Protocol My Foot

A few days ago I watched the  burial ceremonies of George Saitoti and Orwa Ojode. I had little choice but to watch them as all tv stations in my area covered nothing else for two consecutive days. I’m sure the press had a field day. What intrigued me the most was the conduct of our ‘honorable’ members of parliament as they bid farewell to two of their own.

I’m pretty sure that Saitoti and Ojode were not as clean and pristine as they were made out to be (they could have been, you never know. What I’m simply saying is that no human being is perfect) by the many distinguished guests who eulogized them using big and very passionate adjectives. However, We have a custom of sanctifying and embellishing the lives of the departed so that was expected. It was almost comical to watch people who never met eye to eye with the deceased government officials offer heartfelt condolences. I’m also sure that Saitoti and Ojode would never have been described the way they were at their funerals had they still been alive. That would have given them too much political capital. *Sigh* That’s politics for you.
Photo Credit:Myjoyonline
However, that is not what caught my full attention. I was particularly intrigued by the way Martha Karua conducted herself when she was invited to offer her condolences. The head of state was present and thus everyone started their speeches by acknowledging his presence before moving on to the family of the deceased. She didn’t do this.
She acknowledged the family members first before moving on to the president and other guests. And she did this at both funerals. It takes some courage to stand up and deliberately break protocol like that. But what she did is not wrong, at least not to me. Everyone was there for a burial ceremony. It figures then that the most important and involved people at the scene are the loved ones of the deceased. Not the president, not the queen (she wasn’t there but supposing she was) or anyone else.
Death is no respecter of persons. Before death all our titles are stripped away. All our degrees and wealth are discarded and we’re left just the same way we came into this world. Human. Naked. Equal.
Photo: File/Standard
It took a lot of guts to openly breach protocol like that. But she followed her conscience. And she did the right thing. Her speeches at both funerals were concise and short, no doubt commensurate to the level of interaction that she had had with the departed minister and assistant minister. She did not wax long talking big things about people she didn’t know that well. And that was fine. That was honest, better than all the long winded speeches and praises that even made the president urge the gathering and the nation at large (we were watching after all!) to practice what they were saying. if they all did then vision 2030 would be vision 2013!!
In the final analysis, I value Martha Karua more than most politicians who were present at the funerals. So protocol my foot!!

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