FARE WELL

First Kenyan casualty of Covid-19 laid to rest in Kitale

The brief burial ever witnessed among the Bukusu people took exactly 35 minutes.

In Summary

• The first Coronavirus victim in Kenya late Engineer Maurice Namiinda was finally laid to rest at his Naisambu home on the outskirts of Kitale town.

• The family demanded a physical burial so that when the pandemic is over, they will get an opportunity to perform their customs. 

Family members gather around the grave of the late Engineer Maurice Namiinda
Family members gather around the grave of the late Engineer Maurice Namiinda
Image: COURTESY

The first Kenyan to die of Coronavirus, the late Engineer Maurice Namiinda was finally laid to rest at his Naisambu home on the outskirts of Kitale town.

The brief burial ever witnessed among the Bukusu people took exactly 35 minutes.

Completely contrary to the Bukusu traditions, the 66-year-old businessman was buried at 11:35 am.

His body was transported from Nairobi to Kitale on Monday.

The ceremony was witnessed by a handful of family members, a dozen policemen and government officials.

Namiinda was the first patient to succumb to the disease since its outbreak on March 13.



Health CS Mutahi Kagwe confirmed the death of  Namiinda on March 26 at the Aga Khan hospital where he had been admitted at the ICU.

In a statement, Kagwe said, "We have received the sad news of the death of a patient who had tested positive for coronavirus."

He had arrived in Kenya on March 13 from South Africa via Swaziland and been suffering from diabetes.

The widow Mrs Mary Namiinda(seated) and her children at the graveside.
The widow Mrs Mary Namiinda(seated) and her children at the graveside.
Image: COURTESY

Since his death, there has been a push and pull with regards to how the bodies of those who succumb to the disease should be disposed of.

 
 
 

The family had accused the government of planning to cremate the body against their will.

“Maurice Namiinda was an elder who believed in traditions, as a family we are saying we have no room for cremation, his body must be physically laid to rest at his Trans Nzioa farm,” a family member said.



“We acknowledge that coronavirus is here, and Namiinda’s death is the first in the country but that should not be used to stigmatise us, we are already bereaved and in mourning." 

He said they want physical burial so that when the pandemic is over, they will get an opportunity to perform their customs. 

But Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna while dismissing the claims said the government was mindful of the family and would not make any decision without involving them.

"The government cannot do such a thing, we are mindful of people’s beliefs and customs," Oguna said. 

“We are currently having consultative meetings bearing in mind this is the first death we have experienced and we need to agree on the best way possible. Once everything has been laid out, the next of kin will have to be informed”.