Planning to Leave!

Veteran politician Martin Shikuku, former MP of Butere, joins the many prominent Kenyans that have lost their lives in 2012. He is reported to have battled with cancer for a while until his demise. He dies at the age of 79.

70 years of Age

Martin Shikuku in early times

In some sense, his story is a surprising one, even shocking according to some, especially when placed in an African context. According to his family members, Shikuku believed that after 70 years, any extra years of life is a bonus. From this reasoning he did what many of us would deem unthinkable.

Martin Shikuku built his own coffin 10 years back and that of his wife. He didn’t stop there. He went ahead and prepared two graves; his and that of his fourth wife and ensured that they all had their names engraved on them. Talk of digging your own grave, literally!

According to me, however, this is what I call living in reality. He actually gets into my book of records, as one of those who inspire me in various ways. Many would ask, why, in his wildest dreams would a sane man of his calibre build his own coffin and dig his grave? I understand that in most African traditions, it is taboo for a person to do so. It even calls for immediate ‘cleansing’ rituals once it’s discovered and for Martin Shikuku he was advised to plant a certain tree to avoid the wrath of the spirits, an advice he defied.

But, lets take a moment and think of this. In Kenya, once a person dies, immediate family members, relatives and friends gather to make burial arrangements. The major part of this usually includes fundraising to offset hospital bills and cover costs to be incurred during the funeral. We spend nearly a whole week meeting and organizing for all the necessary details that need to be dealt with before we finally bid our beloved ones goodbye.

African Culture and Traditions

Martin Shikuku

In some African cultures, the job of preparing the grave is usually a preserve of the men. This takes one to two days to complete. Others will take more if the family decides to construct a flashy and more expensive grave, a trend that seems to be catching on rapidly as many believe that the deceased need to be accorded a great and respectable send off, “after all this is the last time we get to celebrate their stay in this world,” they may explain.

It is at this point I ask, is it then not ok for one to prepare their grave as well as build their coffin before they die? After all while we are on this world, one thing is definite, and that is death. Whether we accept it or not we’ll all die one day. This is the hard truth as much as it is a sad reality.

I love what David Gerrold says about death, “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.”

This is a grim and brutal outlook about life but having known that it’s life’s process, I want to believe it’s only fair to make it easier for the people you live behind. It is undoubtedly a great idea for everyone to plan for their last day on earth.

I know and it’s a non-negotiable fact that no one knows the fateful day and time, but yes, it will strike when we least expect it. With this in mind and considering the hassle that funerals involve I strongly think it makes a lot of sense to think of getting a funeral cover, one that will ensure that your family and relatives do not spend all their time and money planning and re-planning for your send off. By considering taking a funeral cover, you ensure that your relatives and friends have a peaceful time as they come to terms with their loss.

Nothing Pessimistic about death

A flashily done coffin

This is what a friend told me, “I would rather take life insurance than take a funeral insurance policy. It says life and that is positive.” I agree that this is positive thinking, but lets also accept the fact that death is real and surely there is nothing pessimistic about preparing for our burial day. I equate it to a lady buying herself a wedding gown in expectation that one day she will get married. Let’s face it, a majority of us take a driving licence way before we even know if we’ll ever get to own a car. We do all these in faith that they’ll finally come to pass. We even plan for them. Though, they are generally positive and worth looking forward to, they are not definite and cannot be equated to death which is real and will surely happen. Being prepared, whether psychologically, emotionally and even socially, is a sure way of ensuring that you get the treatment you desire for yourself.

Having known that no one can confidently say he or she will be alive tomorrow, it only makes sense to plan.


“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” This is what I mean: Having fully enjoyed your life and lived it to your best, it follows that you will have no qualms with death and the day it will eventually strike.

Over to you, as you plan to leave or to live, conquer your fears and follow in the footsteps of Martin Shikuku. Be on the look out for the best coffin as per your wish. Why not even  go ahead and dig your own grave?


2 thoughts on “Planning to Leave!

  1. Death, of all the world wonders that i have yet seen, it seem to me the most funny that men should fear, knowing that, death, a necessary end, will come when it comes

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