, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 3- Former defence minister and Kiambaa MP James Njenga Karume was on Saturday laid to rest at his Cianda home in Kiambu in an emotional ceremony attended by President Mwai Kibaki.
President Mwai Kibaki led a government delegation to the burial of his former cabinet minister and political ally.
It was the second time in a week that the president led a government delegation to a burial; having attended the burial of the former Minister for Environment John Michuki on Monday.
Security was tight with police frisking every entrant to the venue, and further led everyone to their sitting place.
Thousands of mourners lined up in the streets of Kiambu to await the passage of the body of their formers MP early Saturday morning and later the arrival of the Head of State.
Karume’s remains were carried in a casket with shades of black and gold colouring, a resounding tribute symbolic of his rise from a charcoal burner to multi-million investments.
The service took just over six hours with prayers from the church and eulogies from family friends and government officials.
President Kibaki eulogised the late minister as a man who stood for unity in all his workings both as private citizen and as a public servant.
Kibaki urged the nation to remain united in tribute to the late former defence minister.
“Let us be friends and emulate him, he wanted people to be friends wherever he was,” urged the president who said that the government was also engaged in efforts to foster unity among Kenyans.
Kibaki also called for unity among the members of the family of the wealthy late businessman.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga described the man who is said to have been his preferred point man in central Kenya as a Kenyan who never forgot where he came from despite his successes in business.
He said that his rise from humble beginnings was a manifestation of the fact of courage in his character.
He termed the late Karume as a brave patriot who had a heart for the people, a person who had love for the country and its unity.
“He did not want tribalism and segregation and used GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association) to unite all Kenyans,” said the PM assuring that Internally Displaced Persons will be resettled.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka also eulogised the man he said was a hard worker who sought to improve the lives of Kenyans by creating employment opportunities.
“We lost a great leader who used to bring us together,” said Transport Minister Amos Kimunya who spoke on behalf his former cabinet colleagues.
Former president Daniel Moi challenged Kenyan leaders to help make the country a better place than they found it as Karume did saying that the late former minister always consulted in his work.
Karume’s widow Grace Njoki in a tribute read on her behalf described him as a mentor and friend and a generous man.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta described the late Karume as a hero who stood for justice, loved people and who was generous.
“We have lost a leader who not only excelled in his personal life but also cared for the well being of the common man,” he said adding that government should expedite the process of resettling the internally displaced people of the 2007 post election violence.
His burial was preceded by the withdrawal of a case in which a 45-year-old man who claims to be a son of the late Karume who had sought a court orders to stop the burial.
Edwin Thuo wanted Karume’s funeral put on hold until extraction of DNA material is done for use in two cases that are pending in court.
Karume passed on at the Karen hospital last Friday where he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer at the age of 83 years.