Drama as widows trade barbs and fight over right to bury dead husband in Eldoret

There was drama after a sombre funeral planning meeting at a home in Kipsitet Area, Kericho County turned chaotic. This was after two widows began bandying nasty words with each other, as they claimed rights to bury the body. Emotions ran high as the women traded harsh words, leaving close family elders and mourners in utter shock.

The bone of contention was the burial home for one John Tangus, 74, who died after battling an unidentified illness. His two widows who reportedly haven’t been the best of friends, clashed and engaged one another in a verbal combat, with each demanding the right to have the patriarch’s remains interred at their home.

The younger wife, Lena Serem, 55, had fired the first salvo, after she objected the elders’ directive. According to the women

— and in conformance to the local cultural demands

— the man was supposed to be laid to rest at the home of the first wife, who unfortunately was not in the best of terms with him by the time he died.

Violation of culture

Lena, who couldn’t hear any of it, dismissed the idea, maintaining that the late had all along expressed his desire to be buried at her home when the time to meet his maker came knocking.

On her part, the first wife Susan Tangus, 60, couldn’t sit and just watch as a glaring cultural violation went on. Seething with rage, she dismissed her co-wife’s allegations, terming them cheap fabrications.

“Do not pretend as if you do not understand what our culture dictates concerning a matter of this nature. We will not allow you to bend the rules for your selfish interest,” she yelled in a local dialect.

The family elders were, however, left in dilemma and couldn’t figure how well to make a binding ruling. Considering the deceased had spent most of his last days at the younger wife’s home, they could not dispense off with the possibility that the man could have made a wish to be buried there.

But on the other hand, they were also cognizant of the fact that the elder wife deserved the right to have the man buried in her home as per their culture. Matters were further complicated when the sons of the younger wife sensed the elders appeared to be in favour of the elder wife.

In a show of solidarity with their mother, that almost saw kicks and blows fly around, they threatened to turn the funeral into a circus by hijacking the body on the day of the burial and ensure it was taken to their home. While justifying their claims, they held that it was unfair to disrespect the wishes of a dead man. What’s more, they said that the old man preferred their home and their mother had nursed him all along till he breathed his last.

Shocked members, presiding elders and others mourners couldn’t help, but watch in awe as the drama unfolded. The difficulty of deciding between a cultural obligation and a personal wish was evident in the meeting.

“I’m afraid the burial might expose the family’s underbelly. Such quarrels after the death of a family head can bring a curse. We are concerned how this family will be after the burial, if this sharp division we are witnessing is anything to go by,” intimated Silas Mibei, an elder, demanding the matter be solved amicably.

The family is still at a crossroads and this has subsequently derailed funeral-related plans for the burial that was set to be last Saturday.