• Friday private ceremony attended by family and close friends.
• Son says he was given a befitting send-off.
Mourners who turned up to pay their last respects to Nakuru businessman George Kori Njuguna, 85, were disappointed to find he had been buried four days earlier.
Mourners braved the chilly morning weather and started streaming into the former politician's Elburgon home in Nakuru county at 8am.
Several colourful tents had been erected and seats arranged. Some mourners sat on the grass as there were not enough seats for the large crowd.
However, it turned out that there was no body to bury, the ceremony was only meant to celebrate Kori's life.
The wealthy businessman had been buried on Friday morning in a private ceremony attended by his family and close friends.
“The body was brought from the mortuary on Thursday evening and buried early Friday morning. It was purely a private burial," his ninth-born son, John Njoroge, said.
"Family members and close friends paid their last respects during the four-hour exercise. We conducted a full programme and service to give a befitting send-off to our father."
A relative said some members of Kori's family were expected to seek a court order on Friday to stop the burial.
Kori died on May 4 at Nairobi Hospital. He had been suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes and had been undergoing dialysis at the Aga Khan and Nairobi hospitals.
He was admitted at the Nairobi Hospital ICU on May 3 and died a day later.
Molo resident Mary Wanjiku said, “We had news that the late Kori will be buried today [Tuesday]. I travelled with my family from Molo to give [him a] befitting send-off only to realise he had been buried on Friday morning.”
Resident Mary Muthoni said, "Everything was over by 10am, when we were arriving. We also got shocked by the turn of events."
Some mourners were unhappy with the arrangement. “It is unfortunate that we did not see him as he was being laid to rest. He was a humble and good man who helped the needy but we did not have a choice as the family had decided what was good for Mzee,” Njoro resident Peter Kerema said.
Others speculated that it could have been Mzee Kori’s wish to be buried privately.
“The family normally has a say on where and when to bury their relative. We can only support them with their wishes. We have come to celebrate his life and appreciate the memories he has left behind," Elburgon resident Joseph Kamau said.
Former Transition Authority chairman and senior Kikuyu elder Kinuthia Mwangi was among those who felt disappointed.
“I’m very disappointed not to have buried my friend Kori, whom I knew over 60 years ago. I worked with him when he was the chairman of the county council while I was the clerk,” he said.
Mwangi, who grew up with Kori in Elburgon, said the deceased was a legend.
“Kori was an icon. He was a famous businessman and I, like many of his friends and leaders, could have wanted to bid him farewell and pay a befitting send-off. I was prepared to attend the burial only to be told that he was buried on Friday,” he said.
Kori was born on November 25, 1933, at Mariashoni Forest in Elburgon. He was a prominent figure in Nakuru, especially in Molo and Elburgon towns, where he served as a councillor in the 1970 and early '80s.
Kori served as chairman of the defunct Nakuru County Council for two terms. He built schools, churches and hospitals in Elburgon, Molo and Nakuru.
Kori, a shrewd businessman, was the proprietor of Elburgon Bus Service, which operated in Nakuru, Molo and later Nairobi and Kisumu.
He invested in the hotel business, setting up Mt Sinai, Mukoh Hotel and Farmers Inn in Njoro.
Kori was a large-scale farmer who raised livestock and grew crops at his 1,000-acre Mutamaiyo Farm.
Molo MP Kuria Kimani, who attended Tuesday's celebration service, eulogised Kori as "a great son of Molo".
“He was a good man. He was also like my father. He donated land for the construction of a chief’s office and police camp at Mutamaiyo. We are here to celebrate his life,” he said.
His children also paid him tribute: “You were a great and loving father to your children who taught us humble ways to seek God. You were jovial and happy man who taught us to extend a hand of generosity to the community. You were always ready to guide us.”
Kori loved chicken and steamy ugali. Little of his social life is known to the public as he mostly led a private and quiet life.
Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya