- According to the committee that raised money for transporting the remains of the late Omar Mmubango, the body is likely to leave Jersey City, New Jersey as soon as the necessary certification is completed.
- But even as the remains of the late Mmubango make their way over the Atlantic to Kenya for his final resting place, certain aspects of his life in the US are emerging that provide a subtext to the dangers of living a secluded life in a foreign land.
In PHILADELPHIA, PA
The body of a Kenyan man who died in the United States two months ago and who was almost declared ‘unclaimed’, finally, will be buried in Mumias, Kakamega County.
For close to two months, no relative or friend had shown up to claim the body.
According to the committee that raised money for transporting the remains of the late Omar Mmubango, the body is likely to leave Jersey City, New Jersey as soon as the necessary certification is completed.
“For now, we really can’t say when the body will ship because we are working on the paperwork but we want everybody to know that we have raised enough money to transport our compatriot back home for burial,” said Kennedy Chesoli, a member of the ad hoc committee that coordinated the fundraising carried out on online platform Gofundme.
Mr Omar Mmubango, originally from Mumias, but who had lived an almost isolated life in the US for over three decades without most Kenyans, even those who lived in his neighbourhood, knowing him or anything about him died on February 9 while undergoing treatment at the University of Philadelphia Hospital.
He was suffering from complications associated with cancer.
But because he had no family or relatives living in the US and since he led a solitary life, Kenyans living in the US were not aware of his illness and subsequent death until the University Hospital Mortuary reached out to his daughter living in Kenya.
The hospital informed her that plans were being made to declare the body ‘unclaimed’ and therefore discard it “the way they saw fit” unless she made arrangements to collect it immediately.
Mr Mmubango’s daughter, Shassy Mwajuma, had been listed by the deceased as the next of kin in the contacts he had given the hospital at his admission.
Out of desperation, and because she could not immediately raise money to book a ticket to the US, Ms Mwajuma took to social media and contacted the people she was “friends” with on Facebook especially Luhyias living in the US and highlighted her family’s plight.
“And this is really how the news broke out. A tweet at first, a WhatsApp and Facebook messages went out and we were like, wow wait a minute! this person, whoever he is, is one us and as always, we burry our own so immediately a few of us came together and established a Gofundme donation link and the money started coming in,” said Kennedy Chesoni, a member of the team that is now being credited for raising enough money to send the late Mmubango’s remains home to Mumias for interment.
The Gofundme post was widely publicised in popular Kenyan news aggregating sites like Diaspora Messenger, Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot among others.
Mr Chesoni, a Policy expert at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations headquarters in New York, told the Nation.co.ke that immediately the news of the impending disposal of the remains of the late Mmubango broke, the Kenyan community in the US sprung into action and started contributing to the fund.
By Sunday, when the fundraising closed, the team had managed to raise enough funds to accord the deceased a sad but ‘heartwarming’ send-off and also to clear his mortuary and funeral expenses.
“As we speak right now, the remains of the late Mmubango have been moved from the University of Philadelphia hospital mortuary and are now preserved at Watson Funeral Home in Jersey City, New Jersey awaiting transportation to Nairobi and then on to Mumias for burial in the course of this week,” Mr Chesoli said.
He added: “We ended our campaign Sunday — 14 day since we started this initiative. We managed to raise $14,416 from some 263 individuals. Our Abeingo Boston brothers raised $2,360.
“We received support from all over the United States…we even received a message of condolence and donation from South Africa,” he added.
But even as the remains of the late Mmubango make their way over the Atlantic to Kenya for his final resting place, certain aspects of his life in the US are emerging that provide a subtext to the dangers of living a secluded life in a foreign land.
Information available on the internet, public libraries and personal accounts of the few people who knew the late Mmubango reveal a very mysterious person, indeed.