2020 was a testament to just how fragile life can be. In a span of a few months, the world was rocked by the COVID-19 virus which claimed the lives of millions of people around the world. Every day thousands of people lost their lives to the virus which is still claiming lives to this day. In Kenya, the first death was recorded on March 26th, 2020. The victim was a middle-aged man who had traveled from South Africa. He succumbed to the illness while receiving treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital. From then, the numbers only kept growing.
The COVID-19 virus has claimed its victims without discrimination. Big or small, young or old, distinguished or undistinguished, none of them could escape this fate. We’ve lost more legends, from entertainers to politicians, in this period than ever before. We honour these legends and others who we’ve lost their lives to COVID-19.
1. Papa Shirandula
Charles Bukeko aka Papa Shirandula was one of Kenya’s leading actors and was at the forefront of shaping the industry into what it is today. The veteran star graced our screens in several TV shows but gained popularity through his show dubbed Papa Shirandula. He played a watchman at a private company who made his wife believe that he was a Manager. This would become his most iconic character which many came to know him by.
The actor extraordinaire succumbed to COVID-19 complications on 18th July 2020. He is said to have developed breathing problems and died shortly after being taken to hospital. His family confirmed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and went into isolation but his condition worsened. Messages of condolences flooded in with many praising Charles’ acting skill. One of them included the Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, who praised Charles Bukeko as a self-made man who epitomized the joy and optimism of Kenyans
2. Kamau Mugenda
Kamau Mugenda, a beloved member of the medical fraternity in the country, died on August 12th, 2020 from COVID-19 complications. The vibrant medical expert was the second in command at the Kenya Medical Research Institute. He was hailed as a people person which was evident from the people who mourned him.
Prior to Kamau’s death, many healthcare workers had come out to protest the devastating conditions in the hospitals. They were exposed to the coronavirus due to a shortage of PPEs. Reports showed that three health workers had already succumbed to COVID-19 and tens more had been infected with the virus. His death sparked more anger in the medical community. Healthcare workers have been in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. This makes them the most at risk of contracting the virus.
3. Governor John Nyagarama
Governor John Nyagarama may have been a trained teacher but he pursued his political ambitions with resilience. After leaving his teaching job, he ventured into farming and later became a trainee manager at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA). He then joined politics in 2002 when he ran for the West Mugirango parliamentary seat unsuccessfully. he was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017 through an ODM ticket.
When COVID-19 began spreading in the country, the Nyamira governor became a huge proponent of following the social distancing guidelines and urged his county people to follow the same. Unfortunately, he contracted and succumbed to the virus on December 18th, 2020. The 74-year-old had been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 complications a month prior to his death. Nyagarama went noticeably absent from public duties after falling sick which raised some eyebrows. However, his family insisted that he was well. It was only upon his death that people learned the Governor had contracted the novel coronavirus.
This is only but a few mentions of the people we have lost in the country due to COVID-19. The virus has robbed many families of their loved ones and some, of their breadwinners. We continue to pray for those that have lost someone to COVID-19 and for the departed souls to rest in peace.