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Cremation Process Kenya

The Kenyan matangas (funerals) take the fashion of celebrations aimed at honoring the deceased. They’ll involve days of gathering, deep tradition, and eccentric after-life rites that make us believe that the departed soul isn’t…. well, actually dead.

This explains why most Kenyans will remain uncomfortable any moment the word cremation is mentioned when organizing for a deceased’s sendoff. In fact, many communities in Kenya will treat it as a great taboo.

Nonetheless, the rise of atheism, coupled with the increasing burial costs has presented cremation as an alternative to the conventional burial ceremonies in Kenya. Please read on to see what the cremation process in Kenya involves.

What is cremation?

Cremation in Kenya is traditionally recognized as a sendoff rite for Hindus. The process involves exposing a dead body to open flames to reduce it into its basic elements. Basically, cremation uses intense heat and evaporation to reduce the deceased’s body into the desired ashes.

Normally, cremation is conducted in specially designed furnaces known as retorts or cremation chambers. In most cases, crematories in Kenya will require the deceased’s family to present a container that will be used to carry the body. Caskets or rigid cardboards can be used to carry the body.

Why cremate in Kenya?

Why choose cremation over a traditional burial in Kenya? Though tough, this is a question you must answer when explaining to your friends and family any time you indicate ‘cremation’ as an item in your wishes’ list when you take the final bow.

Remember, cremation in Kenya is treated as a taboo particularly among the non-Hindus.  Well, here are the reasons why people will opt for cremation when preparing for your final sendoff:

  • Some people consider cremation as a simpler sendoff method than the conventional funerals. Normal burial ceremonies involve buying headstones, casket, burial place, payment of mortician fees and grave fees.
  • Cremation doesn’t involve complex portability. The deceased’s family members do not incur heavy fees when transporting the remains.
  • Friends and family may scatter or burry the remains of the deceased

How it works

Unlike the traditional burial ceremonies, cremation is a simpler process. The process involves exposing the deceased’s lifeless body to open flames, evaporation and intense heat. In essence, the cremation process seeks to reduce the deceased’s body into the simplest form possible for burial or scattering.

The cremation process

Well, here are the steps followed when conducting cremation in Kenya:

  1. The deceased’s family must seek for a formal cremation authorization.
    1. For authorization, you need to present the deceased’s burial permit and a stamped death certificate
  2. Consent from deceased’s family
  3. A representative from the deceased’s family makes formal booking at the crematorium of choice.
    1. The booking process should be completed 24-48 hours in advance
    1. In most cases, the crematorium will request for full payment of the bill
  4. The facility attendants will work to ensure that the crematoriu9m place is cleaned and ready for the occasion
  5. The attendants will ensure that the required materials are made available
    1. This will depend on the cremation method the family chooses for their loved one
  6. The deceased’s religious institution will conduct a short prayer servi0ce when the hearse carrying the body arrives
  7. The deceased’s body must be placed in a combustible container or coffin
  8. The body is later transferred on a crematorium trolley then moved to the cremation chamber/retort.
    1. Family members may choose to have the deceased cremated at an open kiln as they watch
    1. In most cases, people in Kenya will opt for closed cremation
  9. There are provisions for the family to choose one of the deceased’s kin to light the fire.
  10. The retort is preheated to a certain point then the body is quickly transferred in with the aid of a mechanized door. This minimizes heat losses.
  11. In normal circumstances, the human body will need 40 liters of diesel and temperatures set between 1000 and 2000 degrees Celsius to burn fully.
  12. An adult’s body will take about 90 minutes to burn fully
  13. The deceased’s body is exposed to the flame columns emi0tted by the furnace.
  14. In essence, the cremation process uses heat to dry the deceased’s body, and then burns the skin and hairs as it chars the muscles while vaporizing the soft tissues. The bones are calcified that they crumble
    1. The cremation chamber has an exhaust system that expels the gasses released in the combustion process
    1. Crematoriums do not produce smells
  15. The cremation technician crushes any partially cremated remains using a hoe-like rod
  16. The cremation remains will take the form of a pasty white ash
  17. The remains are transferred to the cremation urn and given to the deceased’s relatives
    1. The crematorium may return the ashes in a plastic box if there is  no urn

The costs

Cremation in Kenya is slowly, yet steadily taking shape. Nonetheless, you will part with anything between Ksh. 10,000 and Ksh. 100,000 if you decide to take a loved one’s body for cremation. The price variations will depend on the body in question, the deceased’s age, and the type of materials to be used in the cremation process.

Some crematoriums in Kenya like Kariokor and Hindu will impose flat rate charges of Ksh. 10,000 for members (mainly Hindus) and Ksh. 25,000 for nonmembers (non-Hindus).

Prominent people who were cremated in Kenya

Here is the list of prominent people in Kenya who opted for cremation:

  1. Former Safaricom CEO, Bob Collimore was cremated at a private function in Kariokor
  2. Kenneth Matiba, former politician and founder of multiparty polics
  3. Joshua Okuthe, former sports administrator
  4. Peter Njiru, former golfer
  5. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner
  6. Peter Okondo, former politician and cabinet minister
  7. Manaseh Kuria, former Anglican archbishop together with his wife Mary Kuria
  8. John Macharia, son of SK Macharia, the media mogul and owner of Royal Media Services
  9. Jeremiah Kiereini, a former Kenya billionaire
  10. Githae Kiereini, son of  Jeremiah Kiereini

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