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Why the Bukusu Tribe Killed Men Who Are Aged Above 100 Years

Among the Bukusu, men who are aged above 100 years have to die.

This, according to tradition, is to avoid bad omen from befalling the community.

Speaking to the Nairobian, Isaac Misiko, 70, an elder revealed that a man who lives past 100 years from the time he was circumcised is supposed to be killed.

“Tradition dictates that a man should not live until the next cycle of his age set. Each age set takes a period of 10 years and circumcision is normally done in even years. There are eight age groups in the Bukusu traditions identified through circumcision rites. Each age group starts afresh after all age groups have undergone a full cycle of 10 years,” Misiko said.

Another elder, Martin Wanyonyi, 81, said that the victims would either be stoned to death or be dumped in a forest and abandoned without food.

The decision was arrived at by the elders. When you attained the age of 100 years, you were stoned to death by the elders commonly known as omukulo.

A sheep was slaughtered and its blood sprinkled on the ground to appease the spirits of ancestors,” said Wanyonyi, adding that, “One could also be left in a forest alone without food. In most cases, they starved to death.”

He said omukulo, which was made of 10 elders from different clans, buried the men at ungodly hours to ensure that their spirits didn’t come back to haunt their families.

Wanyonyi said that part of the meat was given to dogs to eat while the rest was roasted and served with traditional food such as ugali wa wimbi.

The elders also ate herbs after performing the ritual.

“The offal (obuse) is then mixed with other herbs and used for cleansing the homestead where the deceased was staying,” he said.

However, according to Onesmus Wanjala, 80, from Tongaren sub-county, the tradition changed and instead of stoning the elderly to death, they are normally taken to hospital where doctors administer a lethal injection that kills them slowly.

Wanjala said they also started circumcising their boys after attaining the age of 14 and 20 years so that even if they lived for long, it was not possible for them to reach the new cycle of the next age group.


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