Let me be, late Kibra MP Ken Okoth’s mother tells elders

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 00:00 |
Angeline Ajwang, mother of late Kibra MP Ken Okoth, during the memorial service at the Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi last week. Photo/TABITHA MBATIA

Family members of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth, political and religious leaders have turned their guns on the Luo Council of Elders for its continued demands for traditional rituals following cremation of the legislator. 

Okoth’s mother Angeline Ajwang fired the first salvo yesterday by asking the elders to tone down on their demands and allow her to mourn in peace.

The reaction followed insistence by chairman of a faction of the council, Nyandiko Ongadi, that the Luo culture and tradition after the burial of a deceased must be followed to the letter.

Among their demands is the cleansing and inheritance of the MP’s widow Monica with Ongadi insisting she must perform “twe chola”, a rite which requires she dons her late husband’s clothes during the mourning period.

Monica, who he termed as an “illegitimate wife”, is also barred from inheriting Okoth’s estate for failing to accompany her mother-in-law to Ogenga village, Homa Bay county to perform the rituals. 

But speaking to People Daily on phone yesterday, a seemingly irritated Ajwang called upon the elders to respect the family during the mourning period.

“The best thing they could have done is to come and sit down with me as the mother instead of going to the media. They should let my son rest in peace,” she said.

Earlier, the elders had accused Ajwang of allowing the cremation to go on.

“In our community, we do not cremate and what happened is against our culture and it must be condemned,” the elders said

But Ajwang said the elders ought to have come earlier to stand with her.

“They saw what happened, did you even see one of them coming to me to give advice on what should happen? They now say I was part of the cremation idea, did they see me attend the ceremony?” she asked.

Political leaders from the region also joined the fray by terming the call by the elders “retrogressive and an embarrassment to the community”.

“Those cultures have been overtaken by events,” said Kisumu Woman Rep Rosa Buyu.

Kasipul Kabondo MP Eve Obara said: “The elders should let the family be instead of going to the media and embarrassing the entire community over traditions.”

ODM chairman John Mbadi said: “The elders should find a proper and amicable way of tackling such issues and also respect decisions of the family.”

South Nyanza Anglican Bishop also waded into the matter and said: “The elders should not force the family to do what they don’t want to.”

Nyandiko, however, maintained his position that the family must be cleansed. 

“We must visit the home and let them know how they have violated the culture and find a solution,” he said.

Ajwang arrived in her Ogenga home on sunday, a day after the cremation of his son at Kariakor crematorium, an event which she skipped.

Relatives and family members ejected the media from the compound saying that the event was private. Okoth succumbed to colectoral cancer on July 26 at the age of 41.

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