Janet Kanini-Ikua’s sudden death from lung cancer shocked the country early Saturday morning.
But many were not prepared for the emotional funeral service on Friday at Nairobi Baptist Church along Ngong’ Road.
The ushers, most of them Janet’s classmates from Precious Blood Riruta class of 1995), were easily identifiable.
They were dressed in black gowns with yellow corsages well placed on their upper left chest.
Bright yellow flowers dotted the coffin with Janet’s photo bringing memories of her smile.
In an emotional eulogy, Janet’s husband narrated how he picked her from Kirichwa Road bus stop on their first date. Read the entire eulogy:
“Darling Janet, where do I begin. I can’t believe I am writing your tribute with tears in my eyes, a hole in my heart, ache in my ribs but a huge smile on my lips, memories in my mind, music in my ears and dance in my step.
So much pain yet so much joy.
For ours was a life of love and laughter, emotion and drama, theatre and spectacle, pomp and grace, genius and creativity, bravery and pain, trust and believe, faith and honor, family and friends, Jaz and Pedro, Ying and Yang….we took them all and rode with them to the sunset together.
Our paths crossed 14 years ago and have never untangled since.
I had not thought it possible that such eyes exist until I bumped into you while wandering at Phoenix having mistaken a closet for the bathroom.
I know your mother is reading this but bless her for creating such a beautiful woman with legs of a goddess.
Your spontaneous laugh, witty chat, I had no chance and God had finally sent me my anchor to change this little realm of ours- together.
Our first date, picking you from Kirichwa Road bus stop seems like yesterday.
How can anyone look so beautiful wrapped in a bomber jacket 5 times your size? We walked up that road in the sunset, nervous, knowing something had just been born.
And there you opened your special star to shine on me and everyone we came across.
The star with the power to see only, and I mean only the absolute greatness in everyone. And that my love is the greatest gift you have ever given me and this world.
Hope in every man.
I remember we used to say ‘if you stare in goodness, then you create goodness in the stared upon.’
All my faults meant nothing and just like everything else in life you saw only the good in me, us, life.
So in a way darling, I am your creation for you brought out the goodness, kindness, honesty, caring and love in me for it’s what you chose to see.
And this promise I make to you, while it is tempting to see the faults in others, I will strive to bring out the greatness and kindness in others by seeing it.
I challenge the rest of us reading this to the “Janet Challenge”- bring the goodness out of your neighbor.
And so we started our long dating journey, the most exciting times a young man could ever be blest with.
From trips across the country to climbing through the window when the landlord locked the house… we never had a dull moment but we had it all together.
Our famous parties and playful banter, dedicated love, heated arguments, loyalty, friendship, we were in our own bubble and have stayed in that bubble till last Saturday when you decided to be an Angel.
I remember I proposed to you when you were yelling at me and I was laughing inside saying if she can nag like this she must be a good wife.
Typical to us we did our wedding our way- and out of that chaos was the most beautiful bride I will ever see.
I think we laughed with family and friends for a whole ten hours coz that’s all I remember.
And I promised you, when we go out, it’s going to be just the same, a service full of joy and laughter.
So, my friends, if you are not smiling please tickle yourself.
Am sorry hon, to see you loose your father was the most heartbreaking thing to watch.
I have never seen so much pain in someone’s eyes and am consoled you are now next to Tat.
Your love, respect and desire to honor him is a dedication I don’t think many will ever understand.
I learnt what it means to honor someone’s memory and I promise you Peter-Daniels, Jasmine-Six and everyone else I can drag will honor your legacy my love, every single day.
So all this time you were the media diva and the stunning cover girl, who would have thought you would transform into the most adoring mother.
I remember cutting Peter’s umbilical cord with you yelling expletives in my ear, me getting startled that the baby was gray (I thought we were Africans!) and you breaking into tears of joy- a mini you had joined our family.
And boy do you know how to mother and smother a child.
That boy got the biggest transfusion of love possible and he is so aptly named after your Tat.
He has your soul of a god, smile of an angel and talent of an artiste.
Other than having your replica stunning looks I see you living graciously through him.
Then came the absolutely stunning, ball of energy and laughter they call Jaz and where your love was for your for your two boys, now you multiplied with the same zeal to your little girl.
I think we are going to call her Baby J till she is 40.
On behalf of our children, I want to thank you for being the most amazing, loving, selfless mother we could have dreamed of.
You brought the spirit of Christmas into our home. I make this solemn promise, I got them and I will raise them to be the man and woman you dreamt them to be-worthy of your legacy.
As for your career wow, just wow. Everything you did was with perfection and a midas touch.
You achieved in 39 years what three generations take to achieve. I’m proud of you girl. In every field you worked, you received an award, and finally the country recognised you were one of the Top 40 under 40 women.
For me, you were always the Top 1 over 1 lady. You gave it all and taught me so much, and all the dreams we started and shared darling I will finish them. That is my promise to your legacy.
This last chapter: two years of your illness, has been one crazy ride that life threw at us. But like always said girl, keep smiling, storms grow the crops.
We did it all and with laughter in our eyes, angst in our minds but joy in our hearts.
Thank you for allowing me to fight alongside you, change forever the way our country understands cancer, bring out conversations that may save another, and most of all inspire those facing the disease to have hope.
Your faith grew and God listened. You are now his instrument to inspire his people. You didn’t lose girl, coz you are still here, and if you don’t believe me look at the crowd outside
still listening to your words and hope.
Me and you know how we threw the kitchen sink at this one and all through this you were still a lover, a wife, a mother, a friend, a neighbor, an ambassador…
On behalf of my fellow countrymen, thank you. We will honor you by continuing to give hope to those facing challenges. That concert will happen I declare to you.
As I pen off my love, my goodbye is just a hello as you will always be with me. My tears finally brim to my eyes. I will cry and I will sob and I will grieve.
Then I will rise, raise our kids, keep our home in laughter and keep your legacy going. Thank you for allowing me to love you and showing me true love.
Thank you for our two wonderful kids. We will celebrate you through our actions and how we treat each other.
Finally, you have achieved you’re God given purpose to inspire a nation. And you can tell everybody that this was your life. It may have been quite simple, but now that it’s done, how wonderful life is, that you were in the world.
Daddy would have been proud, the angels are dancing and the Almighty is pleased, you did it your way.
Frank Sinatra must have been thinking of you when he sang:
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Goodbye love. Go dance with the angels.”