By Mbithe Waeni
Kenyans have just buried the remains of a former Governor in a ceremony that could be described as being ostentatious.
Nderitu Gachagua, the former Governor of Nyeri County in central Kenya, died in the British capital, London, where he was seeking medical treatment.
Sleek limousines snaked to the late politicians home where 18 helicopters landed at the nearby grounds of Hiriga Primary School.
This brazen display of power and wealth in a country gripped with famine and for whose three million starving population the United Nations humanitarian agencies have appealed for global assistance did not go well with observers who accused politicians of misuse of public resources.
It is good to bury anyone with respect . But Gachagua’s burial, like that of other government dignitaries, brought the head of state and anyone else who matters in Kenya’s administrative and political structures to the Mount Kenya region.
A visiting European friend who watched the function on television teased me, “Is the deceased your President?”
“Yes, he is our king,” I said.
“How much money is the state using on that funeral?” he asked then, without waiting for an answer, said the funeral would have been attended by a handful people had it been in Europe where our presidents go on begging mission.
But just think about the cost of bringing the President there accompanied by the Governors of Kenya’s 47 Counties, Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Parliamentarians, senior Civil Servants, security machinery, friends and families of those attending; all driving petrol-gazzling SUVs, Land Cruisers while others fly helicopters. Think about the amount of petrol used, the amount of money spent on officers outside their station, the cost of telecommunication, the loss of productive work hours . . . !
And this resource-wasting extravagance is not confined to funerals. There also weddings and fundraisers, and launches and commissioning of projects and conferences and many other social functions.