Fikrini Kalume dug a four-foot-deep grave for his uncle, the sound of his shovel hitting the rocky earth.
Dama Safari sat in her dark, mud hut. Nine months pregnant, the mother of nine children, she was mourning her husband, who died in Thursday's suicide bombing at the Paradise Hotel in nearby Mombasa. At times, she wept so loudly that she was afraid she would hurt the child growing inside her womb. Sometimes her friends held her head to ease her pain.
In the middle of the African forest, funerals were held today for five of the 10 Kenyans who died when three suicide bombers drove a green Mitsubishi Pajero packed with explosives into the lobby of the Israeli-owned hotel. The wails of sobbing women pierced the sweet-sounding funeral songs.
In contrast to the funerals that have followed so many terrorist attacks around the globe in recent months, the victims being mourned here were not Israelis or Americans or Afghans, but rural African villagers. Many were members of the Giriama Dance troupe who performed for arriving Israeli tourists at the hotel every Thursday, using drums they made by hand in their village, about four miles from the Paradise Hotel.
They walked more than an hour to work to earn a meager fee of about $25, which was split among the dancers. But they liked their job so much, survivors said, that they showed up even when the hotel owed them back wages, as it had for the past two months. It was the only work they had. And they enjoyed dancing for the relaxed-looking Israeli tourists.
"We liked to share our traditions since we live in a traditional way," said Salim Yaa, whose daughter, Riziki, died in the blast.
The U.S.-led war against terrorism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, even the posh resorts of Mombasa seem a world away from this village, but Thursday's bombing has shaken Msumarini just as surely as if the explosives had detonated right here. There are orphans in the village now, children who will never know their parents; Riziki left a 3-year-old daughter. And poor families that depended on the dancers' income will be even poorer.
Today, hundreds of relatives gathered from as far away as Nairobi, 300 miles to the northwest, to see if they could help. Barefoot villagers danced and sang mourning songs, beating drums and praying that the dead would rest in peace.
Josephine Walinki, wearing a blue dress with polka dots, came from Mombasa. She said the deaths would change the lives of hundreds of people in the area.
"I don't know why this happened to us or what we will do," said Walinki, her voice shaking. "There are dozens of children who don't have parents now. We have no one to support them."
With that, she watched as the gravediggers continued their work. This is not a place where gravediggers are hired, where there are gated cemeteries. People dig the graves for their own relatives and bury them next to the huts where they live.