The father of one of the students who drowned at River Yala over the weekend is convinced that a traditional Luo ritual played a part in the recovery of his son’s body.
The mourning father, who sought anonymity, performed the ritual on Tuesday – sitting on coiled cloth lubricated with a potion and calling out to his son. About 30 minutes later the body of Derrick Ouka floated to the surface.
“Today we have realised that rituals can sometimes work. As a saved man and a staunch Christian, I was shocked to see the body of my son floating 100 meters away after 30 minutes,” the man told reporters who gathered at the River Yala.
Derrick Ouka and his female companion Shallete Atieno drowned on Saturday evening when they were posing on a stone and taking selfies.
Shallete reportedly slipped and fell into the river with Derrick diving in to try and save her.
A search for their bodies entered its fifth day on Wednesday.
The ‘successful’ ritual by Derrick’s father prompted the father of Shallette to try the same but his attempt was in vain.
The families of the two students were subjected to the traditional rituals administered by witch-doctors.
On Tuesday evening, a large crowd, which had gathered after the body of Derrick Ouka was recovered, was told to move away from the river bank by a witch-doctor so that Atieno’s body could also be found.
The witch-doctor said that Atieno was shy to come afloat because she was naked and did not want people to see her.
The witch doctor then promised that the body would be recovered the following morning (Wednesday).
True to his words the body was found on Wednesday morning with the help of local divers who had been hired by the Siaya county government.
According to local traditions, all four students who witnessed the two drown were also required to stay at the river bank until all the bodies were recovered so that the bodies “do not go far from the scene”.
They were also not allowed to bathe or change clothes as doing so would “hinder the deceased from recognizing them”.
The bodies were moved to Bondo sub county mortuary for postmortem.
The deceased were university students – Derrick was a third-year student at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology while was a student at Bondo Technical Training Institute.