Friends and relatives of the late veteran TV broadcaster Catherine Kasavuli were overwhelmed by grief during her requiem mass.
Mourners who had thronged Friends' International Centre on Ngong Road, Nairobi could not control their emotions and broke down as the white casket bearing the remains of Kasavuli made its way to the church pulpit. Every speaker who took to the podium to mourn the journalist, paid glowing tribute describing her as having an infectious smile that made everyone glued to the screens.
Journalists who were mentored by Kasavuli led by Linus Kaikai (Citizen TV), Christine Nguku (Media Council of Kenya) and Jimmy Gathu (Standard Group) said besides helping them grow to who they are today, she took to television with unprecedented flair. Political leaders led by Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Edwin Sifuna (Nairobi Senator), Former Attorney General Amos Wako, Charles Gimose (Hamisi MP) and George Aladwa (Makadara) were present.
Kasavuli, 60, died after battling cervical cancer for a long time at the Kenyatta National Hospital on December 29, last year where she had been hospitalised close to three months.
"Kasavuli had the face, the voice and the soul for TV and she lived it. As she lies in the coffin, she lies here in a unique position after having witnessed all the four evolutions of the media industry in Kenya. I am who I am today because of Catherine Kasavuli," said Kaikai
He went on: "She was in the Voice of Kenya (VoK), when it was the only broadcaster, she walked to KTN when the door was opened to allow one more broadcaster and she was there during the liberalization era when the media space was opened up and she was there when she went back to KBC right in the middle of digital broadcast transformation,"
Christine Nguku from the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) said that when she joined the media industry, it's the late Kasavuli who took the initiative of modeling her into a renowned news anchor at a younger age.
"Kasavuli told me, when you sit on the screen, you don't just sit but take over the space. She taught me how to speak good English since I had come up with a funny accent. Whenever you were around her, she always impacted on you. Her life was significant to each one of us even to those who do didn't know her," said Ms Nguku
Samuel Maina, acting KBC Managing Director said Kasavuli was like a mother to him by treating him well.
"When she reported, she said, I am back home after many years. Am ready to do good, and the wonderful Kasavuli did good, whenever she went on air, she would deliver the bulletin very well and trained many people in the time she was in KBC," said Mr Maina
Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua said that Kenya had lost a good daughter who impacted many lives during her time as a broadcaster.
"We met as adults when she was in the media and when I was a practicing lawyer and later a politician. She was always available to help when one always needed her. She is gone but her spirit will remain with us," said Karua
"Catherine was many things to many people but one thing unmistakable is that she had an amiable smile and performed her duties with excellence," she added
Kasavuli's son, Martin while eulogizing his mother told the mourners that they enjoyed cordial relationship and that he grew up knowing that he was the official bodyguard of her mother.
"You knew her as Catherine, I knew her as mom, for 40 something years. My job was to be mom's bodyguard when I had grown older. My mom and I formed a special bond from the day I was born and we were always laughing at each other," said Martin
He went on: "Even when she was struggling to educate me, we always had laughter at home and at school whenever she visited me. She wanted me to be on TV but I refused and did law but somehow, she took me into radio advertising at Radio Africa,"
Martin said she wanted him to be a TV journalist but turned down the offer which angered the mother. "The reason I didn't want to be on TV was that I was not ready to be on the limelight as filling her shoe was going to be a daunting task to me,"
He said that at the time the news came out that she had cervical cancer, they kept it as a top secret to her until they were sure she was ready to receive the bad news, saying she will miss the 'fights' they always had with the mother for refusing to be a journalist.
"I want to encourage men out there to please take an active role in the women in your life as far as cancer screening is concerned. Help them go for screening and if its detected early, it can be treated, taking early steps is crucial in cancer care and treatment," said Martin.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba said the newscaster was a precious sister that Western Kenya ever had. He also delivered condolences from President William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi to the mourners.
Namwamba said he met her on December 3, last year and 26 days later, he learnt of his demise, adding that it was the most difficult moment in his life.
Oposition leader Raila Odinga, in a statement read by Godfrey Osotsi, Vihiga Senator, said Kasavuli and her colleagues at KTN using the television played a big role in bringing freedom to this country.
"Democratization and the second liberation to this country when no one was able to voice against the government of the day. Her news were factual, were very objective and bold and encouraged those who were fighting for change in the country,'' Raila said.