When a group of high-ranking Gikuyu Council of Elders visited the ailing Mzee Joseph Kamaru at his Thome Estate home in Nairobi on Saturday, scarcely did they know the Gikuyu music legend was living his last moments.
The leaders had one mission: To deliver one goat (thenge ya thubu) and a ram (called ngoima) to Mzee Kamaru as best wishes for his recovery.
According to those who attended the small exclusive ceremony, Kamaru was delighted to see the elders, some who he had known for decades.
One of the attendees was the patron of Kiama kia ma (council of truth) Captain Kung’u, who had known Kamaru for more than 50 years.
"Mzee Kamaru was very weak. He could not walk and hardly said anything during our visit. But he was delighted to see us," Captain Kung’u said.
The animals were slaughtered and their meat boiled in accordance with Gikuyu traditions. The artist was fed and even drank the soup. This, the elders said, is an old practice done for sick people.
Touched by the suffering of the legendary musician, the elders even registered an account, hoping to fundraise for his family’s upkeep, seeing as the president had catered for his medical bills.
"We were then to see Mzee again on Wednesday after his readmission in hospital. But that is the same night he died," Wasiri Mutiga toldSaturday Nation.
Kamaru has been ailing since early last year, and suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which has seen him on and off hospital, and occasionally bedridden.
His last live performance was in December 2016 at Sportsview restaurant in Kasarani.
Mzee Kamaru was due to celebrate his 80th birthday in a few months’ time, and had wanted it planned complete with the exact flair that punctuated his 70th birthday ceremony in 2009.
"While lying in a hospital bed in June, he had asked me to start making plans for the birthday ceremony. We had started putting measures in place to honour his desire, but sadly he did not live to see his great day," Mr Mutiga toldSaturday Nation.
In spite of his age, Kamaru loved to push his boundaries, and one of his favourite pastimes was swimming, which he loved.
According to Mr Mutiga, Kamaru regularly visited hotels in Kasarani and Roasters for swimming sessions.
"We resolved to have him taken back to hospital on Monday this week to continue with his treatment. While he showed signs of weakness, it did not occur to us that he was living his last moments," Mutiga narrated.