EXCLUSIVE: Family of Kenyan engineer who di*d of coronavirus speaks out

By , K24 Digital
On Fri, 27 Mar, 2020 17:31 | 4 mins read
The engineer’s house erected in a compound in Kimalewa Village in Kabuchai Constituency, Bungoma County, remained a ghost of its former self: no movements, few people and no life. [PHOTO: JOHN MAKUBA | K24 DIGITAL]
The engineer’s house erected in a compound in Kimalewa Village in Kabuchai Constituency, Bungoma County, remained a ghost of its former self: no movements, few people and no life. [PHOTO: JOHN MAKUBA | K24 DIGITAL]
The engineer’s house erected in a compound in Kimalewa Village in Kabuchai Constituency, Bungoma County, remained a ghost of its former self: no movements, few people and no life. [PHOTO: JOHN MAKUBA | K24 DIGITAL]

There was little or zero activity Friday at the Bungoma homestead of Engineer Maurice Barasa Namiinda, the 66-year-old Kenyan national who succumbed to coronavirus on Thursday, March 26.

The engineer’s house erected in a compound in Kimalewa Village in Kabuchai Constituency, Bungoma County, remained a ghost of its former self: no movements, few people and no life.

The Kimalewa community was mourning their son, though in silence and at a distance.

An old photo of Engineer Maurice Barasa Namiinda (circled), when he visited his village in Bungoma years back. [PHOTO: JOHN MAKUBA | K24 DIGITAL]

Barasa’s death did not bring sorrow to the people of Kimalewa only, but also the inhabitants of Naisambu Village in Cherangany Constituency in Trans-Nzoia County, where the Late owned a palatial home that sat on a 100-acre swathe of land.

Back to Barasa’s home in Kabuchai, only his two younger brothers and his sister-in-law were present in his homestead.

Paul Wanjala, Barasa’s sibling, told K24 Digital that they learnt of their loved one’s death in a rather heartbreaking fashion.

“We knew about Maurice’s death on social media,” he said, while attempting to hold back gloom that was too strong to be suppressed.

Barasa’s other brother, David Khisa, told K24 Digital that as of Friday, March 27, they did not know whether they would be given their sibling’s body for burial, or whether their kin will be cremated the same way other coronavirus victims in other parts of the world, including China and Italy, have been discarded.

“We are waiting for communication from the government,” said Khisa.

The two brothers have fond memories of a man, whom they said played an important role in ensuring they got an education.

“He never complained, he never chose one over the other as he committed his resources to our education,” said Paul Wanjala.

The deceased’s sister-in-law and Paul Wanjala’s wife, Agnes Wanjala, said despite Barasa being a man of the people, none of the community members (as at the time of publishing this story) visited to condole with them. Agnes says the keep-off could be due to fear of contracting coronavirus as the residents believe the deceased interacted closely with his family members.

The Late Barasa, who worked with the GIBB Africa Limited, is survived by seven children.

GIBB Africa Ltd (formerly Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, Africa) has been involved in development projects in East and Central Africa since the early 1940s. The company has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and has offices in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Some of the services offered by the firm include: strategic environmental assessments, engineering designs, economic and feasibility studies, master planning and studies, supervision of construction contracts, among others.

The Late Barasa lived in Nairobi’s Buruburu Phase 5 estate with his family.

Relatives told K24 Digital that at least five of Barasa’s family members have been placed under mandatory confinment after the engineer tested positive for COVID-19 early this week.

On Thursday, March 26, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced in a press statement that a 66-year-old Kenyan man, who had been diagnosed with coronavirus, had died. The minister did not give identification details of the deceased. We have, however, established that the patient was Maurice Barasa Namiinda.

Barasa died at the Aga Khan Hospital Thursday afternoon (March 26), where he had been placed at the intensive care unit, said CS Kagwe.

“The man who was suffering from diabetes had arrived in the country on March 13 from South Africa via Swaziland,” read a part of Kagwe’s press statement.

“My condolences to the family,” added the CS.

K24 Digital has learnt that Barasa was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital last Sunday (March 22) after he got ill. Subsequent tests on him confirmed he was a carrier of coronavirus.

Kenya, as of Friday, March 27, recorded 31 COVID-19 cases, with one patient confirmed to have recovered, Health minister, Mutahi Kagwe, said.

In a press briefing Friday evening (March 27), CS Kagwe said of the 29 active cases, two male patients, including a Kenyan national and a French citizen, were moved to the ICU wing at Aga Khan Hospital after developing complications.

“Together with the medical team at the hospital, we are closely monitoring their treatment, and the patients are behaving well,” said the minister in a press conference held at Afya House.

“In the last 24 hours, a total of 156 samples from suspected cases of coronavirus have been tested at various laboratories in Kenya, and all the 156 suspected cases tested negative for COVID-19,” added the CS.

Five counties produced the 31 coronavirus cases in Kenya. The five include Nairobi (21), Kilifi (6), Mombasa (2), Kajiado (1) and Kwale (1).

Nineteen (19) of the 31 cases are male, whereas 12 are female, revealed the CS.

“The total number of close contacts that we have so far identified are 1, 067. Out of this number, 136 have been discharged after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Currently, our teams are monitoring 931 close contacts. We have five individuals admitted at Mbagathi Hospital waiting test results. As of March 27, Kenya has tested 752 persons for the coronavirus disease,” said Kagwe.

“From Sunday, March 29, we shall embark on mass COVID-19 testing of more than 2, 000 people who arrived in Kenya from foreign nations. The 2, 000 are currently under mandatory quarantine,” said the minister.

The minister’s revelations came on the back of increasing COVID-19 cases across the world.

As of Friday, March 27, the world had registered 552,943 coronavirus cases, with 25,045 patients (4.5 per cent) dying, 128,706 patients (23.3 per cent) recovering.

The USA leads in the number of infections in the world with 85, 762 and 1, 306 deaths.

Italy, however, leads in the number of COVID-19-related deaths with 8, 215 victims succumbing to the contagion.