The body of the late archbishop Boniface Lele is
taken inside the tomb at Holy Ghost Cathedral in
this picture taken 22 April 2014. Photo/Laban Walloga

By Gabriel Dolan

As anticipated, Mombasa city came to a standstill on Tuesday as thousands came to say farewell to
retired Archbishop Boniface Lele.

The humble, generous, gentle soul will be remembered every time many of us pick up a Sh50 note for that was all that remained in his wallet to
bury him.

But his outstanding kindness and warmth had touched so many people that they ensured he got a
fitting send off.

As expected the political class came in large numbers but to their surprise they were not given
the opportunity to address the mourners.

Instead, Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu read President Kenyatta’s message of condolence, and Mombasa Deputy Governor Hazel Katana spoke briefly on behalf of the County Government.

The opposition figures, including Kalonzo Musyoka,Moses Wetangula and Anyang’ Nyong’o were
recognised but not given the podium.

Otherwise, it was a solemn, dignified, religious occasion where sorrow and grief blended with
gratitude and Christian hope all in line with the mood of the Easter season.

Thousands walked the 2km route to the burial ground while showing respect and dignity right to the final blessing.


Perhaps, the beauty and solemnity of the occasion was also because politicians were kept at bay,
acknowledged and appreciated for condoling with the Catholic family, but not given the opportunity
to turn a religious ceremony into a political rally.

It grieves many families and faiths when politicians turn funerals into rallies, and trivialise a grave and
painful occasion.

Frankly speaking, the majority of our politicians show appalling bad manners and decorum on such

They generally arrive late, often just as the deceased is about to be laid to rest.

They would want us to believe that lateness indicates a busy schedule, but their timing is usually synchronised with the local TV and newspaper stringers who
escort them from nearby hotels.

They march to the front seats in expectation of being given the most comfortable ones even displacing grieving family members while seeming not to care that they are disrupting the religious

For most politicians, funerals are not about condolences or the one laid to rest but just a free forum to attack opponents and to remind voters
what goodies you have in store for them.

Their behaviour and attitude frequently border on the

Of course, the political class claim they have a right to ‘greet their people’ anywhere but they are most
rarely found where they are paid to represent their voters’ interests: Parliament, Senate and Local

In Mombasa, opposition politicians complained when not offered an opportunity to address the mourners and later proceeded to chastise the
Catholic Church for not speaking out about injustice.


They failed to acknowledge that while the Church must be the conscience of society, the primary role of Cord as an opposition unit is to expose the rot,offer alternative leadership and to be the watchdog
in the decision making Houses.

They should not blame the Church for their dismal performance in this respect in the past year.

The time is ripe to rescue sacred, religious occasions from the political class and Mombasa Diocese showed us the way to do that.


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