Magoha’s burial: The Calabar-Luo Contrast

Dr. Barbara Magoha, former Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha’s widow, explained why she did not wail while taking her late husband’s body to his home in Gem, Siaya County.

According to Mrs. Magoha, while recognising the Luo traditions, says she chose to mourn her husband the Nigerian way.

“People were upset, some astonished that I did not wail and cry to enter the home. Sorry, to let you down. My new position in the family does not give me such privilege to do public display of emotions. I am a Nigerian. I was born a Nigerian. I’ll be buried a Kenyan and in between I am a Malian. I mourned my husband the Nigerian way…I mourned him in my own way, she said.

According to Nigerian customs, past a certain age, life is celebrated during ones burial as opposed to crying.

“My husband was more than seventy years old, the number of years that the good Lord has allocated to us. So from there, the further away you are from seventy, the more the rejoicing. It’s no tears. Please celebrate with my husband,” she elaborated.

She apologised to Luo mourners who were locked out of the compound as the late Professor Magoha’s body arrived in his home.

“I want to apologise to the wananchi about what happened yesterday when there was a little fracas when I went into the home. Some people don’t know that it is a Luo custom that when the widow opens the gate, the mourners are allowed to enter and mourn. So the gates were closed and I could understand the pain of the mourners and I am extremely sorry for that,” she said.

Professor Magoha died on 24th of January, 2023 following cardiac arrest.

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