Did You Know Why 19 Gun Salute for Kibaki State Funeral And Not 21?




Did You Know Why 19 Gun Salute for Kibaki State Funeral And Not 21?


On Saturday 30th April 2022, the third president of Kenya was laid to rest in his Othaya home in a ceremony that was attended by nearly every leader from across the political divide in the country. The Ex-president died on 21st April 2022 after a long illness. Then, President Uhuru announced that the former president will receive a state funeral befitting a former head of state. Like his predecessor, Kibaki will receive a full military burial complete with a 19-gun salute. Soon after his death was announced by the sitting head of state President Uhuru Kenyatta, the military immediately took over every detail of the burial preparations much to the chagrin of some family members who felt like they were not given enough time to mourn their kin, even so, Kibaki had given his entire adulthood to the public service and it went without saying, yeye ni mali ya umma.

Military police of all ranks and file were immediately posted at Lee Funeral Home to guard and ensure the smooth running of the burial arrangements and to affect the state funeral plans and programs. Everything and every plan were organized, planned, and paid for by the government. The military took over all the processions to and from parliament where KIbaki’s body lay in state for three days. Being a former head of state this was to be expected. On the day of the state funeral service held at the Nyayo Stadium on Friday 29th April 2022, the military took the body of the former President to the statehouse one more last time albeit posthumously, and later the body was transferred to the gun carriage the army was using to transport the body to and from Parliament buildings. Then from the statehouse to Nyayo stadium, the body was transported on the gun carriage vehicle as soldiers were drawn from the three arms of the Kenya Defense Forces(KDF) marched beside it on both sides and behind it in a formation from the statehouse to yayo stadium in a slow procession. At State House, GSU officers drawn from the G company that’s tasked with the security of both sitting and retired heads of state had their parade to send off their former boss. In their green ceremonial uniform, they lined up along the statehouse’s roads trumpeting the last post song as the military marched from the statehouse. In military or any disciplined forces, the last post is the last song trumpeted to signify the end of an assignment, for the day or an operation or life of one of their own, in this case, Ex-President Mwai Kibaki dies.their former Commander in Chief.

On Saturday the cortege, flanked by the military police outriders, left Lee Funeral Home by road via valley road and on to Thika Superhighway on their way to Othaya Nyeri. A journey of about one hour and a half but must have taken them over two hours being a procession. This was very significant considering this particular road was built by this same President. Its touted as his most visible legacy among many others. Right from the time the cortege left Lee Funeral home, Kenyans of all walks of life lined up along the road to bid him farewell. Despite him, having left State House ten years ago, it was obvious he was still loved by the majority of Kenyans if not all. Every step of the two-hour drive, there were Kenyans waving handkerchiefs and twigs signifying their mourning a hero, and their love for him.

But why was he accorded the 19 gun salute and not the 21 gun salute? What is the difference between these two military honours practised the world over? In Kenya, there have only been three state funerals conducted by the Military, and yes you guessed right it has only been accorded to our last three Presidents, Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Arap Moi and now Emilio Mwai Kibaki. Of the three it’s only Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who was accorded the 21 gun salute, Moi and Kibaki were accorded 19 gun salute. The 21 gun salute is only given to a serving Commander in Chief, and having died in power Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had to receive the full honours befitting a serving military officer in his capacity as the Commander in Chief, as he died in office. Moi and Kibaki could not be accorded these honours as they had already retired at the time of their death. Similarly, if the sitting head of state would order that the retired head of state be buried in his military regalia of the commander in chief, then and only then would a retired head of state be accorded the 21 gun salute since he is now being buried, wearing a military uniform. In this regard, a soldier who dies in active duty would also be accorded the 21 gun salute as he died in active duty and had not retired by the time of his death regardless of his rank.

The former president might have died and left us physically but his spirit of peace and unity, resilience and expansive development projects seen across the country and initiated during his tenure will outlive many generations to come. However, history will not be complete without capturing a blemish on his career that took place in 2007. The post-election violence happened under his watch and is widely believed to have been triggered by an election he took part in, which most people believe he lost but was sworn in at night at statehouse gardens nonetheless. But it’s how he handled the crisis afterwards that endeared many people to him. He together with Raila Amollo Odinga, the then opposition chief widely believed to have won that election formed a government of national unity despite most of their supporters and leaders from both divides having been against it. He rose above Party and tribal hegemony and steered the country from the abyss of an impending full-blown civil war. May God console his family and the entire nation in this time of sorrow.


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