Why Mwai Kibaki Will Receive A 19-Gun Salute And Not 21

The late former President Mwai Kibaki will on Saturday receive a 19-gun salute as his body is lowered to the grave during his State funeral in Othaya, Nyeri County.

But just what does the 19-gun salute symbolize? And why is Kibaki not getting the 21-gun salute instead, anyway?

For starters, Kibaki becomes just the third Kenyan to ever be accorded a State funeral with full civilian and military ceremonial honours; after his predecessors Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1978 and Daniel arap Moi in 2020.

Kibaki State Burial

However, while Kibaki will get a 19-gun salute just like Moi before him, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s send-off was marked with a 21-gun salute.

The difference in the gun salutes is because Mzee Kenyatta died while still occupying the office of Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), as opposed to Moi and Kibaki who died after ending their tenures.

However, experts also tell Citizen Digital that both Moi and Kibaki could have received the 21-gun salute as well had President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that they be buried in military uniform for their times as Commanders-in-Chief as well.

A State funeral is a public ceremony observing strict rules of protocol held to honour Heads of State or other people of national significance.

Besides Kenyatta, Moi and now Kibaki, there are 3 0ther kenyan non presidents who were also accorded State funerals, but without military honours, namely; former Vice President Kijana Wamalwa, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, and former First Lady Lucy Kibaki.

To qualify for a State funeral, one has to be a sitting or retired Head of State, or Chief of Defense Forces.

Any other person, such as in the case of Maathai, Wamalwa, and Mama Lucy, however, has to have the State send-off authorized by the Defence Council.

Wamalwa, Kenya’s eighth vice president, was accorded a State burial on September 6, 2003 and although the government had offered to bury him at Heroes Corner in Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, he was buried at his Milimani home in Kitale.

Maathai’s funeral service was held at Uhuru Park, on October 7, 2011, and she was later cremated according to her will and the ashes interred at the Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environment Studies at the University of Nairobi’s Kabete campus.

Kibaki’s wife, Lucy, was buried on 7th May 2016, at her home in Othaya, where the former Commander-in-Chief will also be laid to rest.

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