Dispute arises whether to bury or cremate Okoth’s body

The late Kibra MP Ken Okoth

The decision over whether the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth should be cremated or buried has widened a rift among his family members.

Okoth’s European wife identified only as Monica is pushing for husband body’s cremation saying the MP had verbally expressed his desire to be cremated.

Also supporting the cremation are Okoth’s elder brother only identified as Bob and his younger brother.

But Angeline Ajwang’ Okoth’s mother wants the body of her son to be buried.

She is said to be under pressure from the daughter-in-law to accept that his son be cremated but has said that would only take place over her dead body. She wants her son be buried in her home in Kasewe, Homa Bay county.

The anti-cremation team is led by one of Okoth’s other brothers and a sister who do not want to hear of cremation and want the MP laid to rest at maternal home in Homa Bay county.

They are supporting their mother Angeline who separated with her husband in 1980s.

On the other side, Okoth’s paternal family wants to bury the MP next to his father who was interred at Kanyachir Amocho village, Kochia, Rangwe subcounty.

After breaking up with her husband, Okoth’s mother built a home in her native Kasewe where she now wants her son’s remains interred.

Angeline Ojwang’ and Nicholas Obonyo separated in late 1980s after Okoth had been born and the dowry is alleged to have been returned.

In Luo culture, when dowry is taken back to the man’s family, it means marriage is dissolved.

Okoth’s father died and was buried in 1993 in Kochia.

Raymond Mbai, the paternal family’s spokesman, said they would wish that Okoth be buried next to his father in accordance to Luo traditions since the mother was married there and the dowry paid.

“Luo culture dictates that a man is buried at his or their father’s home. We appeal for the MP be buried here in Kochia,” Mbai said.

“MP Okoth remains our son despite the separation. It’s prudent if the body is buried near his father,” Mbai added.

Obonyo was polygamous and married two other women and had children with them.

Okoth stepbrother Alfred Omondi appealed for the body to be buried in Kochia.

“I am speaking on behalf of my late father. If he were alive this would have been his wish. His son would have been buried next to him,” Omondi said.

He claimed they have unsuccessfully attempted to reach the MP’s maternal family over the burial arrangements.

“We haven’t reached common ground on burial arrangements with one of my sisters in Nairobi,” he added.

Tentatively, the family had broadly agreed on having the body availed for public viewing in Nairobi on Thursday, with a memorial service by Starehe Boys community lined up early next week.

After that, it’s planned to fly the body to Kasawe at Got-Rateng’ Primary School grounds where a prayer service will be conducted.

Finally, he is to be flown back to Nairobi for cremation. But that’s tentative.

In the recent past, a number of prominent people including businessmen, politicians, church leaders and sports personalities have also chosen cremation, sometimes against the wishes of family members and their clans.

Cremated in keeping with their wills were former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, former Opposition chief Kenneth Matiba, former Anglican Archbishop Manase Kuria and his wife Mary, former Kanu minister Peter Okondo, former Sports administrator Joshua Okuthe’s and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.

Okoth had been diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer which he announced in February 2019.

He was rushed to the medical facility on July 25 after his condition deteriorated. He had suffered multiple organ failure and succumed on July 26.

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