NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – Hoes exchanged hands as red soil was shovelled into the six foot deep hole into which 17-year-old Ian Kamau was lowered; the soil making a thud when it came into contact with his white coffin.
It had been a week since he died of smoke inhalation at the Stephjoy Boys Christian Boarding School; Ian being the last, of the three boys who died from an arson attack on their dormitory, to be laid to rest.
A week since his mother sat in a saloon car and questioned why God had allowed her only son to die.
His grandfather Macharia Kamau took solace in the heroism he believed his grandson demonstrated in his final hours.
“He died just a few steps away from the exit; after helping other boys get out. But the smoke got to him before he could make it out himself.”
Kamau was an angry man. Standing a few feet from where his grandson was lowered to rest a few minutes earlier, the 59-year-old told Capital FM News that his grandson shouldn’t have had to be a hero in the first place.
“Had I known that his mother transferred him there (Stephjoy) I would have refused. His aunt was there (Stephjoy Girls) five years ago and she hated it. I should have listened to her. They have a poor record. I want them investigated.”
It was a sentiment he’d kept to himself earlier as the school’s administration described his grandson, who wanted to be a pilot, as a hard worker.
Also present at the funeral ceremony were students from Stephjoy, clad in their home clothes, they echoed that Ian was a diligent student, “we were meant to be asleep from 9.30 but he stayed up for another hour to read.
Ian, another of his former school mates testified, was a devout Christian. “We prayed before we went to sleep.”
But even during the ceremony, the anger was evident. Karege sub-location Assistant Chief James Kamau was livid at the breed of students who thought it fit to ventilate their frustrations through arson. “The mock examinations are no excuse. Who among us here who’s been through high school didn’t sit their mocks?” he posed.
Bishop Morris Mwarande of Redeemed Gospel Church, who presided over the ceremony, was angry at a society, he felt, had lost its way; his solution, a return of corporal punishment.
“The Bible clearly stipulates that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Even former Presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki were beaten by their parents and teachers when they fell short.”
“Parents of today,” he continued to admonish, had also lost their way.