Bernard Chemweno, a 33-year-old secondary school teacher at Maraba Secondary School in Kenya, set himself ablaze just hours to the solemnizing of his marriage to a woman he had been living with for six years.
The nasty turn of events has left his spouse, Mercy Chebichii, in shock and grief.
His wedding committee has been transformed into a funeral committee, as Kimoning Village in Uasin Gishu County comes to terms with the incident.
On the fateful Thursday, Bernard’s family had travelled to Cheptais in Mt Elgon for dowry negotiations for his younger brother, Festus Chemweno.
But Bernard remained behind.
“On Thursday morning, a group of relatives accompanied by Benard’s wife set out on a journey to Cheptais but he remained at home alone to finalise his wedding plans and run errands,” explains Oliver Chemweno, his elder brother.
The downcast Oliver says he kept in touch with Bernard via phone throughout their journey to Cheptais to update him of their progress, but at some point in the night as they were travelling back Bernard’s phone went off.
“I talked to Bernard when travelling back home from the pre-wedding more than once, but his phone was off and I thought it had run out of battery charge, only to be called by a neighbour who told us that the house his wife was renting was on fire,” he narrates.
Ill-fated house His wife, who is also a high school teacher, lived in the ill-fated house in Kapkei village in Uasin Gishu County.
“It was around midnight and we were close to home when I received the call that made all of us worried.
“We rushed there and found his house intact. But we were shocked when we arrived at his wife’s house in Kapkei. We got a rude shock,” says Oliver.
Oliver says Mercy’s house had been burned and Bernard’s charred body was on the floor.
Silah Keitany, the landlord to Bernard’s wife, said he heard a huge explosion on Thursday night and rushed to the house, which he found on fire.
“It took us around an hour to put out the fire and we were shocked to find a body burnt beyond recognition.
“He had wires tied around his neck. The explosion was so loud that its impact brought down the walls and iron sheets,” he said.
According to Keitany, Mercy had rented the house for convenience as she teaches at Kapkei Secondary School, only a few metres way.
“It was shocking because Bernard was a man of few words and always had on a happy face. We never imagined he had problems since they rented here three years ago.
“This is a big loss because this is our old mother’s house which she rents to get income. Her belongings in the next room have also been destroyed,” noted Keitany.
Bernard’s family was in utter shock when The Standard visited.”It is indeed a great loss for the family. Wedding plans were in top gear but things have changed.
“We cannot think of any event or situation that led to the occurrence because he was well-off and close with his wife as far as we know,” said Oliver who spoke on behalf of the family.
Police officers from Kapsoya Police Station, who arrived at the scene few hours later, took the deceased’s body to the Moi Teaching and Referral mortuary.