Mbabane: Eswatini’s Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku has urged EmaSwati to immediately stop engaging in the custom of ‘kufukama’ as means to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Addressing the nation on Friday giving an update on the new COVID-19 restrictions Masuku said the custom of kufukama is strongly discouraged as research from epidemiologists provides that it is among the super spreaders of the virus.
In the Eswatini customs context, ‘kufukama’ is regarded as an important support system for the bereaved, where after there has been a death in a family, a group of key family members, usually women, gather -usually in a room and spend most of time there together, whilst burial preparations are underway. In some instances they also spend even ten (10) more days in the house with a candle lit throughout after the funeral.
Masuku said although they recognized that this was an important support system for the bereaved, but government nonetheless pleads with EmaSwati to stop ‘kufukama’ with immediate effect to avoid causing more deaths. “We have seen some families lose more than one member in succession due to the observance of kufukama.” He said, justifying government’s stance on the custom.
“I implore EmaSwati not to allow other voices, either from social media or other platforms, to drown the advice and messages of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization”.
“At a time when strict adherence to health protocols and regulations is critical, may I also implore EmaSwati to completely avoid serving food at funerals”.
Masuku noted that the strength, tenacity and unpredictability of the virus means that we have to employ war-like strategies to emerge victorious. “The over-arching objective is to save the lives and livelihoods of EmaSwati under the counsel and luminary leadership of Their Majesties who continue to shine a guiding light on our efforts”.
“We are in this fight for the long haul, but the real duration of this war will be determined by the action of each individual. Let us strictly stay at home and only travel when necessary”, he said.