Last week, I wrote about what a summer bunny may go through when dealing with the death of a family member. A lot of people wrote to me sharing their own similar and tragic incidents.
Another kind of death that we have to think about is our own death. Even though dying is universal and is a process we will all go through, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.
No one spends a lot of time contemplating their own death.
But this subject became very real and personal when someone called me to tell me my young friend Vinnie Atieno had passed away in June this year.
The incidents that occurred after her death have been tragic and humiliating. But they have also forced me to think about issues I’d rather avoid.
The top consideration after a Kenyans’ death in Diaspora is ‘where would the family like the body to be buried?’
99% of the time, the answer is in Kenya. Tradition and the wishes of your parents follow this.
The next question would be ‘how will you raise funds to ship the body to Kenya?’
Who’s responsibility does that fall on….…is it left to your friends who live abroad or is it your families responsibility back home?
I admit these are questions I have never pondered or even prepared for.
I posed these questions to ladies who had been in Diaspora for a longer time and had large platforms that catered to Kenyans in Diaspora.
I first spoke to Mkenya Ujerumani in Germany.
SB: Is there a normal procedure that is followed when a Kenyan in Diaspora passes away?
MK: There is no set procedure,really. Other than telling the Embassy that a Kenyan has died and your family taking care of the burial, the rest ni maua tu.
Some families decide to bury the body here and they travel from Kenya for the burial, others decide they prefer to bury the person in Kenya, so they send the money and the body is sent home.
Where you are buried depends on your wishes. You can take insurance if you want to be buried in Kenya.
Drama shows up usually when people start mambo ya kuchanga, sijui family inasema lazima mtu azikwe Kenya and they don’t even have money to pay for it. Wengine wanataka kukuja na hawana pesa. Of course when there are doubts about the cause of death, that might also delay the process.
From my point of view, you should organize it yourself. Get insurance, either from a company where you are or one in Kenya (might be easier for your family to follow up on the cash cause of the language). Register your next of kin and let them know of the insurance and your wishes. When you die, everyone is ready.
Shida ya wengi wetu is we want to remain in the old days. Mtu amekufa, tuanze kuchanga, people argue over where the body will be buried, money disappears. There’s drama and delay and the family still has to sort themselves out, juu wengi ya wale hujitokeza only do it to get the cash.
Mkenya has a huge blog and has lived in Germany for more than 5 years. She knows what she is talking about. She has seen this scenario being played over and over again. This is the unfortunate reality. I like that she does not mince words or sugar coat anything.
The next person I spoke to was Susan Njeri Kariuki in Dallas, TX. She is the founder and CEO of Karisan Media, which is the leading online African Radio in the Diaspora, with a reach of over 25,000 Africans in the Diaspora. Susan has her pulse on anything Diaspora related.
SK: Here in the USA….the first thing we do is to mobilize people and create a committee that will prepare a memorial service where people come to view the body and create a contribute fund to enable the family cope with the financial burden of losing a loved one. This committee comprises of family members if any and close friends.
Our media houses also play a major role in keeping our communities aware of everything that is going on. The churches (Kenyan churches) and Kenyan pastors also assist in memorial services.
Once the monies are collected, the committee then takes over in the planning of either shipping the body home, travel if a loved one, anything they agree with. We do not have any established organization here that primarily helps with the financials, Kenyans just come together.
The bank that I know off, which I personally interviewed and is valid is KCB. Once you are a an account holder with KCB you have the option of purchasing some kind of insurance that would assist in shipping the body home.
She’s talking about KCB’s Travel Insurance Product for $12.00/year. If you travel to Kenya, you can get the insurance benefit for medical coverage, If you pass away abroad, the benefit is; your body will be shipped back home and an airline ticket for a family member to travel from Kenya to assist in the shipping of the body.
From these conversations, I think it would be a smart albeit unpleasant decision, to consider getting this kind of insurance. I would not want to burden my family with the task of shipping my body from Sweden or wherever else in the Diaspora I choose to live in. I think being single already stresses my mom enough:) Poor mom.
I guess Kenyan banks have got these kind of products for the Diaspora. I can’t comment on how good delivery of their services is ……I’ve had accounts in three banks in Kenya and I can’t recommend or not recommend KCB because it was not one of them.
My experience with these banks is an article for another day.
Sorry for gloom and doom on the blog for a few weeks now. Things will definitely improve…lakini the articles were necessary.