Sombre mood at memorial service of crash victims

Portraits of five family members who perished in the Ethiopian Airline crash, during a memorial service held in Bahati, Nakuru, yesterday. [Harun Wathari, Standard]
Raw emotion cut through Paul Njoroge’s homestead as friends and family held a requiem service for their loved ones.

As the proceedings continued, and the eulogies poured in, only portraits were mourned, every tear drop that found its way out of the eyes of the bereaved grieving only a memory, for Njoroge had no bodies to bury.

Portraits, neatly arranged on tables covered with yellow fabric were all they grieved over, the remains of their kin still in far away Ethiopia where his wife and three children perished in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed everyone on board on March 10.

Njoroge was joined by the family of his father-in-law, John Karanja - who also lost his wife Anne Wangui in the crash. She was travelling with Njoroge’s wife, Caroline and their three children - Ryan, Kerry and Rubi.

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Njoroge said the decision to have a memorial service was agreed upon after consultation with his church, the Seventh Day Adventist.

“In African setup, people mourn together whenever they lose a loved one; but because we did not collect their remains, we decided to conduct a memorial service to find closure,” said Njoroge.

The St Anthony Engashura Catholic Church shall conduct mass at Karanja’s home on Friday next week. Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui attended the memorial mass and condoled with the family.

The family of Sister Florence Wangari, who also perished in the ill-fated crash, conducted a memorial service this week at their Mbogoini home in Subukia. Led by Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, the family said they agreed to conduct mass to seek closure after failing to get remains of their loved one.

Her uncle Joseph Waruinge said before intervention, the family thought of placing the soil collected from the site in a casket for burial.

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However, the Catholic institution where Wangari was ordained said conducting the ritual was against Christian values.

And in Nairobi, mourners met at Consolata Shrine in Westlands to celebrate the life of Anne Musyoki-Munyao, who was also died in the crash.

They too had no body to view, and mourners stared into emptiness and a table that should have perhaps carried a coffin.

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