Sunday, 28 December 2014

30.10.14 Interview 5 - Muramura and Cement Graves


Electricity still off so cannot get internet.  Asked Jacob to buy a goat for Tuesday evening for everyone before l go home to UK – 150,000/- including sodas.

David going to invest four more Jon Buck totems so that all the investments can go into the kiln, so we will go out after this to see the Muramura graves and take photographs.

Interview 5  Grave Owner
Name: Enzironi Kambale
Born: Kakuka Village, Bundibuoyo, now lives in Kyemihoko and neighbour to Rungwe Kingdon and the foundry.

Death ritual: He cannot remember the history of the death rituals. He said they sometimes used a wild boar hole a long time ago to bury people in.  The body was wrapped in bark cloth because it can last for a long time, at least 50 years in the ground.  He related that the body would be laid straight and horizontal going back as long as 200-300 years – this was maybe some exaggeration, as this informant was known to have some mental health issues.  About 214 years ago they used the muramura plant and would sometimes put a fig tree on the grave.
They used muramura as it doesn’t grow very tall over a long period of time, although the fig tree is taller and can indicate from a distance that this is a grave.  It can signify that more people are buried there, not just one person but each has a muramura ring surrounding it.
Enzironi said he liked using the muramura rather than cement, but the whole congregation of the Christian church wanted him to erect a cement grave for his daughter who was the second child to die in the family – the first child to die in the family had muramura but the church insisted that he also gave the son a cement grave at the same time he was making the second grave for his daughter.  The first grave to his son, Buluku Edison (died 28.12.07) was a policeman killed on duty and his first born.  The second grave to his daughter, Kabunjho Scovia (died 25.01.14) was killed on the road by a car as she was walking along, who was his fifth child, the third daughter in line.

In 15 years he had not been to the witch doctor, as he says they are great liars.

After the funeral the usual ceremony for him was to invite people back to have something to eat and sing a few Christian songs and then people would go back home – unlike the traditional funeral rituals which were told to me by the elders previously.  They are buried in their clothes and now wrapped in bed sheets.  The first of his graves was just an earth lining, whereas the second one was lined with bricks and then plastered with cement.

He doesn’t believe in bad spirits and believes you go to heaven, but will go to hell if he believed in bad spirits (traditional spirits).  He said he wanted to become a Christian, and that nobody bribed him to be.  He thinks this religion is perhaps the better one (rather than face to face religions eg. traditional). Traditional and Christian religions both tell you untruths but it is simpler to just deal with one.  When told about how some of the churches bribed people with clothes and food to affect conversions, he says, ‘it is better to be with your wife than seek fame and fortune in Kampala and be alone there.  He rather has less money and be happier, as life is not about riches’.  

Sometimes the translation may go arye or sometimes the respondent does not necessarily fully understand the nuances of the questions asked.  This informant was a bit unstable, so it was difficult for David, who knows him, to get him to focus.  The photos of the graves will be useful to see as documents of how the traditions are changing and adapting.  He gave us lots of avocados to take away.

Today David told me he thought he had a ‘Night Dancer’ as he found his dog had been untied and let loose and the cattle shed lock had been taken off and thrown away – sounds like someone wanted to steal his cattle again.  But apparently he found his lock thrown away again before this, so he thinks someone is trying to tease him – hence the ‘Night Dancer’, which is sent by a witch doctor to send someone mad.  Told him he should either inform the police (not such a good idea as they want money, even to be told!) or l said make a witch doctor’ type of stick and plant it outside the cattle shed – l think he was quite interested in this idea, being the cheaper option, although he didn’t want to be known as dealing with witch-craft!!! Catch 22!



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