Of burial emcees, greetings and roll of shame - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 7 February 2021

Of burial emcees, greetings and roll of shame


When the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) roll is called up yonder, two Gusii politicians will be there.

MPs Paul Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and Silvanus Osoro Onyiego (South Mugirango) will be in the roll of the NCIC  after they were slotted into its list of shame last week for fighting at a funeral – stretching the names in the list to four.

At the burial of a fallen elder of the Seventh Day Adventist faith, where mourners typically sing about being in the roll of God on Judgment Day, the two MPs squabbled their way into the NCIC roll.

Should either of them be listed there two more times, the commission’s boss says the politician will be promoted to the wall of shame and probably be barred from vying for any political position.

It unravelled like the fight of two toddlers seeking the attention of their parents. 

Deputy President William Ruto was in attendance at the burial of Mzee Abel Gongera, the father of Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi. ODM leader Raila Odinga was also there. Mr Arati is an ardent supporter of Mr Odinga’s while Mr Osoro is a Dr Ruto diehard.

Impressing their masters 

And it was clear this was a rat race to impress their masters, though they have downplayed that reality.

They were interviewed by NTV the following day, where they apologised to Kenyans for the scene. But being typical politicians, they could not pass up a chance to trivialise what happened.

“I was only going to switch off the microphone and he (Mr Arati) pushed me and I went into self-defence mode,” Mr Osoro said. “Mr Arati was trying to bring up issues of the 2007-08 post-election violence and I put my community in my heart.”

On further probing, Mr Osoro – a first-time MP on the Kenya National Congress Party – then gave a very politician-like explanation of what happened after he smelled a rat regarding a point Mr Arati was driving home.

Hakuna mahali watu walipigana. Ilikuwa tu kusalimiana kwa haraka (People didn’t fight; it was just greetings happening rapidly),” he said.

Mr Arati, for his part, laughed off Mr Osoro’s explanation that the latter was out to switch off the microphone.

Yeye si DJ wa mic. Hangeweza kuja kuzima mic (He’s not the emcee. There is no way he was to come to switch it off),” said the ODM lawmaker.

Violent conduct

In the interview, Mr Arati was reminded of the instances where he has been in the news for violent conduct but rather than being rattled, the 39-year-old insisted he is a peace-loving Kenyan.

The tiff was not the first time politicians cheapened a burial by pushing their interests and disregarding the mood of the moment.

In 2017, for instance, a family in Siaya County felt so irritated by an act of politicians hijacking a burial that the son of the deceased man demanded that the politicians pay Sh50,000 for the venue.

And all over Kenya, politicians always see burials as sources of free crowds and will attend not to condole with the bereaved but to push their agenda.

The NCIC list of shame now has former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko , Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno and the two new entrants – who told NTV that their addition to the list was uncalled for.

Will any politician develop morbid fear of the roll and avoid drama at burials? Time will tell.

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