Why some senior citizens may not be amused by lunar eclipse

The moon illuminated by sunlight reflected off the Earth during a total lunar eclipse in 2014. Traditional beliefs have over the years characterised some communities' explanation of the lunar eclipse spectacle. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Mars will be hovering over the moon, giving it its red complexion.
  • Senior citizens and religious people also have their take on the eclipse.
  • A Kaya elder says the eclipse is a sign of peace and plenty in our community.

Tonight an astronomical double bill will be served up from the skies with the moon falling under the earth’s shadow in what is called a total lunar eclipse.

At the same time, Mars will be hovering over the moon, giving it its red complexion, a phenomenon known as “Red Moon”.

As sky-gazers ponder on the spectacle some senior citizens across Kenya may not be so fascinated. The reason? Traditional beliefs surrounding unusual events.

The following are some of the explanations some communities in Kenya give in regard to this phenomenon.

Voices of the old

Senior citizens and religious people also have their take on the eclipse.

“Eclipse marked the beginning of deaths, disasters and destruction. Taita’s believed gods were telling them something was wrong. Sacrifices were made at shrines to appease the gods.” - Mnjala Mwaluma, Njavungo Council of Elders’ spokesman.


“Eclipse is one of the signs of the end times. The Bible in Revelation has mentioned that during the last days, the moon and the sun will be put to darkness.” – Daniel Karisa Kaingu, Lamu SDA church elder.


“The evil spirit that holds the moon usually causes darkness, diseases and strong winds to blow from the ocean, forcing fishermen to flee from the rough waters. The fishermen usually join the community to dispel the spirits by singing 'kolowa eeh kolowa richa mwezi wale' (Go away you evil spirit that’s holding the moon)” – Nzai Tsuma, Kilifi Kaya Elder.


“The eclipse is a sign of peace and plenty in our community.” - Emanuel Katana, chairman of Giriama Kaya Godhoma for the elderly.


“Once the eclipse was spotted, senior elders accompanied by seers would climb Mt Kenya and Nyambene hills with a ram for a sacrifice. The diviners would interpret the message from the God. The senior elders would relay the information to Njuri Ncheke elders gathered at Nchiru who would seek ways of appeasing God to prevent the calamity.” – Kaburu Ndubai, historian.


“Any darkness witnessed in the lunar eclipse is an impending sign of misfortunes. The young are not allowed to witness such an event lest they lose their prosperity.” - Mayiwa Arap Koech, 84, Nandi elder.


“In the olden days elders used to come together under the leadership of a chief magician to wait for any fate that would befall them. Magicians used the opportunity to scare the villagers to bring goats, sheep, cattle and even human sacrifices for the gods.” - Julius Wabucheri, Luhya elder.


“We believed our ancestors were annoyed with some happenings in the society which needed cleansing before rituals like circumcision could be done.” – Amos Chemabus, member of the Orkoyoit family which advises the Sabaot community on culture.


“Women are prohibited from preparing food when the eclipse is underway because it can poison the food. Women who give birth when there's lunar eclipse give birth to a child with a crippled hip.” - Ms Lorraine Towett, a Kipsigis.


“The Abagusii people referred the eclipse to as Enyakoira and believed it was brought about by sins people had committed hence they had to sacrifice animals for cleansing. People were told to stay indoors lest they become monkeys if they looked at the sky.” – Obino Nyambane, Kisii elder.


“The elders will carefully study the moon during the eclipse to determine whether the phenomenon is a warning of impending misfortunes that could befall our community - Peter Andai, 86, Batsotso elder.


“We are telling villagers to pray and so that nothing unusual happens when the eclipse sets in tonight.”- Charles Amwayi, 79, Idakho elder.


“When the lunar eclipse happens, it is a sign that rains would stop and usher in a dry spell. When the two meet a distance apart, the sun dries the moon making it lose the rain.” – Owino Kutilo, Banyore lead rainmaker.


“The eclipse signified transition from one leadership to another during the old days. This is still relevant today because you cannot put much trust in science.” – Joram Okolla, Luo elder.

Religious too have their take when it comes to explaining the lunar eclipse:

“It has no biblical meaning. It may have meaning for those who worship the sun or the moon.” – Jeremiah Kikuvi Lamu Redeemed Gospel Churches overseer


“The eclipse can be a sign of believers going astray somewhere. Faithful are required to make a special prayer.” - Sheikh Mohamed Abdulkadir, Lamu Muslim cleric.

Reported by Charles Wanyoro, David Muchui, Alex Njeru, Dennis Lubanga, Lucy Mkanyika, Kalume Kazungu, Kazungu Samuel and Charles Lwanga


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