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BY CORRESPONDENT,KISUMU,12TH JUNE,2020-Gun shots, teargas and mammoth crowds throwing caution to the wind, characterised the dramatic send-off of ohangla musician Bernard Onyango Obonyo popularly known as Abenny Jachiga.
Kadiju village witnessed chaotic scenes that forced the overpowered police officers numbering more than 30 to flee the scene, moments after the enraged mourners removed the body from the grave after police lowered it for burial.
After removing the casket from the grave, they walked with it round the village before taking it to the nearest mortuary for preservation. They contravened social distance rule and very few had masks on.
That is just how much they loved the young musician known for his hit song ‘Mano Kasinde’ (That is her cousin), which speaks about how unfaithful women lie about their lovers describing them as their cousins.
He is also famed for his other songs ‘Penzi ni kama yai’ (Love is like an egg) and ‘Maraga odagi’ (Maraga declines) which he released after the 2017 landmark ruling by Chief Justice David Maraga nullifying the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The mourners however sealed off the grave demanding that the burial be postponed to a later date, to give them time to give the musician what they termed a befitting burial.
This happened as the local church leaders, widow and family watched in awe and disbelief as strangers took over the burial ceremony
According to the new set guidelines by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o in bid to fight the spread of Covid-19, all bodies from within the county shall be removed from mortuaries not later than 9.30 am and buried within six hours.
The governor also directed that all deaths within the county shall be either buried or cremated within 48 hours of such deaths.
But in a true fashioned Luo burial celebration, children, young men and women as well as the aged poured out in the streets, to pay their last respects, wailing and the teargas canisters hurled at them only added to the much needed tears to express their love for the 33-year-old musician.
The drama had started on Thursday evening when mourners stormed Port Florence Hospital demanding to view the body but were repulsed by police.
They even brought down a section of the perimeter wall of the facility’s mortuary in an attempt to gain entry after all the gates were shut.
This appeared only to be a dress rehearsal for what was to be witnessed Friday after word went round that the musician’s remains were to be laid to rest in the morning.
By 6.30am the mourners had camped outside Port Florence and the cortege left the facility at 8am heavily guarded by two Police Land Cruisers with a dozen anti-riot officers.
To evade crowds that were eagerly waiting to view the body, police used a different route to Chiga, the village of the musician. At his home, there was a standoff.
“We want to view the body of our hero, he cannot be buried quickly like an animal,” said Mr Vincent Akuota, a mourner.
The locals then put the casket on top of a tuk tuk and carried it on their shoulders to a field next to Kadiju Primary School for further viewing.
Mr Austin Omondi, his younger brother who spoke to the Nation, said the musician complained of severe chest pains, difficulty in breathing, vomiting blood, severe abdominal pains and rashes on the face and chest.
A medical report from one of the hospitals where he sought treatment indicates he had pneumonia and chicken pox. He died at St Jairus Hospital, Kisumu on Thursday dawn.
By the time of going to press, there were unconfirmed reports that police were regrouping to ensure the body was buried last night.