My Diary

Death Myths Are Alive And Well.

Not Friday, I know! My sidekick Stacey usually posts those freaky stories on Fridays..Have you seen them? Geez! Always gives me goosebumps! Check them out here.. HERE

Back to today’s post.

We’ve heard them. From our parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues, the news, practically everywhere we turn there’s a story of how the deceased “refused” to be buried at a particular place, or to be taken to the ancestral home, or even to enter the car that was to transport the body. Maybe to you it wasn’t just a story you heard. You actually witnessed something spooky happen. We as Africans are superstitious when it comes to death. We place deeper symbolic meanings if something out of the norm happens during or after the burial ceremony.

I recently laid to rest my colleague and friend Natani, you can read more about him and what happened HERE

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We smile because #WeCelebrateNatani

And as we travelled to his Kirinyaga home town to pay our final respects as Homeboyz Radio crew, I got into a conversation about these deeply rooted African myths surrounding death in different communities. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, a time of social media, The Kardashians and mannequin challenges- that these myths would have been pushed to the side by people my age; but no. These myths are alive and well.

I heard stories of how the body fell off the casket during the procession to the dug out grave and landed at the feet of another man and the villagers claimed that since that man had bad blood with the deceased, then it must be a sign that the deceased did not want him at his funeral, or he probably had something to do with his death, and was quickly whisked away. I was also told of a time a deceased lady “refused” to ride at the bottom part of the bus where bags are carried and instead wanted to ride at the back seat inside the bus where the mourners sang for her and totally understood and respected her final wishes. How about this other incidence we heard in the news about a man who refused to be buried in his ancestral home and the car totally refused to start when the casket was laid on top, but would work just fine after he was removed from it? Spooky, I know! Then I was told about another time a deceased gentleman who lived in town and loved the city life totally refused to be buried in ushago and his relatives had to make last minute arrangements for him to be buried in one of the town cemeteries. The hearse would reverse but not move forward. There was no denying it. He wanted to live and die in L.A.

Yaani Langata.

The day we went to lay our dear Natani to rest, a couple of things didn’t quite go according to plan. There was the rain, the hearse got stuck in the mud and had to be dragged along…mind you this is after the stories we were discussing in the bus! So I whispered to one of my colleagues “Maybe Natani doesn’t want to go?”


Then we lowered him to the ground, did a mannequin challenge where he slept (yes, because we love Natani and chose to remember him with all the crazy things we did together…)

Just days before his passing, we at HBR had done this mannequin challenge with Natani…

Check it out

It was a beautiful send off. I tell ya, when my day comes, I want to be celebrated like that too. We said our goodbyes and left. The journey back was full of drama too.

Our bus got stuck at a market (sisi kama wamama tulitaka kununua tomato na mboga that was selling for dirt cheap compared to Nai!) and had to call onto the help of people there to literally carry the bus out of the slippery path, back onto the road. Weeh! Masaibu. I remember asking my colleagues, “Kwani Natani wetu hataki tumuache?” Natani didn’t want us to leave him? This myth thing had my imagination on over drive. The thought made me sad again. But I remembered that we were just laying his body to rest. His spirit we all carried with us. Each one of us having a little piece of him in our hearts.


I decided to document Natani’s last journey here for record keeping purposes. Not just for me but anyone who loved him who would like to check out the pictures and videos from that day. A bit taboo, I know, but then again in Africa almost everything is taboo…

What eerie myth do you have from your community surrounding death? Don’t be scared to share…

Love. Live. Learn.

Mwalimu Rachel.


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