Burundi Death Practices

by L-Johnson

At the end of a one-week mourning period, friends and family would gather to have a light celebration for the deceased.

Burundi is one of the fifteen landlocked countries in Africa with a population of about 8 million people, and known as one of the poorest countries in the world. When a Burundian dies, the burial is performed – traditionally, this burial would be located close to the family home, but there are more instances of burial in graveyards than before. Immediately after the burial, the mourners perform a cleansing ritual called gukaraba that involves ceremoniously washing their hands. At the end of a one-week mourning period, friends and family gather to comfort one another and tell stories on the life of the deceased. Around four to six months after the death, a kuganduka ceremony is held to finalize inheritance issue and settles the debts of the deceased.

Diviners, or fortune-tellers, are believed to have a special, psychic connections to the spirits in the after world. The Burundi people use the services of the diviners to appease the spirits of their ancestors, who are considered an essential part of the culture.

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