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Why Nakuru is mourning mortician

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | November 5th 2021

Nakuru County mortuary Mortician Titus Kithiya Kiio at his office on September 5, 2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Nakuru County is mourning the death of a dedicated mortician whose professionalism and mien helped many families in Nakuru and beyond bear the pain of losing their loved ones. 

Titus Kithiya, commonly known as Tito, was popular mortician who inherited the job from his father decades ago.

Tito was been a popular name among Nakuru town residents who have interacted with him during their lowest moments of losing their loved ones at the Nakuru County Mortuary popularly known as 'Kwa Jack.'

News about his demise was announced yesterday by Governor Lee Kinyanjui who described him as a man who was dedicated to his job and understood how to best to handle grieving persons.

“Tito worked in our county morgue - 'Kwa Jack' and took pride in his work. He worked with great commitment to help grieving families cope with their circumstances. He lived his life to the fullest and did not carry the sorrows of trade to his social sphere,” said Kinyanjui.

Tito was raised at the Nakuru County Hospital mortuary servant quarters when his father Jackson Kiio, popularly known as Jack, was in charge of the facility.

After serving the residents for 33 years, Mzee Kiio died in 1995 leaving the facility stuck with his name to date -Kwa Jack.

Having lived at the morgue all his childhood life, Tito was keen to learn about his father’s trade and perfectly fitted into his shoes in 1997 after the municipal council offered him the feared job.

Kiio's professionalism and mien helped many families in Nakuru and beyond bear the pain of losing their loved ones [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

In an interview with The Standard in 2018, Tito who passed on aged 45, said that he had learnt the necessary skills from his father years before his demise.

“Even before I was employed, I used to work at the morgue. I would give my father a helping hand at the facility on a daily basis. I was young and many feared what we did,” said Tito.

He explained that though he never planned to be a mortician, he landed the job after a member of his family declined to take over from his father after his death.

“The job had been offered to my elder brother but he declined. At first, my mother was hesitant to allow me work as a morgue attendant. She then realised I had passion for the job and gave me her blessings,” said Tito.

The job came with its own challenges some of which he said included emotional scenes and handling badly disfigured bodies especially from scenes of accident.

“I lost some of my friends while some only sympathized with me for the exposure I was having at the facility at such a tender age. I however never thought of quitting the job,” said Tito who served at the facility for 23 years.

Although Tito had a chance to be transferred to what the residents would consider a better job, Tito revealed that he on several occasions turned down offers made to him by municipal officials.

“I was always stigmatised whenever I mentioned where I work at social gatherings. But knowing the place they loathed and feared was my home and workplace made me cope up with the stigma,” he said.

He described his lowest moment at work as 2008 when tens of bodies of victims of post-election violence were delivered by the police and residents on a daily basis.

“Some of the bodies were located when they had extensively decomposed. The facility was overwhelmed by the numbers. Watching bodies of people killed in the violence lay on the floor due to lack of space was heartbreaking,” said Tito.

He however revealed that the job came with lessons among them being an arbiter when relatives would have a dispute over a body held at the facility.

“On many occasions I found myself arbitrating in disputes as families argued on where a body is to be buried. At other times families would come seeking assistance to trace burial permits issued decades earlier for legal use,” said Tito.

Governor Kinyanjui added that he knew Tito even before meeting him for the great name he and his family had made.

“I first met him having a drink with a common friend. I knew his name but we had not met before. Immediately he was introduced to me, I saw some awe around him. Some mystery that comes with the trade. These deserve respect and recognition,” said Kinyanjui.

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