Proverb of the week: A funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation.

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Akavia kakhuanyisivyanga mumasika. (Nyala, Kenya)
Mazishi hutoa nafasi ya Upatanisho. (Kiswahili)
Le deuil est une occasion de réconciliation. (French)
A funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation. (English)

The proverb, which is used amongst the Abanyala group in Kenya, teaches the importance of peace and reconciliation amongst people, which leads to social progress. 

Abanyala is one of the dialects of the Luhya (also called Luyia or Abaluyia) ethnic group, which made up about 16% of Kenya’s total population of 38.5 million. The Abanyala people are the polygamous Bantu ethnic group, predominantly found in East Africa. Culturally, the father is regarded, amongst the Abanyala, as the head of the family. In case of conflicts amongst the wives, children or other family members, it is expected that the father tries to solve the problem amicably and fairly. However, when the conflict cannot be solved by the head of the family, the case is tabled amongst the council of elders, headed by the chief. Hence, a family problem is therefore seen as a problem of the whole community.

Likewise, death is regarded amongst the Abanyala as a community tragedy, rather than a family affair. It is, therefore, not uncommon for the whole community to participate in mourning for the death of a family member. Equally, the community ensures that the affected family, which has lost a member is supported during and after the burial and very important, that the dead person receives a befitting and deserved a burial. To achieve these cultural expectations, all are expected to bury their differences and work towards a common goal. One cannot show anger, even to the death, some would say. Hence, you could say that a funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation. 

How does this proverb help explain the African present situation and offer some pieces of advice to individual groups, as they tackle problems facing them? Human communities face many challenges; some of these problems are human-made. Furthermore, we live in societies where we have our differences. Some of these problems, challenges, and differences can affect the whole community negatively if we allow them to continue. With this in mind, we must come out in solidarity in order to find a lasting solution to the problems facing us. United we stand and achieve much.

In Africa, as well as in many other parts of the world, leaders have let their people down. From empty promises to corruption, inefficiency, and selfishness. The result: social inequality, hardship and blink future. These problems can hardly be solved individually. To help minimize the problems and the impacts, the whole people must forget their differences (religious, cultural, personal, linguistic, etc) and come out in solidarity and face the challenges.

Lack of education, water supply, electricity, good health care, security, are, figuratively speaking, death facing each family in Africa and other places. Are these the problems you can solve yourself? Hardly not. You need to join hands with other members of society and address these social challenges. This could be solved by saying no to bad leadership, rejecting vote buying, refusing to mortgage the future of your unborn children by not accepting gifts from corrupt leaders to persuade you to vote them in again after performing miserably. You can only achieve this noble task by putting aside your various individual differences and disagreement and work together in solidarity. On the other hand, confronting the leaders as a group or engaging them, may offer an opportunity for the leaders to understand their shortcomings, problems facing their socities, ask for forgiveness and work towards making amends.

At the end of the day, putting our differences aside and tackling our problems together in solidarity can only lead to harmony, peace, and progress in society. Thus, a funeral offers the opportunity for reconciliation, indeed.