PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE FUNERAL COMMITTEE OF Dr.THOMAS KAMBUNI NYAMBANE
KDRTV-The Organizing Committee of the funeral of the late Dr. Thomas Kambuni Nyambane led by the Bassi Foundation President Elder Simon Nyamari and the family of Dr. Nyambane accept to inter him in USA after intense consultations with the Kenyan Government Health Officials and following the directives from the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the family spokesman, Cyprian Kambuni, the family had no option but to accept the reality to inter his remains in Minnesota, USA after their attempts to engage the Public Health Officials in Kenya and the interior Ministry to accept his body to be flown to Kenya failed.
The late Dr Thomas Kambuni Nyambane (Tom) had indicated in his will that his remains be buried in Bokinami Village, Sameta Ward, Kisii County, Kenya in the event he died outside Kenya. This is something that he passionately talked about, even in public with friends.
The families here in the USA and back in Kenya were in one accord that his will should be honored without any question. This could have been extremely easy were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several teleconferences to negotiate the burial process for Dr. Nyambane were held between the Funeral Committee, the family here in Minnesota and in Kenya, and other states in the US, led by Dr. Nyambane’s Elder Brother Mzee Zephaniah Omanga Nyandika and the late Dr. Nyambane’s eldest son, Cyprian. The community representatives in the committee were Elders Joshua Ongoro and Simon Nyamari. Pastor Leakey Nyaberi represented The Mountain Experience SDA Church where Dr. Nyambane once served as a presiding Elder. The committee tasked Simon Nyamari and Joshua Ongoro to explore the possibilities of taking a COVID-19 remains to Kenya given the CDC position as well as that of the Government of Kenya.
Renowned community leaders were interviewed. Hennepin County Public Health Department was called for guidelines and the Funeral home staff were also requested to give guidelines, policies and regulations of shipping the body to Kenya.
Kisii County Government Executive of Health, Hon. Sarah Omache and Chief Officer of Agriculture, Mr. Geoffrey Mogire were also interviewed to give directions on this issue.
These were the findings:
1.Respect for the will of the dead is a value deeply rooted in all societies, cultures, and religions. Communities have no clear guidelines when such a will can be compromised or voided especially when people are faced with death from an infectious disease. Therefore, it can be difficult to balance honoring the will of the deceased with the health and safety of those who come into contact with them.
2.It has been established that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. People should avoid touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19 symptoms. Older people and people of all ages with several underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms and illness which are also fatal. This particular case falls under this category.
3.CDC requirements and guidelines for transporting a body with a quarantinable communicable disease symptoms are well laid on their website and must strictly be followed to the letter. At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55
4.It was also established that the Government of Kenya is not allowing entry of any deceased person suspected to have died of COVID-19.
In lieu and backdrop of the above stringent conditions and developments, the family and the funeral committee agreed unanimously that as much as they would have loved to honor the will of Dr. Thomas Kambuni Nyambane, their hands were tied by COVID-19 regulations which also falls under serious communicable diseases category and they accepted to bury their kin in the USA.
The committee further advised that it is necessary to come up with guidelines to serve as a resource for those who strive to achieve this balance or are impacted by it, for instance, workers in the interment industry, mortuary attendants, health professionals, families of the deceased, and the public.
Commenting on the above developments, Pr. Leakey M. Nyaberi advised the family to be easy with the decision because they can draw comfort from Abraham who purchased property to bury his wife Sarah in a foreign land. Even Jesus was buried away from home. Pr. Leakey further implored the family: “As you balance between respecting the will of your father and the health guidelines, please be comforted by the knowledge that your dad was firm in his decisions but not unreasonable. If he were here today, he could have changed his mind for sure.”
Dr Nyambane will be laid to rest here in Minnesota on the 12th of June 2020 following a service to pray for the family which will be held at United Central SDA Church.
The Funeral Committee Charirman -Elder Simon Nyamari
Dr. Thomas K. Nyambane Family Spokesperson- Cyprian Kambuni