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Kenyan Lawyer Otieno Buried in Ancestral Homeland

May 26, 1987|Associated Press

NYALGUNGA, Kenya — One of Kenya's most prominent lawyers has been buried at his ancestral homeland, more than five months after his death, in a case that sparked a legal battle between his widow and clansmen.

The weekend service was a mixture of Christian rites and traditional beliefs of Silvano Melea Otieno's Luo tribe. Thousands of Luo tribesmen went to the service, but neither Otieno's widow, Virginia Wambui Otieno, nor any of their 15 children attended.

Silvano Melea Otieno died Dec. 20 of a heart attack. He was 55.

His wife, Virginia Wambui, wanted to bury him on their farm. But Otieno's brother, Joash Ougo Otieno, and the clan insisted that he be buried at the Luo homeland in western Kenya. Burial at the tribal homeland, they said, would prevent his surviving relatives from being haunted by ancestral spirits.

Otieno's wife won the initial case, but she lost in subsequent hearings before the High Court and the Court of Appeals.

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