The passing on of retired President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, Kenya’s second Commander in Chief on February 4, got many down memory lanes, reflecting on his leadership and his legacy. President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogized Moi as a great African statesman, an icon, a servant-leader, a man who championed for a harmonious Kenya and a staunch Christian who championed the rights of all persons of all faiths to observe their religion without discrimination or impediment.
To allow Kenyans to grieve the retired president, the head of state announced that Kenya will observe a period of National mourning starting Tuesday to the day that Moi will be laid to rest and shall be accorded a State Funeral, with all appropriate Civilian and Full Military Honours being rendered and observed.
The military took over operations at Lee Funeral Home, Nairobi, immediately it was announced that Moi had passed on. A meeting of high-ranking State and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officials was convened with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i as chairman. It was announced that Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua would chair the State funeral committee
A State Funeral is described as a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honour people of national significance. Normally they include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition.
Here is a list of prominent Kenyans treated to such honours.
1. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta
Kenyan’s founding father Mzee Kenyatta was the first to be accorded a state funeral on August 31 1978. To befit the fallen hero, the nation mourned Mzee Jomo for a month, who fought to see the country achieve its independence. As expected, his funeral generated mass publicity from both national and global media outlets.
One distinct feature being the gun carriage used at the 1965 funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s World War II Prime Minister was the same used to wheel his casket from State House through the streets of Nairobi to the marble mausoleum in Parliament Building where he was laid to rest.
2. Michael Wamalwa Kijana
He was serving as Kenya’s vice president in President Mwai Kibaki’s reign before meeting his untimely death. He fell sick and was taken to London for treatment, where he recovered, but fell ill again and died on the morning of 23 August 2003.
He was accorded a state burial at his farm in Kitale. Wamalwa was eulogized as a revolutionary leader.
3. Professor Wangari Maathai
She was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She was also the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to take a doctorate (in biology), and the first female professor ever in her home country of Kenya.
Professor Wangari died on 25 September 2011 from ovarian cancer while receiving treatment at a Nairobi hospital and was buried at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in Nairobi.
4. Mama Lucy Kibaki
The former first lady died in 2016 in a London hospital of an undisclosed illness. She was shrouded with controversy for slapping a cameraman in 2005 when she stormed the offices of a private media group in anger at the way a story about her had been reported.
She was hailed for her role fighting HIV/Aids in Kenya, which was a national disaster then.