Nyeri, Kenya: Burials are often associated with grief and mourning and it was a rare spectacle when a bereaved homestead broke into jubilation upon arrival of the remains of their loved one.
When the casket bearing the body of 30-year-old Christopher Mbatha Muriuki arrived at Gathaithi village in Mathira, family and friends broke into songs of praise as they ‘welcomed’ him home.
This would appear odd to a casual observer but for a family that has had to wait for close to five years to be allowed to bury their kin, it was more a celebration than a period of mourning.
Muriuki died in 2010 of injuries allegedly inflicted by his uncle over a land dispute.
His body was taken to Nyeri Provincial General Hospital mortuary and it was to remain there for the next couple of years as his family underwent a vigorous court battle that only served to add to their sorrow.
- Uber Eats boss: Kenyan market is easy, just have stellar service
- State bets on informal economy in job creation drive
- When a bribe threatened to tear the Maasai apart
- Is Wajackoyah manifesto just taking youth for a ride?
It was for this reason that the wailing, cries and tears, that would have accompanied Muriuki’s burial had he been laid to rest immediately following his murder, were long forgotten as relatives instead celebrated the end of their long wait.
Immediately the order was given by a Karatina Court, Muriuki’s family rushed to the mortuary where they picked the body a few minutes before sunset.
The body got home at a few minutes to 7pm and was immediately buried without a requiem service or any of the practices typically associated with burials.
Speaking to The Standard, the family’s spokesperson James Weru said the family has been embroiled in a dispute over ownership of a 10.8 acre land in Gathaithi.
Weru said chaos erupted at the home in 2010 which resulted in Muriuki sustaining serious injuries in the abdomen after his uncle allegedly attacked him with a panga.
He was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries while his uncle was arrested, charged in court and sentenced to four years but only served for one.
Weru said the man also moved to court and obtained an injunction that blocked Muriuki’s burial slated for January 24, 2010.
The injunction was only lifted this week when the family was finally allowed to inter the body of the deceased.
“We incurred a bill of Sh700,000 which we were able to raise through assistance from the county government and other well-wishers,” Weru said.
Ann Njoki, the deceased’s mother, called for the Government’s intervention to help them divide the land under contention saying the wrangles have caused them enough pain.
“How can we live in peace yet this remains unresolved. I am urging the Government to intervene and help us sub-divide this land so that everybody can live peacefully in their allocated portions,” she said.
Father Eliud Kamarwa, of Miiri parish who led the burial ceremony, asked family members to embrace forgiveness saying this is the only way for peace to prevail.
“Communities must also shun holding onto material things to the extend of causing pain and death to others. Land and other material things must not cause us to do these things yet we will all die and leave them here on earth,” he said.