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How Kenyans bury billions

By Standard Team | June 20th 2016

NAIROBI: People die. And if they are not cremated, they have to be buried.

It is that reality of burials, the ritual of funerals and the attendant final rites for the deceased that has spawned a multi-billion-shilling industry.

In interviews with dealers of coffins, hearses, and even with the 'professional' mourners in Nyanza region, who are paid to wail, The Standard has put together a burgeoning business niche of businessmen and entrepreneurs doing legitimate and lucrative business off the dead.

The morgue operators who do facial reconstruction and even make-up artists have not been left behind. They have to make sure the dead look smart and great on their final journey into the grave.

Then there are the transporters. When controversial businessman Jacob Juma died, a fleet of choppers carried the body from Nairobi to Bungoma. The following weekend, a little-known family of a senior chief from Meru hired a chopper from Nairobi for a 90-minute flight to Meru, which cost Sh500,000.

A former robber who dug up coffins, threw out the bodies and re-sold the coffins to the manufacturers, confesses that when he looked at the funerals, he once saw Sh2.4 million in a very expensive coffin – a missed opportunity. But families now fence grave sites and use fast-drying cement to ensure coffins with the remains of their loved ones remain untouched and undisturbed.

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