Nairobi, August 22 – Tuesday, August 22 marked 39 years since the passing of Kenya’s founding father- Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
At his death in 1978, his son who is not the sitting president was 18. Young, free and in college.
When Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died in ,his body was immediately put in a locally made coffin packed with dry ice.
To minimise the risk of the dry ice touching his exposed skin ,he was covered in a foil.
This was to buy time and preserve it as the Government awaited the arrival from London of a specially made casket and an embalmer who had been firmly instructed to take the first flight to Nairobi.
These funeral plans started way back in 1968 after Mzee suffered a heart attack .Although he recovered and continued to discharge his duties as president,a close knit group of government officials comprised of McKenzie, Njonjo , Moi , Mungai and Colonel Anderson the
Chief of Staff at Defence Headquarters Nairobi, still went ahead with plans for his future funeral.
Both the casket and the depositum plate were made in advance when Mzee was still alive and hidden in London.
A firm which was contracted to design the depositum plate had been instructed to partially engrave it and leave out date of death which was to be added on the day of the president’s death.
It was also agreed that a protective vault be inserted in his grave to protect the casket from rain seepage ,termites and other underground conditions and also for future display after burial
The funeral director in London was given the option of choosing between an American vault similar to the one used in John F Kennedy’s burial or a fiberglass vault used in European countries.
After the selection and purchase of a suitable vault ,it was to be packed in a crate disguised as spare parts by being marked “M.T SPARES ” and then sent to Kenya Army barracks Kahawa where it would be kept until Mzee’s death.
Mzee eventually died in August 1978 ,the Queen was represented by prince Charles while America sent its first biggest delegation to Africa for the funeral.