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  • Writer's pictureAkumu Fiona

The Africa We Are Losing

The other day I was speaking to my mum as we watched a movie and she told me that in my tribe, Luo, when a wife was bereaved, her head was shaved clean as the mourning began. Same to her children.

It shocked me until I began to question and make sense of it.

Why would my people want to shave all the hair on my head if my husband died. Why?

Wouldn’t it be obvious that I am bereaved, by looking at my heart-ached eyes? Or my sad demeanor?

Maybe the shaving of my head would be a way of communicating to all about my misfortune?

Maybe the whole community is meant to share in the mourning and the shaving of my head is the best indicator there is to make it known.

When I think of it like that, I start to understand a lot of things.

Old customs were mainly about community engagement and togetherness. Each joy and sorrow was shared in the community.

I think of things today.

Any sort of community engagement seems more like a crime: privacy infringement rather than open assistance.

We are loosing a lot of our culture in Kenya.

It is almost as though every passing year chips away bits of the little that is left.

‘My family is mine, you deal with yours’- That’s the mentality.

I tend to wonder if I would be happier in the old customs where everyone would know and help with my problem(s).

I love the balance and personal peace gotten from solving problems inside the boundaries of my head…..but sometimes, I wish I could shave my hair and let others step into this head of mine.

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