Fans of Ohangla musician Maureen Achieng, popularly known as Lady Maureen, turned out in their thousands to give her a befitting send-off at her parents’ home in Migori County Saturday.
They defied all Ministry of Health directives on Covid-19 safety.
Kopanga village in Suna West came alive as the musicians’ fans, led by Gor Mahia FC fans, took over the funeral, overwhelming police as they led the huge crowd in an enthralling funeral match along the Migori-Masara highway to the musician’s parents’ home.
Some of the mourners had travelled from as far as Nairobi and started arriving on Friday when the body was scheduled to be picked from Ojele Memorial Hospital for an overnight stay at her parents’ home before yesterday’s burial.
The plan, however, failed, after authorities refused to release the body at the last minute on Friday, citing security and health safety concerns.
This followed the chaotic scenes that had been witnessed at the burial of another popular musician - Bernard Onyango, popularly known as Abenny Jachiga - who was buried at night in Kisumu County a month ago.
Lady Maureen’s fans and fellow musicians rose up early to accompany her body to her final resting place at a piece of land that her family acquired just next to her parents’ home.
A small ‘akumba’ - a traditional single mud-walled room had hurriedly been put up for her the night before to signify a homestead for the 36-year-old musician who died on July 11 after ailing for a long time.
The funeral was attended by more than 150 ohangla and benga musicians, among them popular benga artiste Dolla Kabary and ohangla musician Evance Ochieng, alias Prince Inda. They arrived in buses and private vehicles on Friday evening.
Gor Mahia FC fans also arrived in style on Friday to pay their last respects to one of the club’s biggest fans who churned out special tunes in praise of legends, players and the club.
In a typical Luo style when sending off a famous individual, mourners donning green Gor Mahia FC football jerseys blew vuvuzelas, waved twigs, clubs and drums, wailed, honked motorcycle and vehicle horns, sung dirges and danced as they mourned through the streets of Migori as they headed to her home in Suna West.
Despite prior arrangements for tight security at the burial, police watched helplessly, unable to control the swarming crowd of mourners who completely disregarded social distancing rules and the requirement to wear face masks.
A few minutes past midday, the musician was laid to rest with the Gor Mahia fans surrounding the grave.
Jaro Soja, a diehard fan of Gor Mahia, said they went to bury their hero since her songs kept the spirit of the football team alive.
Also present was Lady Maureen’s mother as well as the clergy, who kept the sermon short.
Additional Reporting by Ian Byron