When Fred Makokha, 23, and Rebecca Sayi, 21, got married in Mugai village, Malava Sub-County in Kakamega after dating for six months without knowing they were closely related, elders went bonkers.
Makokha Injendi, the man’s father, and Dishon Sayi, the girl’s father, share a grandfather who had three wives and whose progeny settled in two villages that are barely 2km apart. Injendi became violent, forcing journalists to scatter when we sought his comment.
But in an interview with The Nairobian, Sayi says he got word that his daughter and Mokokha, a barber, were not only lovers despite being related by blood, but had been cautioned after getting caught pants down in the man’s hut.
“The following day, I went to see my ‘brother’ to inquire whether what I had heard was true, but he denied knowledge of the matter. Upon returning home, I tried talking to my daughter and when she was not forthcoming, I beat her up thoroughly,” said Sayi.
He adds: “My daughter then locked herself in the house and tried to poison herself. But when I thwarted her plans, she ran away, only for the clan chairman to call me five days later to reveal that the two had eloped and were living together in a rented house.”
Sayi said they surrounded the house with the help of clan elders and got hold of the two and led them to a crossroads (lisanganjila) with a fig tree (mukhuyu) to be cleansed. Mzee Shaku Indimuli, the Bamusonga clan chairman, ordered Makokha’s father to bring a bull, a ram and a tortoise.
Elders then took the two to a nearby bush, forced them to strip naked and ordered them to have s3x before walking naked to the place where the animals were to be sacrificed for the cleansing ceremony. The ram had already been slaughtered and the blood sprinkled on the burnt sacrifice. The lovebirds were then ordered to step in intestinal refuse (obuse) before they were smeared with blood and wrapped in fresh sheepskin.
Clan elders then whipped them thoroughly and ordered them to each cut their skins with a razor blade and shed their blood as a sign of ending the relationship. They were then ordered to run naked in different directions into a thicket.
Mzee Shaku Indimuli, told The Nairobian that the lovebirds were then ordered to lie down and the tortoise placed on their backs and chests, walking and biting them as a warning that they should discontinue there love affair and seek lovers from another community.
“You have to stop the illicit love affair (oluswa) and look for another woman or man to marry to save your generation, failure to which all the children you will sire together will die after birth,” warned Shaku.
He said the two were whipped and forced to walk naked to shame them and warn other clan members that there are harsh penalties for having sex with close relatives. He warned that should the couple defy the order and continue with the affair after the cleansing ceremony, they will die.
“If you don’t whip them, the love affair won’t fade. Instead, it will blossom since they have been friends for long. Equally, those who eat of the meat roasted as a burnt sacrifice must be faithful to their wives. If they sleep with another man’s wife, they will get stuck,” he warned.
Shaku added that women are prohibited from attending the cleansing ceremony because they might become barren.