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Ancient Ku Traditions – Mourning, Forgiveness and Vengeance

Sub-Saharan Africa. Tobosa People. Ku Language. A tradition. A lesson for the world.

The essence of that tradition is as follows:

When someone kills a loved one – in the course of justice, the killer is handed over to the grievers.

The grievers bind the killers hands and feet and take him out in a boat and release him into the water. To drown. To die. An eye for an eye.

But that does not bring the dead back. And does not save the grievers their grief.

As the grievers watch the bound killer’s suffering as he drowns, they have two choices:  they can either save the drowning man or they can stand back and do nothing.

Traditional wisdom says that they feel avenged if the killer drowns but then they continue to mourn for their loved one for the rest of their lives. There is justice but they remain trapped in the mourning for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, if they save the killer from drowning, they have chosen to accept that life is unfair and that the dead are dead and gone forever and that nothing can bring them back. And by saving the killer’s life, they make the choice to put the tragedy behind them and take the decision that is based in the present moment and not the past. They make the choice to move on.

The tradition does not prescribe which path one must take. It just indicates the consequences of each and allows the individual to choose his own path, depending on his own readiness.

This tradition is in the context of killings and killers – but the principles apply to minor wrongs as well. We could either forgive and be free or we could remain vengeful and mourn for the rest of our lives…

Not an easy choice!


jan 2011

This has been picked up from the movie “the interpreter’ describing a fictional language and a fictional country and a fictional people. But my guess is that the traditions spoken about in the film must be rooted in some real group not mentioned in the movie – because real life is bigger than anyone’s imagination

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This entry was posted on January 17, 2011 by in Thought Kaleidoscope and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .


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