Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai's body will be cremated at Kariokor Crematorium on Saturday in a private funeral according to her wishes, her family and the government announced yesterday. Her remains will then be interred in the compound of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environment Studies, her family said.
The decision was reached after a high level meeting between the family, nine Permanents Secretaries and two PC's at the Office of the President. Maathai had said she did not want to be buried in a wooden coffin. The private funeral service will begin at Lee Funeral Home where her body is being preserved, and proceed to Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park for a tree planting ceremony and performing of official rites in her honour by the Kenya Defence Forces.
The government and the family expect that over 5,000 seedlings will be planted countrywide in a programme sponsored by the Green Belt Movement and the government. The family will then proceed to Kariokor Crematorium. Members of public are welcome to pay their last respects both at Freedom Corner and along the route from Lee Funeral Home to the crematorium. The government will provide logistical support along the funeral procession route.
A week later on October 14, 2011, there will be a public memorial service and musical tribute in honour of Maathai at the Holy Family Minor Basilica from 10am. Another memorial service will be held at her mother's home in Ihithe, Nyeri county on the same day and will be coordinated by the Kenya Girl Guides Association and the local administration.
A tribute and celebration of the Nobel laureate's life through music and poetry will be held later at a yet undisclosed venue. Maathai's daughter Wanjira Mathai who was accompanied by her brother Sam Waweru said the family is gratified by the outpouring of condolences prayers and support from Kenyans of all walks of life, and from friends and well wishers from around the world.
Internal Security PS Francis Kimemia said the government will respect the Maathai's burial wishes and provide security, protocol and logistical support services at all venues where funeral arrangements are being made. He said that government will also facilitate all burial and funeral expenses in respect of Maathai.