A former Nakuru County long serving teachers’ unionist was yesterday buried at dawn to beat a court order meant to bar the family from burying him over a child borne out of wedlock.
When mourners started trickling at the homestead Kuria Njau who was the executive secretary of Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) at Subuku in Njoro, they were shocked to find that he had been interred at 6am.
The family decided to bury Njau, a vocal defender of teachers’ rights, after word went round that a 40-year old woman claiming to be her daughter had obtained a court order to bar the burial ceremony.
According to the relative, Njau’s body was picked at Umash morgue located along Nakuru-Nairobi Highway at 5am, and later buried at 6am.
“We received information that a lady claiming to be Njau's daughter had gotten an order because she wants to be recognized as family member so that she gets a share of inheritance and we had to act really quick,” he said.
A section of Njau’s relatives, church members, local politicians, teachers and friends who gathered at the homestead were shocked to learn about his early burial.
Even KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion who arrived at the homestead at around 11.30am to bury a comrade was shocked when family members directed him to the freshly covered grave where he, together with other national officials conducted a short prayer.
The union officials and teachers conducted a short prayer and made few remarks in remembrance of Njau in a session that lasted less than 30 minutes before dispersing.
Other individuals who had traveled from far to pay their last respects to a man who fought for the rights of teachers in the region were turned away one by one by mean looking individuals hired by the family to maintain order.
“I am shocked with the turn of events. I traveled from Nakuru to come attend burial of Njau who used to associate with individuals across the board only to learn he has been buried,” said a relative who requested anonymity.
Members of the Bethsaida Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) church that was to lead the burial service were too turned away after realizing their member had been buried early morning.
“We came to bury our church member but we did nothing. We did not conduct any prayers because burial was done without our knowledge,” said a clergy who requested anonymity.
A section of teachers drove the union welfare bus to pick the body at Umash at around 8am, but were informed that the body had been transported, and further buried.
A teacher who spoke to The Standard but requested anonymity said teachers had agreed to gather at the morgue by around 8am but it had been picked by members of the family.
“We gathered at the morgue to pick Njau’s body, but we were surprised it was nowhere only to learn it had been buried in the early morning,” said the teacher
On arrival at the homestead, family members had already prepared grave, and even without a word of prayer, it was laid to rest.
“The body arrived to the homestead at around 5am, and at around 6am, it was laid to rest. No word of prayer was said, no consolation to the family. It surprised us,” said a relative.
Sossion said death of Njau hasd saddened teachers’ fraternity in the country and consoled his wife Edith Kuria at the grave site.
The secretary general said Njau was a dedicated member of the union who united teachers within rift Valley region and across all the 25 teachers’ branches across the country who referred to his as ‘Afande’ because of his command of respect.
“Njau was a dedicated teacher who was full of courage, he defended rights of teachers across the country and said he did not fear anyone apart from his wife and God,” said the official.
Further, he said the unionist fought tribalism among teachers, a virtue that has enabled them work in unity.
During the 2007/8 post-election skirmishes, he helped a lot of teachers who had been threatened and used his money to hire hotels in Nakuru to rescue those who had been evicted from their respective homes.
“Teachers are united because of Njau’s efforts. He fought tribalism and was arrested on several times, that is why we speak in unity,” he added.
At the grave site, Faith Githae family member thanked teachers for support they had granted to the family.
Whereas all these was happening, Njau’s wife Edith Kuria dressed in a black dress and cap watched silently.
“I am Edith Kuria. This is all I can share,” she told The Standard writer.