NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – They marched into the Central Business District, from Uhuru Park, in their hundreds mourning and chanting corrupted gospel songs against the 221 former Members of the 10th Parliament, accusing them of greed and corruption in a ceremony never witnessed before.
As they snaked through Kenyatta, Moi and Harambee Avenues, with 221 mock coffins in tow, the dirges grew louder as bemused city residents watched in awe.
Some would occasionally scream and blow whistles; others would drag the caskets on the CBD tarmac leaving behind a white trail in the mock interment ceremony that has already captured global headlines.
And when it was all over, the 221 coffins lay in ashes right outside Parliament buildings, where the demonstrators torched them to signify cremation following the death of impunity of the August House that stood accused in the court of public opinion.
“We need a change and so we decided to burn these 221 caskets. Kenyans have had enough and we are not going to take any more of their greed,” said Christine Ombasa, one of the demonstrators.
“If you are coming to Parliament, you are coming to work not award yourself huge amounts of money,” she stressed.
Before the entourage made its way into the CBD a disdainful funeral service was held.
A terrifying ‘bishop’ with a coal black mask and an equally dark robe took to the podium and a jeering prayer was made.
“We come before you to bury the ill manners of our leaders. They asked for a State funeral and we thought it fit to give them their heart’s desires,” jeered the bishop.
“We also ask you to give them diplomatic passports so that they can use them as they go into the afterlife,” he added.
As business in the CBD came to a standstill curious onlookers stuck their heads through bus windows flashing their phones to take photos. Others took to their office windows to catch a glimpse of the action.
Another group decided to join in the frenzy but demanded to know why there were 221 coffins yet Parliament had 222 members.
“The law prohibits us from anticipating the death of the Head of State,” was the simple answer from the organisers.
Some of those who spoke to Capital FM News lauded the efforts of the demonstrators saying the country needed reformed leaders in the forthcoming March 4 General Elections.
They were particularly incensed by a bid by former MPs to award themselves a Sh9.3 million send off package, which was rejected by President Mwai Kibaki.
“This is something that would never have happened in the previous regime and it is great that such young Kenyans are aware of the issues facing their country. They should keep it up,” said John Muchene, a taxi driver.
Journalists keenly followed them and cameramen had to run ahead to get the best shots. Some even climbed on the blue rails put up by the council to guard the flower beds in the CBD, just to get a better angle.
Others found themselves singing along to the spurious songs sung by the demonstrators as patriotic fervour got the better of them.
And just before 2 pm the brouhaha came to an end leaving parliamentary and council staff with the responsibility of cleaning up the mess.
It will make interesting viewing for the departed members of the same house when they sit back and watch what some of their constituents think of their five year legacy.