A sombre mood engulfed Kanyaa village in Mwingi West as villagers paid their last respects to 64 year-old, Mbithi Kitheka Mukunga on Thursday who was mistakenly buried by his kinsmen in 2011.
According to his younger brother Joseph Muasya, Kitheka mysteriously disappeared from their home in 1973 after an altercation with his wife never to be seen again.
During that time, the family made efforts to trace their brother in various parts of the country. They gave up hope after searching over three decades but in 2011, a group of three men came calling from Embu at the Kanyaa Location Chief’s office with sad news.
A man named Titus Kitheka Mbithi had been attacked by armed robbers in Embu, who unfortunately clobbered him to death.
His badly injured and disfigured body was lying at the Embu General Provincial Hospital as they awaited for next of kin to claim.
“The men had come searching for the family of the deceased. He used to tell them that his home area was in Mwingi West. Following clues from Mwingi town, their last stop was at Kanyaa,” said Boniface Kasonge Tumbo, Kanyaa Location Senior Chief.
Kasonge dispatched a messenger to the home of Kitheka, who was known to have disappeared from home without trace, to come to the office and meet the visitors.
“After receiving the sad news, as a family we left for Embu in the company of Kitheka’s friends to identify the body. My elder brother and sister positively identified him. We started burial plans immediately,” said Muasya.
The brother said that after a couple of days, burial plans were finalized and the Embu Medical Superintendent issued them with a burial permit and later interred Kitheka’s remains in 2011 in the family grave yard.
He never left behind a wife or children, his generation was lost in entirety and his genealogy, nobody was left to inherit his estate, it was subdivided among the surviving brothers.
In 2014, another shocker hit the family, the real Kitheka came calling, and his brothers were thrown into confusion.
“He tried to talk to us, greet us and smile at us but we were apprehensive. We were so afraid. His childhood friends came calling and finally he showed us his identity card. It was our long lost brother,” said Muasya as he fought back tears.
He told us that he was working as a casual labourer in Nyahururu. Since old age was slowly catching up with him, he decided to come back home after a 40 years’ sojourn.
Kitheka was not welcome, he was shunned by his own for fear that he would be cursed or might die should he interact with them according to Kamba mythology.
A renowned Kamba elder, Mungeli Kioko Muli lamented that the family refused to follow the community’s traditions and beliefs to remove any spell that might befall them after mistakenly burying their brother.
“In ensuring peace among the living, a goat was to be slaughtered at the grave of the mistaken man to appease his spirit in a bid to welcome Kitheka home,’ said Kioko.
However, following the turn of events, Kitheka found solace doing menial jobs to fend for himself until he was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis early 2018.
He moved to the family home in November this year and after four days, he died peacefully in his sleep as he battled his liver condition.
Kitheka, who had disappeared from home, was “buried twice” by his kinsmen at Kanyaa village in Mwingi West on Thursday November 15, 2018 putting a close to his mysterious life’s chapter.
By Yobesh Onwong’a