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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Lee Funeral home prices:Even middle class Kenyans cannot afford this

Currently, autopsy costs range between Shs10,000 and Shs15,000 (when conducted at private funeral homes) and between Shs8,000 and Shs10,000 at government hospital mortuaries. Private funeral homes, like Nairobi's Lee Funeral Services, charge about Shs1,500 in storage costs per day, plus Shs10,000 for embalming. Funeral costs range between Shs50,000 and Shs500,000, sometimes more - depending on where the person died.
Among many African peoples, it is taboo for one to be buried away from home - that is, away from the village of his forefathers or clan - even if he never lived there. This is to ensure that the person's spirit rested in peace among his own, otherwise it was believed that the person's spirit would come back to haunt those who buried him/her away from home. Among the Luo, for instance, the deceased is considered to be only dead physically. Their spirit is believed to be alive within the body. For this reason, even if a person dies in the United States, the body is often flown home for burial. Transporting a body from Kennedy Airport in the United States to Kenya costs about US$8 per kg. Add to this the special handling and road transport costs and this comes to about Shs200,000.
Fortunately, with the escalating costs of living and dying, common sense is prevailing and many are requesting in their wills and by word of mouth to be buried at the nearest cemetery.
In Christian burials, more often than not, the dead are usually dressed in new clothes. In the case of a man, he will have a new suit, shirt, tie, sock and shoes. Women who are persons of means will usually be buried with some of their favourite jewellery. The outfits will range from wedding dresses to suits and ordinary clothes.
Just like during weddings, funerals are the only other occasion where relatives turn up en masse. They travel for thousands of miles, hire vehicles and on some occasions wear uniform clothing or similar headscarves (women) that will identify them as members of the dead person's family. Add the other funeral expenses, like transport of the body and pre-burial festivities, and a funeral will rival a wedding in costs.
Coffin designs vary; while some may be as cheap as Shs1,000, others are quite expensive. At Montezuma Hearse Services, charges range between Shs16,000 -Shs90,000 a coffin. For those who can afford it, companies offering funeral services will also provide transport and other related services.
Perhaps the cheapest burial is the Muslim burial, where the body is wrapped in an inexpensive cloth or mat. Even if the person has died far from home, fellow Muslims will bury him before sunset or within 12 hours. Besides costs for official documents like death permits, an average Muslim burial would hardly cost Shs5,000.
A method of disposing of the dead now gaining popularity is cremation. Ancient Greeks and Romans, practised cremation where the body was placed in a container like a coffin which was then placed in a special oven in a crematorium. The body, together with the container, was left to burn for up to four hours. The remaining bones were then crushed into powder, which was stored in a container and given to relatives. Some relatives choose to keep the ashes while others buried them in a cemetery or scattered the ashes in a selected place. Some placed the ashes in a special vault called a 'colombarium'.

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