By ALEX NDEGWA
Down a red carpet in a casket borne by his Cabinet colleagues, serenaded by three choirs and surrounded by family and friends, Prof George Kinuthia Saitoti was Saturday laid to rest in his Enkasiti home in Kajiado North constituency.
Kenyans bid an emotional farewell to the former Internal Security minister as the curtails fell on the life of one of the senior leaders with a political career spanning three decades. Prof Saitoti, who served the longest as Vice-President under President Daniel Moi, was accorded a sendoff befitting a Statesman.
Hundreds of people lined up along the route from the Lee Funeral Home, where the funeral cortege departed in the morning, and the crowds swelled at Kitengela, the last town to his Kitengela home.
At 10.45am, the 40km procession brought the coffin-draped in the colours of the national flag to the venue for the funeral service, an expansive ground adjacent to his final resting place at his residence.
There President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, former Presidents Moi and Ghanian Gerry Rawlings, ministers and MPs were among the thousands of mourners who joined the family in subdued congregation. Tanzania President jakaya Kikwete sent a message of condelesce through his minister. Bangladesh and South Sudan also sent delegations to the funeral of the former Kajiado North MP.
Interfaith prayers were held but the Catholic Church’s Cardinal John Njue led the funeral service, which lasted nearly six hours.
Saitoti’s widow Margaret had a special tribute to her husband, which was read by a relative, who was at one point overcome with emotion, her voice trailing off.
His son Zach said he had lost “my rock, my Goliath and my dad” and vowed to live up to his advice.
In a show of solidarity, Kalonzo, Deputy Prime Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi led fellow ministers in acting as pallbearers. Speaker Kenneth Marende led 90 MPs to the burial, who included 20 ministers and assistant ministers, and Clerk of National Assembly Patrick Gichohi.
Prof Saitoti perished in a chopper crash in Ngong Forest last Sunday alongside his assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh, who will be buried today, two Kenya Police bodyguards and two pilots from the force.
On Saturday, it was suggested that a monument be erected at the site of the horrific crash in honour of the fallen minister, who was eulogised as a patriot, dedicated public servant and peace loving Kenyan.