Preparations in top gear for Prof Magoha burial at Yala rural home
Thousands of mourners are expected at the burial of former Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof George Magoha which will be held in Gem, Siaya County on Saturday.
Dignitaries including politicians, academicians, medics and locals are set to bid farewell to Prof Magoha who will be laid to rest at his Umiru village home, Yala.
Prof Magoha's in-laws from Nigeria have also arrived in the country and even joined the farewell caravan of the celebrated medic and academician, that snaked its way through the Nairobi streets on Wednesday.
Preparations have been in top gear at the home of the former CS to ensure everything is ready before Friday.
On Wednesday, the road to his home had been paved and as the Nation team visited, Kenya Power and Lighting Company staff were erecting more concrete poles on the sides and installing solar powered lamps.
Inside the home, a multi-agency team including the security team, Kenya Power, Kenya Railways Corporation, Siaya Bondo Water and Sanitation Company and various service providers, was meeting to ensure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted before the D-day.
As they were meeting some young men were preparing the grave site of Prof Magoha just behind his palatial home.
The meeting roughly 45 minutes before they visited the home of Prof Alex Richard Nyabera Magoha, the former CS’s brother almost two weeks ago to check whether there would be adequate space to park vehicles within the compound on Friday and Saturday.
They later left to inspect Maseno University, Odera Campus in Yala Town where the funeral service will be held and later Yala Township Primary School where the military chopper carrying the remains of Prof Magoha will land on Friday
While the family and the government remain non-committal on the high powered dignitaries expected at the funeral, it is highly likely that the three top leaders in the country might attend.
President William Ruto, his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga could for the first time share a platform should they all be present in Gem, Yala on Saturday.
The three political protagonists who are embroiled in bickering triggered by the anti –government protests by Mr Odinga are expected to share a podium at the requiem of Prof Magoha in Nairobi and later the burial in Umiru village, Gem sub-county in Siaya County on Saturday.
Apart from the trio, also expected at the funeral are Wiper Democratic Movement Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Democratic Action Party of Kenya leader Mr Eugene Wamalwa, Charity Ngilu of Narc-K, Martha Karua of Narc and the Kenyatta regime cabinet.
Already, the government through the ministry of defense has offered a helicopter that will ferry Prof Magoha's body and close family members from Nairobi to Gem.
On top of that, the government has brought relief food as promised by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Sh1.2 million as contribution from Cabinet members which was presented to the family by the Cabinet Secretary for ICT and digital economy Mr Eliud Owalo.
But even as the possible political clash looms large, family, locals and political commentators feel the three leaders may choose to respect the wishes of the family of Prof Magoha who have made it clear they would not want to turn the funeral into a political rally.
The looming clash is evident even as the family maintains that politics be kept out of the funeral because the former Education CS was not a politician.
When the Nation spoke to Prof Magoha’s elder brother John Obare Magoha, he stated that while he understands the current political activities around the country, he expects the politicians to behave well during the funeral.
Mr Obare said the family has received reports that the Head of State will be attending the funeral in Gem and is aware that his entourage will be of politicians. His prayer however is that politics don’t take centre stage.
“We have heard the rumours that the President will attend as well as other dignitaries. But while they are allowed to say whatever they want to say, we do not expect politics to overtake the funeral service,” said Mr Obare.
He stated that nothing changes the fact that Mr Odinga remains a hero in an area where the funeral will take place, but called for tolerance during the burial.
“Raila is a hero in this region but we all know Prof was not a politician and therefore we expect all politicians to behave decently for the sake of my brother,” said Mr Obare.
Mr Obare told the Nation that Prof Magoha's body will arrive at the Yala Township Primary School at 1 pm on February 10, afterwards, there will be a procession leading up to St Mary's High School, Yala led by the Starehe School boys band.
At 2 pm, the body will be ferried to Prof Magoha’s residence in Umiru Village where there will be a requiem mass and tributes. The body will stay overnight ahead of the burial.
On Saturday morning there will be a procession by academicians from the late Prof Magoha’s home to Maseno University, Odera Akang’o Campus in Yala where the funeral service will be held and later family members led by the clergy will accompany the body for the final burial rites at his home.