Last stop for the rich: Why Lee Funeral Home is popular among Kenya’s elite

Lee Funeral home [Photo: Courtesy]

These past few days weeks have been eerie. First was the news of Baringo South Member of Parliament Grace Kipchoim passing on after a battle with cancer.

Then, like a plucked leaf, the second liberation hero Kenneth Matiba was gone. The two successive deaths got me wondering about life.

How transient! How fleeting! A verse from the Bible in Job 14:5 came to mind: A person’s days are determined; You (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

Lee Funeral Home has literally hosted bodies of Kenya’s powerful and elite class over the years whenever they pass on.

The high-end funeral home has played host to the country’s most powerful sons and daughters. It is the last stop for rich and influential Kenyans

You see, the wealthy tend to confine themselves to exclusive clubs. Lee would easily be considered a continuum of that exclusivity even in death, for only the haves keep their beloved in that high-end parlor.

Power, wealth, history and influence all converge at Lee whenever death knocks. I have thought to myself what it would be like if Lee Funeral Home could speak.

Since 1984, the premier funeral home has held the mighty and great in its eldritch hug as they bade the world goodbye.

Named after its founder and Director John Lee, this morgue has witnessed the wealthiest leave behind multi-million bank accounts; the powerful lie powerless in death; the influential unable to utter a word; and the proud humbled by the frozen silence of lifelessness.

Silent witness

Such is death. It is so final! It casually stomps in through our doors without warning. It doesn’t knock and doesn’t regard status.

Death takes a seat among the wealthy and the lowly as it deems fit. It plucks our best and worst alike. One of these fine days though, I want to speak to John Lee, the proprietor of the funeral parlor.

I want him to narrate to me the experience of my humorous friend Gerald Otieno Kajwang’ lying in death unable to cheer us with his baritone.

I want him to narrate just how it felt to have Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s wisdom, Kijana Wamalwa’s eloquence, Hezekiah Oyugi’s power, JJ Kamotho’s orature, Wangari Maathai’s passion, Kipkalya Kones’ charisma, Martin Shikuku’s wit, Lucy Kibaki’s egotism, and Sen Mutula Kilonzo’s intelligence.


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