NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – The tributes flowed in causing his mother to lower her head, the silver hat on her head shielding her face, and hold a handkerchief up to her eyes and nose. The tears flowed freely causing her husband, Solicitor General Wanjuki Muchemi, to put his arm around her waist in a bid to comfort her.
In front of them, on a table covered in a white veil, stood two thick white candles and between them a picture of their late son Muchemi Wanjuki Muchemi. It is the same picture on the funeral programme on which are the words, ‘The Unfulfilled Promise.’
On Monday, their son was found lying on a sofa looking as though he was watching television. He wasn’t. He had received a fatal blow to the back of his head; the motive for the killing unknown.
Alarm bells went off after Muchemi was seen entering his family home on December 29 and hadn’t emerged by New Year’s Eve leading his father, who was on holiday with the rest of his family in Rwanda at the time, to ask his brother, Cyrus Wambugu, to check in on his son.
“I forgive the media,” his mother, Eva Muchemi, said into the microphone during her tribute, “There was meat on the shelf, dhania and a cutting board laid out and a juice strainer in the sink. He passed on trying to prepare a meal. I don’t think that is somebody who wants to die.”
Initial reports in the media had indicated Muchemi, or ‘Much’ as he was more fondly known, committed suicide. The 31 year old struggled with alcoholism, entering into and out of rehabilitation programmes.
“He didn’t deserve to go the way he did, he had such a kind heart,” Wanjuki standing next to his wife continued, “why would anyone want to cause such a big blow that he had no chance to live his life?”
‘Great cook’, ‘Excellent artist,’ were just some of the other attributes bestowed upon Much in addition to his having a kind heart, “he was an excellent cook. He’d spoil me with his culinary skills,” his mother shared proudly.
It also became evident, Much had quite the sense of humour, “Even with his struggle with alcohol he’d still make jokes about it. I’d tell him, ‘You’ve been drinking’ and he’d tilt his head and say, ‘but I’m home mom.’”
“He was so cheeky. He tested me to my limits,” his mother added.
“When he gave you a card he’d sign off as ‘Super Much’. The man had confidence,” his younger sister, Nyawira, said laughing.
“Growing up I was his shadow. You only had to look for one of us to get both of us.’
“I remember one of our first ‘missions’ when he was six and I was four. We wanted to get our hands on my little sister, Wambura’s, Cerelac. Much held the chair as I reached for it in one of the kitchen cabinets. We had a great childhood.”
Things were great up until he went off to university, “It was on September 28, 2000. I remember the date exactly because I was admitted as an advocate of the High Court on the same date in 1976,” Wanjuki gave testament.
“Kent in Canterbury is one of the loveliest campuses in the world but there are restaurants and bars in every hall. He was saved when I took him. I remember teasing him about not going to Carnivore.”
Muchemi was admitted to the University of Kent to pursue a Law degree. In his final semester of his third year, Muchemi did not sit for his final papers. He was diagnosed as being depressed.
“He’d send me an email every week for the first two years then they started getting shorter, fewer and far between but I never stopped loving my son.”
“I remember throwing him a birthday party in 2006 for family and close friends. It was to begin at seven in the evening but he turned up when we were getting ready for bed having had one or two.” He missed the family flight to Rwanda.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who was one of many honchos who attended the requiem mass, expressed admiration for the family’s candour, “I had a relative who died of AIDS, we said it was Malaria.”
“My son is gone. I had big plans and would have preferred to have invited you for a wedding,” Wanjuki lamented.
Muchemi Jr will be buried Saturday at his family home in Nyeri.