Hijacking funerals and turning them into political rallies where they parrot and insult each other without a care in the world is common among local politicians.
In most cases, it happens much to the chagrin of mourners and the bereaved family.
But because locals hold politicians in very high esteem, there is very little they can do to express their displeasure.
Such was, however, not the case the previous weekend at the burial ceremony of Boaz Oyoga in Siaya County.
So furious was the bereaved family that they demanded Sh50,000 “venue fee” from three politicians, a sitting MCA, MP and an MP aspirant, after they turned the solemn occasion into a political rally.
The area MCA, Aggrey Dimo, stirred the hornet’s nest with claims that the area MP, Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), had influenced ODM — a popular party in the region — to deny him party ticket ahead of the August polls.
“It is you mheshimiwa who made the party deny me the ticket to defend my seat. I will still win as an independent candidate whether you like it or not,” said the MCA, wagging a finger at the MP who gave him a blank stare.
Then the aspirant, John Ondiwo, was next on the microphone and he never shied away from reminding the mourners that they had sent a lame duck to represent them in Parliament.
He appealed to the voters to reject the MP in the coming elections if they wanted to realise development in the area.
The MP defended his tenure when he was given the microphone and accused the MCA of making him look like a non-performer in front of mourners.
“I did not influence your rigging but was busy fighting for a ticket on the same party so that I could also not be rigged out by a senior member of the party,” he said.
The MCA shouted from his seat words to the effect that the MP was misleading the mourners and made as if to snatch the microphone from him.
It is at this point that Nicholas Ochieng, son of the deceased, took the microphone from the MP and declared that he had been saddened by the trio for turning his father’s funeral mass into a political event.
“It’s an embarrassing situation that you (politicians) take ordinary citizens for granted. You have turned the burial of my father into a battle ground for your political supremacy which is very wrong,” he said.
He added: “You pay to use arena when you hold political engagements and since you have used my father’s mass as a platform to campaign and talk about your grievances, you have to pay.”
He then asked his sister to bring a bowl in which he ordered the politicians to hand in their “venue fee”.
“You pay Sh50,000 for a venue to hold a rally on average; place the same amount in this bowl now, we cannot allow you to use our father’s funeral as a campaign venue,” he insisted, amid applause from the mourners.
The politicians had to dig deep into their pockets to save face. It’s, however, not clear whether if what they paid amounted to the Sh50,000 that each was asked to pay.