In a Facebook page, Mugo gives a personal story of his time at Chiromo Mortuary. He reveals how he used to exploit ignorance and superstitions to milk money from bereaved relatives from certain tribes.
This is quite a shocker. Here’s the post.
Kikuyus in particular bore the blunt of ethnic profiling and discrimination. The relatives of the bodies of Kikuyus used to be so mean; They could not part with a ten cents for services offered other than the official mortuary fees. None of us wanted to deal with Kikuyu bodies; Kikuyus are neither fearful nor superstitious about death and so they don’t spend on dead bodies. Luos and Luhyas are particularly superstitious; They wanted to receive first class service; They readily parted with handouts so that their bodies would be given “Special Preservation” in “special cabinets”.
This was nothing but a money-making gimmick; As soon as the superstitious relatives left the mortuary precincts, ‘their’ body was dragged alongside others and piled on top of others awaiting preservative formalin treatment. In addition Luo and Luhya relatives used to request for additional special services and favors for which they paid handsomely. It was damn lucrative handling Luo or Luhya bodies irrespective of whether they came from affluent or poor families. The body of a very poor Luo previously living in Kibera slums could fetch tens of thousands in viewing fees only, the official mortuary fees aside.
The arrival of a Luo or Luhya body was met with some excitement as it was a source of cash. For instance, no female body could be buried with braided hair or with a weave. The relatives feared the bodies and could not touch them or come near them and so we took maximum advantage of their ignorance and superstition. The relatives had to pay us to do the job of either shaving, unbraiding or removing a weave.
A ‘shave’ on such a body could fetch between Ksh. 3000.00 and 20,000.00 or even more mostly depending on your negotiation skills. Similarly the arrival of the dead body of a pregnant Luo or Luhya woman signaled the lining of our pockets with bank notes; It was a strict taboo among the two communities to burry such a body with the foetus inside the uterus of the dead woman. The baby(foetus) would have to be removed. That was a clean source of cash as the office had no provisions for such provisions and the mortuary office referred the relatives back to us. The removal of a dead foetus from a woman’s body was typically referred to as a CS, an abbreviation for cesarean section. A CS could fetch between Ksh 10,000.00 and Ksh 30,000.00 again depending on how convincing you were.
You can rest assured I was an expert at that… I remember one fine Saturday when I pocketed over 80,000.00 from a ‘CS’ and three ‘shaves’