Introduced to offer consolation and raise funds for a bereaved family, disco matangas have turned to the ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ of Kilifi. The night vigil, also known as usiniriche from the popular Mijikenda gospel song Usiniriche by Dickson Nyamawi, has greatly been abused.
Education stakeholders and area leaders say disco matangas have done more harm than good. Today teenagers dominate these night vigils. In yesteryears, teenagers and children were not allowed in burial ceremonies and night vigils.
County commissioner Magu Mutindika said disco matangas are the major cause of early pregnancies and dismal education performance. During the night vigils, drugs and alcohol are abused, especially by teenagers.
Palm wine is also in plenty.
Young girls are scantly dressed to “spice up” the night vigils. Both old and young men turn up in large numbers, targeting the young girls for sex.
“Boys throng these functions to seduce girls and have sex with them in bushes. In most cases, they do not use protection and this explains the high rate of teenage pregnancies. This is a threat to this generation,” Ganze Sauti ya Wanawake chairlady Judith Uchi said.
Uchi said they have tried to speak to the young girls on the dangers associated with casual sex.
Data from the county Health department show that by October last year, 13,000 teenagers were pregnant.
Kilifi county hospital medical superintendent Eddie Nzomo said, “We should prepare to receive shocking statistics come February and March. Most of these pregnancies are recorded after school holidays. We seriously need to do something.”
In the Mijikenda setting, sexual activities during funerals are prohibited, but due to the large number of people who attend and lack of monitoring structures, the practice is rampant.
After the funerals, families perform rituals to stop any calamities that may befall the family as a result of the sexual activities that happen during mourning.