In Africa, a majority of communities value the final rites of their beloved, and in most instances, funeral and burial ceremonies are thronged by huge multitudes of people who come to pay their last respects.
However, there have been a number of burials that have been considered strange by the general public. In Kenya, we have witnessed a number of burial ceremonies that have been described as unusual based on the manner in which they were conducted.
WoK in this article takes a look at some of the Kenyan billionaires that were accorded final send-off rites that many considered strange.
The late veteran entrepreneur and founder of Mastermind Tobacco Kenya (MTK) is one of Kenya’s wealthiest individuals that was accorded a highly private send-off. Known for being a recluse, the billionaire maintained his elusiveness even in death where only a handful of people were allowed to attend his burial.
The Tobacco mogul passed away on Thursday morning 6th June 2019.
Unlike other billionaires who have thousands of mourners turn up for their funeral, Mr. Murungi’s only wanted those very close to him to be present during his burial. He rarely interacted with people from his Magutuni village and preferred to keep it that way in death. His body was ferried in a chopper and then in a Mercedes Benz afterwards.
Only eight family members were allowed to witness his burial which took place within an hour. The burial site was heavily armed with police officers whose duty was to prevent the villagers from getting a sneak peek of the burial proceedings.
Those digging the grave were not allowed to witness the burial. They were asked to wait outside the compound until it was time to fill the grave. No pictures were taken of the burial and journalists were also not allowed access.
The public was allowed to attend a requiem mass at All Saints Cathedral two days after the private burial. At the altar, stood a portrait of Murungi on a table where the casket would ordinarily be. The occasion was graced by a number of influential politicians and businessmen.
Joyce Ithiru Murungi
Joyce was the wife of the late Murungi. Just like her husband, her burial was reportedly attended by 40 people. The villagers were also not allowed to attend the burial.
Other reports claim Murungi didn’t attend his wife’s burial but escorted the body from Nairobi to Magutuni.
Very few villagers ever saw the tycoon or his four children: Audrey Wanja, Angela Muthoni, Erick Mugambi and Allan Murungi.
John a businessman, was the son of Royal Media Services owner, S.K Macharia. He died in a tragic road accident after he lost control of his Porsche 911 Turbo S 2016 and rammed into a Prado along the Southern bypass in Nairobi on April 26, 2018.
Macharia was cremated a week before his burial on 6th May 2018. His burial was attended by top Kenyan personalities including National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga.
Sir Charles Mugane Njonjo died on January 2, 2022, aged 101.
While the rest of the country expected a state funeral for the former attorney general, Njonjo was cremated three hours after his death, which was inline with his wishes.
Carey Ngini, a son in law to Njonjo said, “Charles Njonjo was very clear in his instructions that he be cremated immediately after his death; he didn’t want funeral-related fanfare. He wanted to be cremated almost immediately after death. So we have fulfilled his wish.”
Former Safaricom PLC chief executive officer, Bob Collymore, died aged 61 on July 1, 2019. He succumbed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer.
A day after his death, July 2, 2019, Collymore was cremated at the Kariokor Hindu Crematorium, as per his wishes.
Only close family members and close friends were allowed to attend the cremation.
Jeremiah Gitau Kiereini
The late tycoon and former head of public service passed on in May 2019 at the age of 90.
The billionaire businessman was cremated in a highly private function attended by close family members only.
The businessman left the civil service in 1984 after retiring as the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet in late President Daniel Moi’s Government.
He, thereafter, ventured into the private sector, where he made a name heading several corporate organisations.