President Uhuru Kenyatta (Front Row, left and Opposition leader Ry Hon Raila Odinga (4th right) at the burial of former Nairobi City Mayor Samuel Mbugua. (PHOTO: State House)
BY SIMIYU SIMIYU
I watched with amazement when bitter rivals President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga shared a podium yesterday during the burial ceremony of former Nairobi Women Representative Rachael Sebesh’s father in Kiambu.
It showed that albeit political differences, leaders can still come together during such trying moments.
But when I was just about to ask myself if we need more funerals in our country to bring our leaders together, I realized there’re a number of people who smile behind the curtains whenever there are burial functions.
Here is the menu.
10. Casket makers
They wake up every day to build the nation just like other citizens. They
work hard and pay tax. Being carpenters themselves, they are trained in wood work art and this is how they ended up in their respective workshops.
But what puts food on their tables? They depend on selling coffins to earn a living.
In 2013, residents of Kibos area in Kisumu City, staged a demonstration
against the selling of coffins at the gate of Nyanza Provincial Hospital.
“You take a patient to the hospital and what welcomes you is coffins lined
around the main entrance of the hospital.” One woman appearing in her early thirties was captured on cameras as saying.
“We are tired of killing our
patients even before they get treatment. We want these coffins removed from the hospital gate immediately.”
The residents were reacting to a trend where carpenters display their
already-made coffins at the entrance of the hospital for quick marketing
and access so that when your patient passes on, you just return to the
gate and acquire the product.
“The more people die, the more business blossoms.” One carpenter told this writer.
9. Hearse providers
An effective transport option for funeral events, hearse companies charge between Ksh 20,000 to 800,000 depending on the distance of travel and the number of days their services shall be applied. This kind of business is growing rapidly, apparently due to the increasing mortality rate.
Most of these companies are run by private hospitals.
8. Print publishers
Newspapers get massive revenue from their obituary pages. An average advert in a local daily costs around Ksh 30 per word, meaning families may pay up to Ksh 20,000 per advert depending on the number of words therein.
When you look at the transition pages, there are over 60 families displaying their departed ones every day. You can imagine how publishers rip from funeral announcements.
Other print publishers include magazine designers and photocopiers. A lot of families rely on their services to publish funeral programs for them. In return, the businesses conceive reasonable income.
7. Tents and chair providers
Also a ballooning business, it has majorly erased the days when school
Headteachers used to order students to carry desks and chairs to funeral
venues as a sign of communal work and support.
Though it still happens in villages, nowadays, families hire
tents and chairs for big events – funerals included.
Tents are charged per day ranging from Ksh 1,500 to 200,000 depending on seat capacity.
On the other hand, business owners charge between Ksh 20 to Ksh 300 per chair on a single day.
6. Outside caterers
Gone are the days when friends and relatives would cook for the mourners. Funeral organizers are going for outside catering service providers.
Outside catering is easy and efficient
to families basing on the complexity of activities that the grieved
families are involved in. Cooking, feeding and washing utensils lies with these providers. But do their services come cheap?
5. Transport operators
During funeral events, transport operators within the locality enjoy the most, hiking fare to-and-from the venues. Here, mourners travel from all corners of the world throughout.
From helicopter companies to Taxi cars and motorbikes, the income to these operators is usually awesome.
4. Public address companies
Due to large numbers of mourners, these services are the most sort for
entertainment and audibility. Funeral organisers spend as much as Ksh50,000 per day during these trying moments.
In weddings and other co-opate events, yes, but in funerals, I will be
lying by saying they are hired to cover events. The majority I have ever seen always invite themselves.
They take photos of you when you are shedding tears. After recovering from the deep emotions, they tap your shoulder to show you an already printed photo they took without your knowledge.
Ulitokea smaaart, (you look smart). They flatter at you in a tone inspiring you to pay for their ‘services’.
They always go ahead to display all the photos at strategic locations so
that as you leave the venue, it is easy to spot ‘yourself’ displayed
‘beautifully’ on their make-shift noticeboard.
Sincerely speaking, photographers usually make a good kill with their creativity at the funeral functions.
2. Newspaper vendors
Ooh my goodness! The smile on their faces while distributing those copies
across the aisle is just amazing. They come loaded with loose money to
avoid running back to a nearest supermarket looking for change.
These are the days they make the most sales.
Politicians and co-opate societies have one thing in common: they love where masses of people converge in order to market their brands.
Kenyan politicians for example, find funeral events the best place to show their phillianthropic characters by donating funds to help the grieved families.
But that does not come free. They will take advantage of this to grab the microphone and attack their rivals with terrible statements, not bothering the feelings of the mourning families.
Some politicians have even ended up fighting in front of the mourners.
If you thought funeral functions bring sombre moods to everyone, you now
know the people who smile behind the curtains.