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El-Adde major’s kin finally get body for burial

Monday April 4 2016

Ms Elizabeth Obwoge, the mother of KDF soldier Geoffrey Obwoge who died in El-Adde, Somalia, two months ago. The body was identified two weeks ago. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ms Elizabeth Obwoge, the mother of KDF soldier Geoffrey Obwoge who died in El-Adde, Somalia, two months ago. The body was identified two weeks ago. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

 AGGREY OMBOKI
By AGGREY OMBOKI
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For several months, hundreds of people have been arriving in Misesi Village, Kisii County, to pay tribute to a fallen soldier.

Maj Geoffrey Obwoge was the commander of the Kenya Defence Forces unit that was attacked by Al-Shaabab insurgents in El-Adde on January 15.

The raid begun with a suicide car bomb at the gate of the base after which dozens of gunmen followed, shooting as they went on a killing orgy.

The Kenyan military has, however, remained tight-lipped regarding the number of fatalities in the attack, even as burials of a number of servicemen goes on in various parts of the country.

In Kisii, family members said Maj Obwoge’s body would be buried on Wednesday in Ogembo Township.

When the Nation visited the area, burial plans were going on as family and villagers said they had come to terms with the soldier’s death.

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The soldier’s mother Elizabeth could not hold back tears. “Now that my son’s remains have been found, there is nothing else to do except plan his burial,” she said.

The soldier’s wife, Rhoda, was in grief when the Nation contacted her in Eldoret.

LONG AND ANXIOUS WAIT

Rhoda said she learnt of her husband’s fate more than two weeks ago from the Department of Defence.

“You are requested to report to the Forces Memorial Hospital as soon as possible. We have some information for your family,” the caller told her before suddenly hanging up.

Similar calls were made to the soldier’s close relatives. They were only informed of his death upon arrival in Nairobi. 

The soldier had two daughters; Melissa, 4 and six-month-old Joy.

“We travelled to Nairobi hoping and praying that he had finally been found alive. However, I had a nagging thought that he might be dead’,” Elizabeth said. 

Rhoda said theirs had been a long and anxious wait.

“We had been to the city on many occasions and it was disappointment on all occasions,” she told the Nation after the body was identified.

“On previous visits, officers informed us that his body was not among those brought from El-Adde so we crossed our fingers,” the soldier’s brother Zebedeo said.

Details of how the body was recovered remain sketchy.

Rhoda described the soldier as a loving husband and doting father.

“While in Somalia, he would call every day to inquire about his daughters and other family members. I began to worry when he took days to call,” she said.

She said death had dealt her a blow too painful to bear.

Elizabeth described her son as polite, obedient and hardworking.

“Death can find us any time and anywhere. My son died defending the country. All I want is to bury him and leave the rest to God,” she said.

She thanked the government for bringing the soldier’s remains home.

“I am grateful to KDF for giving us his remains so that we can give him a proper send–off. I don’t blame anyone for what happened,” she said.

She appealed to the government to consider giving her other son a chance to serve in the military.