We won’t allow Ken Okoth’s body to be burnt, vow Luo elders
A faction of the Luo Council of Elders has opposed the cremation of the body of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth saying it offends Luo customs.
The elders say they will not allow the MP’s body to be burnt.
Mr Okoth’s European wife Monica and the MP’s younger brother are pushing for the cremation of the body. According to the two, it was the MP’s wish to be cremated.
But the Luo council of elders said cremation would be against Luo customs.
Mr Ongadi argued that Okoth is a son of the Luo community whose burial arrangements must conform to the local culture.
“I was told that the late MP would be burned to ashes. This is against Luo customs and any Luo should not dare think of it,” he said.
The senior citizen claimed the comments that legislator is believed to have made could have been out of love and that Okoth’s wife should not dictate the manner in which he should be given a sendoff.
“Our culture requires that if intermarriage involves our son, his wife should automatically adopt the Luo practices,” Mr Ongadi said.
The Luo elder told political leaders involved in funeral arrangements to engage the council in funeral arrangements to avoid controversies.
“It is not pleasing to see wrangles in such kinds of funerals. At least organizers of the program should include us when making plans,” he said.
The council has also arbitrated on where Okoth should be buried. There is no clear place where the MP would be laid to rest.
His paternal family wants him to be buried next to his father and father at their rural home within Kochia Ward in Rangwe Sub County.
Meanwhile his mother Anjeline Ajwang wants the MPs body to be buried at her home in Kasewe in Kabondo Kasipul.
Mr Ongadi said he had sent the council chairman in Homa Bay County Owili Mwai to Okoth’s paternal family in Kochia to make enquiries on where the MP will be buried.
According to him, the paternal family owns all rights to bury the body. The paternal family spokesman Raymond Mwai argued that Okoth’s father Nicholas Anayo Obonyo had married his mother and had paid bride price.
The couple separated when Okoth was still young. Mr Ongadi said the council will make enquiries if the dowry was still binding to enable the paternal family to own the body.
“Payment of dowry is a sign that the husband ‘owns’ a woman. In case of death of the two, the body should be buried at the paternal home,” he said.
He, however, argued that if the dowry was not paid or was paid and taken back after the separation, Okoth can be buried in his mother’s home in Kabondo Kasipul constituency.
The paternal family of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth claims it has been kept in the dark over burial plans of the legislator.
The family which hails from Kanyachir Amocho Village, in Kochia within Rangwe sub county in Homa Bay County says it has not been involved in the burial arrangements of the MP.
The family spokesman Raymond Mbai said Tuesday they would wish that the deceased to be buried at the ancestral home of his late father in Kochia. He argued this would be in accordance to Luo traditions.
“When someone dies he should be buried within his father’s home. In this case, the MP comes from Kochia and should be buried in Kochia,” Mr Mbai said.
However, the family was quick to add that they would respect the MP’s wishes if he chose to be buried elsewhere.
The family argues that Mr Okoth’s parents, Nicholas Obonyo and Ms Angeline Ajwang separated when the MP was young in the 1980s.
According to Mr Mbai, the MP, at a young age, moved to his mother’s ancestral home in Ogenga Village in Kabondo Kasipul constituency.
The separation made Okoth to be “forgotten” at his father’s home back in Kochia.
His death has now brought controversy on where Okoth should be buried.
According to the family spokesman, the MP is a grandson to a paramount chief identified as Obonyo who served for 50 years during the colonial era.
The chief had a polygamous family with many children, among them Okoth’s father identified as Nicholas Obonyo.
Mr Mbai said the father had three wives including the MP’s mother, Ms Ajwang who hails from Kabondo Kasipul.
“Some family issues made the parents separate. The mother moved with all her children to her parents’ home in Kabondo Kasipul,” he added.
The MP’s father was buried in Kochia in 1993 on a piece of land where his grandfather was buried.
Now, some of Okoth’s cousins, uncles and aunts wants the MP to be buried next to his father and grandfather.
DIED LAST WEEK
Mr Mbai said this has been the wish of the entire family since the MP died last week.
“After the MP’s parents separated, family members tried in vain to bring them back together. We would wish that her mother would honour traditions and let her son be buried next to his father,” he said.
He asked the family to consider the will that the late MP might have written.
“He might have left a note that we might not have not come across. Maybe he talked to his wife about his future plans. We appeal to the family to tell us where they want their son to be buried,” the family spokesperson said.
Mr Mbai added that the government may be having different plans for the burial of the MP. He said they should also be involved in this.
His sentiments were supported by Mr Okoth’s step brother Mr Alfred Omondi who insisted that the MP should be buried next to his father.
“I am speaking on behalf of my late father. If he was alive this would have been his wish. His son would have been buried next to him,” he said.
He claimed his attempts to communicate with the maternal family of the MP over the burial arrangement have not been successful.
“I was able to reach one of my sisters who argued that her opinion in the burial plans would not be considered because in our traditions on matters of death, the female voice does not count much,” Mr Omondi said.
The family further extended an olive branch to Okoth’s maternal relatives to consider their wish.
Mr Chrispine Aseto, one of his uncles asked for forgiveness to the MP’s mother.
He said they do not object the area where the MP will be buried however wish he would be buried in Kochia.