Why Sharon Otieno’s unborn baby boy was given a girl’s name

Sharon Otieno

The unborn baby of Sharon Otieno, the slain university student and lover of Migori Governor Okoth Obado, was not buried anonymously.

The baby was given a name before being laid to rest. Despite being a boy, the infant was named after the mother before being lowered into the grave.

Sharon’s grandfather, Samuel Odege, explained that local culture requires that any human being be given a name before burial.

“He is a baby boy and we have named him baby Sharon. Our reason for doing this is to abide by our culture which requires that any human being who gets out of the mother must have a name (sic),” said Odege.

Naming of the baby is expected to help the family acknowledge God’s creation. Odege’s brother John Olweya says every grave must have the name of the person buried in it.

Olweya explained that the dead can only be honoured and remembered through their names.

Friends and relatives carry the casket bearing the remains of the foetus Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard

“Whenever rituals are performed, the dead can only be remembered through their identities during such ceremonies,” he said.

The body of the infant was dressed in white before the burial at Odege’s home at Magare village, Homa Bay County, where grief-stricken relatives thronged to pay their last respects.

Each of them conformed to the Luo culture that prohibits loud mourning or wailing when a new-born dies.

Unlike the case of adults whose bodies are taken into the house for viewing before burial, baby Sharon was moved directly to the grave dug behind Odege’s house where some mourners were overcome with emotions.

The burial ceremony started with a short 10-minute prayer before Rev Samuel Allan of Homa Bay Anglican Church of Kenya Cathedral conducted the prayer service.

Most villagers expect Sharon Otieno, the mother, to be buried at the home of her husband Bernard Owuor alias Okuta of Kamagambo clan in Migori County.

Sharon Otieno's mother Melida Otieno (center) during the burial Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard

The family ishowever opposed to this since the high school teacher had not formalised their marriage.

“The said man had neither paid bride price nor communicated with the family about the relationship to make their marriage official. We don’t recognise the marriage,” said Olweya.

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