Monday, February 23, 2009

I See Dead People

Each day, you open your daily newspaper, you expect to read about the good, the bad and the ugly. And that is exactly what you get when you open the Obituaries pages.

For some reasons, Kenyans have made it habitual to fill daily newspapers with photos of their beloved ones who have sadly, passed on.

The obsession is baffling. Frankly, why isn’t it just enough to place an announcement without having to attach the mugs of persons, at times pictured smiling or laughing or in graduation regalia?

For most Kenyans, the very first time that they see their photos in the daily press is when they are dead! Ahem…

The obituaries also seem to have a standard opening line: It is with humble acceptance of God’s will that we…

Humble acceptance. As opposed to 'arrogant acceptance'? Perhaps non-acceptance.

But surely, once you use the word ‘we’ it is necessary for people to know who ‘we’ refers to. Is it the newspaper? Is it the relatives? Is it Workland? If you expect those who have placed the announcement to indicate who they are, think again.

Instead, what follows is a long list of all the relatives of the deceased. And not just a list of relatives, the announcement won’t be complete if you do not indicate where all these relatives work.

Is the reason places of work are indicated so that those in denial can identify themselves? Is it so that those persons can use the obituary cutting as evidence to get off work?

Sometimes it is embarrassing when someone passes away and you realize from the obituary that he or she had employed most of their relations in the Department they were working in if they were in Government.

Of course, if someone is not in the motherland, it is absolutely necessary to inform everybody where they are. So brackets are placed after the names with clear indications which country that person is residing. Come on.

And then sometimes you read that 'the body will leave the mortuary'. Leave? You can think a Lazarus will happen. No. The cadaver will be removed, surely, without being willing.

If you are thinking that is the last time your mug appears in the press, please just don’t die because there is more. An appreciation message comes a few days after your burial.

So you may be thinking, ‘Why don’t these folks buy ‘Thank You’ cards and write to those that assisted them during the mourning period. Or send text messages to them at a cheaper cost. No way! We have to show that the funeral was graced by some big shot or political heavyweight. And advertise that!

Now, I know that the leading newspaper circulation could be 250,000 people per day. Living people. So how come, one freaking year later, we are putting up anniversary messages and addressing the dead person.

You are dearly missed!’

Not even, ‘We, being his wife and children and his creditors, dearly miss him!’

As the First Lady said whilst lambasting Prof. Saitoti for holding séances, dead people cannot be taught a lesson. Similarly, dead people do not read newspapers. Or go online to read the transitions messages.

We might not realize this, but it may be cost effective to simply put an announcement in the classified pages and use the rest of the funds we have been wasting on other things that we have also been wasting our moneys on.

Or if we must really do it, let us have fun whilst at it. After all, an anagram of 'funeral' is 'real fun'. Like saying:

Dad isn't John Darwin. He has not faked his own death. He really really passed away. Gave up his ghost. Reached his sell by date. Thankfully, not by the death penalty. Or that global warming that Al Gore keeps yapping about.

He leaves behind an unmade bed, unwashed utensils, a Giorgio Armani suit and of course, a will.

Following this termination, we intend to bury him. Not to make sure... come on. The interment shall be at room temperature because Dad was so hot. Or at least mum thinks so. There will be a last dance (which he won't participate in, LOL!). We are dead serious, pardon the pun, but he will take up residence at Lang'ata Cemetery without having to worry about rent.

The family of Whispers have fun doing it and even use a caricature of this true Kenyan legend. Now such are obituary messages that I can read.

* with deepest apologies to actual persons depicted above simply for illustration purposes. This blog is in loving memory of a loved one.


Mama said...

You mentioned the way relatives start stating their jobs in the obituary. I wonder what you think about this, I knew a guy who died (duh! of course) and his family did not mention anything in the obituary but his credentials and his jobs.

The man had done so so much! At the end of all his listings, members of the family lacked the space to say who they are except to mention 'his family lives in America'

Anonymous said...

you got me at the saitoti seance. lol. this is a kenyan habit and you will hear people who also talk to the dead at funerals telling them bye or why did you leave us!!! lmao.

baengele wanted to know how many suits wamalwa had. your obituary sorts that out. lol.

SG said...

Very well said.

Kwanza on that part that says where all the relaz work

@ Mama Lol. Ati, they run out of space and and said 'his family is in America' Classic!

KK said...

Actually Dad did not pass away, he moved on to the next life after using up all the stay out of the grave passes he had.

joyunspeakable said...

tis sad....

i appreciate the obituaries i met this dude..he gave me his number....a few`weeks down the line i see appreciation stuff on him...he died in an accident two days after i met him. was supposed to call him for tea/coffee that month....

that money should be wasted in doing what you cant do for people in their lives...i have seen cucu's neglected by kith and kin in their old age...only for them to appear partriachical/matriachical after death..shame

The Emrys said...

this is killer man

pink m said...

I always tell the people close to me to give me all the cash they intend to spend on my burial now while I'm alive.

Talk about 1 year anniversaries, what about those who do 10 year, 20 year? We surely got lot's of money.

Cee said...

The blog is very funny and reflective, but after a while away you come to appreciate the obituaries with the pics. It's not only a Kenyan habit, it's african.
Considering many of us mostly relate using nicknames, I guess the "pics" help us identify the person. In europe they just use words, no pics, nothing. I know it's a bad habit but there are times I used to just read the obituaries and check out the people with large announcements and those best dressed in the pics...I know many people do that msikatae....

Urbane' said...

Ha haaa... this is very funny... and still very true! He heee... Promotion to Glory LOL!

Peter Njenga said...

My blogging hiatus is now over, I have eventually VUKAD to WordPress with two new blogs: ‘Peter’s Walkabout’ and ‘Green Kenya’.
Check these out at

mboiz said...

never been here b4.i like the title 'i see dead people'; reminds me how the game starts his 'one blood' hip hop track! me thinks pple have lots of money esp for those yearly anniversaries! off to previous posts.

nuttycow said...

I love counting how many children they have... It's always about 11 "amongst others" - how would you feel if you were one of the "others"?!

Our Kid said...

Ati 'amongst others'? LMAO! That can only happen if you are Akuku Danger and have about fifty kids.

I saw in a recent ASunday Nation an appreciation message that 'You were so funny. God must be laughing daily at your jokes!' Seriously! Seriously! We envision people to become stand up comedians in heaven?

Anonymous said...

totally unnecessary just like videos of the funeral and associated crap that people bestow on the dead - its life that should be celebrated!

Or that global warming that Al Gore keeps yapping about - and they gave him a Nobel prize for it...I am still PISSED.

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