Yvonne requiem mass held ahead of burial

Robin Obino @obinorobin

Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa yesterday led hundreds of Kenyans to eulogise Yvonne Wamalwa, the widow of Kenya’s eighth Vice President Kijana Wamalwa who passed on last week while undergoing treatment at Nanyuki Cottage Hospital.

The CS, who is Yvonne’s brother-in-law, described her as a devoted leader who served the country with zeal. “Our sister-in-law loved both her family and country in equal measure. She also loved God,” he said. Yvonne, who served as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN-Habitat and later deputy High Commissioner to Australia, died on January 25 after a long battle with cancer.

Foreign affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma described her as “a selfless leader who dedicated her all” for the sake of the nation. “I personally met her (Yvonne) for the first time in 2002 and then later when she joined the civil service in 2006 she was a selfless leader. Yvonne gave and gave and gave,” she said.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka said: “The passing of Yvonne has robbed us a selfless leader, who was a role model in her community and in the nation. Hers was servanthood leadership.” Lusaka also dismissed a rumour that Yvonne had been fired from the ministry before she died. “Let’s sometimes engage our brains before making some comments.

Yvonne died in office. She was a civil servant at the time of her death,” he said. There was a light moment, however, when Eugene Wamalwa invited National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga to give his message of condolence.

Wamalwa introduced Raila both as a close family friend and a former Prime Minister. But Raila wondered why he (Wamalwa) could not recognise him as president. “We have come to mourn a friend, Yvonne. But there is one thing Wamalwa forgot. He forgot to refer to me as ‘His Excellency’. I don’t know whether that was deliberate or just a genuine omission,” he said to the amusement of the mourners.

The former premier took a controversial oath on Tuesday as the ‘people’s president’. Yvonne’s body will be airlifted to her Kitale home today ahead of tomorrow’s burial.

Kitale Catholic Bishop Maurice Crowley, who presided over the grand wedding of the Wamalwas in 2003 and later the funeral of the former VP six months later, will lead the funeral mass for Yvonne. The requiem mass was attended by, among others, senior government officials, elected leaders, former Attorney General Amos Wako, former ministers Chris Okemo and Mutahi Kagwe.

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