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Funeral Politics in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 19, 2012

As Kenya prepares for fresh elections slated for late December or early January, politicians are leaving nothing to chance. Funerals have become hunting grounds for votes.

As Kenya prepares for fresh elections slated for late December or early January, politicians are leaving nothing to chance. Funerals have become hunting grounds for votes.

On a hot, sunny afternoon in the remote village of Nangili in western Kenya, a mournful crowd has gathered. The mood is somber and only a muffled whimper or two can be heard amidst the hushed tones.

Occasionally a scream cuts through the air from mourners who are unable to restrain themselves after looking at the remains of a young man in a brown casket. The coffin lies beside a fresh mound of earth by the open grave. Then a burly man in an ill-fitting suit stands to address the crowd.

A message The man introduces himself as Maloba. “You know the work I have done as a councilor. This is an election year,  so vote for me again if you want me to continue with the good work I have been doing. Look at my development record. It speaks for itself. I have almost single-handedly brought the rural access road in this area. It’s not actually my job – it should have been done by the municipal council – but I did it anyway, because I am your servant.”

He then proceeds to deliver a “message” from a Mr Enock Kibunguchy, a former area member of parliament hoping to recapture his seat in the upcoming elections.

“He sent me to give you 2,000 Kenyan shillings [18 euros] to help pay for the funeral expenses, so please remember to vote for Enock. When he was member of parliament, he did far better than the current one who is just sleeping on the job,” he says, before leaving in a huff, probably headed to another funeral.

Bereavement with insults The trend is especially notorious over the weekends, when established politicians will negotiate roads in expensive rough terrain vehicles to the remotest ends of the country, to apparently mourn with the bereaved families of people they barely knew.

When they get the chance to step on a podium to address the gathered mourners, they will go ballistic. It’s all politics taking centre stage. They will tear into the policies of their opponents and insults on their character are not uncommon.

The phenomena has become so widespread that Kenya’s Internal Affairs minister Orwa Ojode banned the turning of funerals into political forums in January, threatening the arrest of politicians who ignore the directive. A politician has yet to be arrested as the practice continues.


“It is wrong from whatever angle you look at it from, “moans Pastor Emmanuel Muhanga of the Iliva Pentecostal Church in western Kenya. “Here is a family in mourning that needs closure and consolation. Then a selfish politician comes preaching politics. These people need to be sensitive to the plight of those who have lost loved ones. It is unfair. I remember this one funeral where badly tempered politicians from the Orange Democratic Movement and the G7 Alliance openly disagreed, each criticising the other for lack of vision and poor ideals. At a funeral! What a shame!” A lucrative trade Elections in Kenya like in many parts of the world are highly competitive. Kenyan members take home an estimated 114,000 euros annually, ranking them amongst the highest paid politicians in the world according to a report by British weekly The Economist. Hence anyone eyeing a seat will go to great lengths in order to secure it.

Source: http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/funeral-politics-kenya



6 Responses to “Funeral Politics in Kenya”

  1. juddy said

    Politicians are only selfish lot,yet we are their slaves.supporting even land grabbers.

  2. and who is to blame ? if you let your loved one funeral used as a political rally then dnt complain…. kanyan have a very funny way of life.am not suprised.

  3. Manu said

    @ they hijack podiums to spill out their toxic obnoxiuosness and the people sit down and buy the crap. They should be held accountable for this crudity and be punished at the ballot box.

  4. J.ROPE said


  5. Nairobian said

    The qualities of a true politician. Selfish, insensitive, lies without feeling any shame, no feelings of guilt, nacissistic, cold, yet a very clean, well dressing and a good speaker who is willing to make promises that he/she cannot keep. We fall for their lies every time…

    You have to be ‘special’ to be a politician in Africa…

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