There was drama at the Kangundo Level 4 Hospital morgue in Machakos Count, Kenya on Tuesday, April 28, after the second wife of a deceased resident brought clothes smeared with ashes in preparation for her husband’s burial.
The body of Gideon Kimeu was being prepared for collection at the mortuary, when his second wife, Grace Kamene, brought a suit, and asked the morgue attendants to ensure her husband donned the clothes for his final send-off.
When the attendants were dressing the man in the suit, they discovered that the clothes had ashes, and immediately informed Kimeu’s first wife, Alice Kalondu, who was registered as the person to collect the body.
The second wife, who was at the morgue at the time, and the deceased’s younger brother took off, when the first wife and her children arrived at the mortuary.
Joseph Muema, one of the morgue attendants, told K24 Digital that they were shocked when Kamene asked them to put a bag of ashes and other strange objects in the deceased’s coffin.
Daniel Masila, the spokesperson of the first-family, told K24 Digital that the second wife’s actions were “a form of witchcraft”.
“According to our (Kamba) beliefs, when a person dies, and his body or clothes are smeared with ashes, then that means any time a fire will be lit in the deceased’s homestead, then something bad, including strange deaths, would befall his next of kin,” said Masila.
“Our traditions allow only the first wife of a dead polygamous man to bury the deceased,” he added.
Rebecca Ndinda Kimeu, the daughter of Kimeu’s first wife, told K24 Digital that there has been unending hostility between her biological mother and his step-mum.
“My step-mum wanted my dad to be buried in her homestead at Kyanzavi in Matungulu, whereas traditions dictate that he should be buried at my mother’s homestead in Katulye Village in Kangundo,” said Ndinda.
Following the Tuesday drama, Kimeu’s body was taken back to the morgue, and the clothes brought by the second wife, discarded.
The following day (Wednesday, April 29), the first wife, Alice Kalondu, brought new clothes, which were dressed on the deceased.
Kalondu and her children were, thereafter, allowed to collect their loved one’s body, which they buried in Kangundo in a brief function attended by close family members only.