Alphonse Okoth recounts the profound shock that coursed through him upon discovering he had been officially declared deceased and subsequently laid to rest in July. The 40-year-old man, a resident of Kaloleni Estate in Nakuru town, had departed his home following a marital discord, seeking a fresh start in Nairobi by establishing a secondhand clothing business.
Maintaining a deliberate distance from his family, Okoth led a solitary existence in the bustling city. After seven months, a desire to check on his wife led him back to Kaloleni, only to be met with the startling revelation that he had been interred months prior. His family explained that, due to an eerie resemblance in footprints, they had mistakenly buried the wrong remains, believing them to be Okoth’s. Despite their fervent efforts to reclaim his true body, it had been laid to rest in Ugenya, Siaya County.
Yet, three months later, Okoth returned to Kaloleni, evoking bewilderment and disbelief among his friends and kin. Citing deeply ingrained cultural beliefs and practices, Okoth maintains that he cannot reunite with his family until the misplaced remains are retrieved and the essential purification ceremonies, including the ritualistic slaughter of a sheep, are conducted. He is resolute in ensuring that the rightful body finds its resting place.
This grave misunderstanding has exacted a heavy toll on Okoth’s life. Those who once offered their condolences and financial support for the funeral expenses now question his veracity, demanding restitution amid fears of extortion. Tom Ochieng, a confidant of Okoth, has stood by him steadfastly throughout this surreal ordeal. Initially tasked with organizing the funeral, Ochieng was incredulous upon hearing of Okoth’s reappearance in Nairobi. Only upon hearing Okoth’s voice on a call did he fully accept the astonishing turn of events.
Ochieng underscores the urgency of carrying out the proper rites to rectify this egregious mistake and afford Okoth the chance to return to a semblance of normalcy with his family. He asserts that a grievous error was made in identifying the body, resulting in the burial of the wrong individual.
As the community grapples with this unprecedented case, their focus remains on rectification in accordance with cultural norms, allowing Okoth the opportunity to mend ties with his family, and ultimately, consigning this perplexing episode to the annals of the past.