Birth and Death…(When the Iteso..)

Part 3 on the series about the Iteso culture. All the information here is either got from Google or personal inquiries with people well vast with the Iteso culture. The information is ofcourse disputable. Feel free to make additions or subtractions after you read. Enjoy your read!

The natural beauty of Teso

First of all, for this post, i was priviledged to get information from my lovely grandmother.. *drumrolls*.. It felt nice getting help from her. It was the longest conversation we had ever had and it felt so lovely to know that i could actually connect with her beyond asking about the Iteso.  So, Whatever happens when the Iteso give birth is called einono. Before the girl gives birth, she is taken to live with her mother or grandmother and she gives birth from there and lives there until the child is of age. This is to prevent the husband from asking the girl for sex when in that condition. When an Atesot gives birth, she is kept in the house for three days. No one is supposed to see her during that time apart from her caretakers. During this time, she feeds mainly on millet porridge(akuma na alosi). The mother and child are then brought out of the house after three days for the naming ceremony. The naming ceremony is usually a day of celebration and rejoicing. Specific types of food are eaten on that day. These foods are…. Atapa,(millet bread), Emutilia(sour milk), Emagira(sort of ground peas) and Ajono( local brew) which should be specifically drank from a calabash(adere).

An Etesot playing the akogo.(musical Instrument of the Iteso).

After the drinking, eating and celebrations, the child is initiated into the culture or the clan by dropping Ajono into the mouth of the baby. The actual naming of the child then begins. Children are named differently according to various clans. In one of the clans, a list of names that would be desired for the child are selected. The child is then brought and then the selected names are called out loudly. The name the child takes is the one that, which, upon mentioning, the child cried. If the child doesnt cry, they keep mentioning names until the child cries.
For another clan, the mother of the child is made to sit at the entrance of the house naked from the waist up. The mother of the girl who has given birth then puts millet on the girl’s forehead, throat and on her nipples. If the child is supposed to be named Atim, the grandmother calls the child by that name, and tells the child to suckle the mother’s breast. If the child doesnt suckle, then it means that he or she has rejected the name. So another name is selected and the process is repeated until the child accepts to suckle the breast then it will be assumed that the child has accepted that particular name. Where there was an issue of contention about which name to give the child, two hens would be brought and given two different names, for example one would be named Akello and the other Atim.they would then be thrown ontop of a roof of a house. The child would be given the name of the first hen that falls from the roof.
After the naming of the child, the mother is then free to move around. However, she is not required to eat local salt(abalang) until the umblical cord of the child has dropped. After it has fallen, she is free to eat anything she desires to eat.

When death occurs among the Iteso, a drum is beaten to a particular rythm to announce the death of the person. A messenger is sent to inform friends and relatives who live far away about the death. The body is then kept in the hut and cleaned up. The family members of the deceased person are taken to the house of the grandmother and then she mixes a few concoctions and smears on the forehead of the family members as she talks against the spirit of the deceased to prevent it from attacking the family members. However it is believed that the person closest to the deceased falls very ill. It is believed that the spirit of the deceased is still with that person. The mourning starts as soon as the body is transffered from the hut in which it was being cleaned from to the hut in which it will be kept for the night. Mourners are allowed to go into the hurt and pay their respects to the deceased. After that, people gather in various groups(usually age groups) as the mourning continues. A few people sit by the hut in which the body is kept to guard it. The burial ceremony begins very early in the morning. The body is taken to a central place in the compound, for everyone(including those who just arrive that day) to pay their last respects. A funeral service would be held there at home, and then the body would be taken to the family’s burial site to be buried.After the burial, if the deceased was a man, the clan members wait for three days and then they hold a meeting in which they will give the widow of the deceased to another man, most likely a relative or close friend of the deceased to be a caretaker of the widow and her family. Usually, the man ends up inheriting the widow. So thats about birth and death. Watch out for the next post.
Have a goodnight!

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  1. Wow! I enjoyed learning about the culture.

    Among many Zimbabwean tribes the bride was sent to her mother’s (olden days) not to prevent the husband from demanding sex but so that the expectant mum learns to care for the newborn baby from her mother. Perhaps that was the story told to the husband 😊

    My pen is capped.


    Liked by 1 person

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