Last year, a eulogy for a young man said to be from Meru went viral on social media. The family decided to give a brutally frank assessment of their kin Deric Mutuma’s life, writing that after a few year of gainful employment “he started to be a criminal, thief and evil dour (sic), untill teh day he met his death… where he was killed by mob justice.”

The no holds barred eulogy created quite a buzz, not least because of its approcah in a society that glosses over the failings of the dead.

It is this same society that eulogised some fallen bigwigs in glowing terms despite controversies that followed them in life.

Quite a number of prominent Kenyans have passed on in the last few weeks. First was Laikipia Senator GG Kariuki, then Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery, then former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott and ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat. All were leaders who wielded power and influence in government over several administrations.

But despite numerous controversies that dogged most of them while alive, they all of sudden became ‘angels’ in death. Never mind some of them were so selfish that they unsuccessfully tried to mortgage this great nation to the highest bidders.

Some were adversely mentioned in the infamous Wagalla Massacre reports, where more than 3,000 people were murdered. Others, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) recommended they be investigated in connection to former foreign minister Robert Ouko murder in 1990.

One was accused of gross human rights violation in connection to the 1984 military operation in West Pokot. Yet another one was implicated in many corruption scandals, including Goldenberg. What’s more, one of them, the TJRC said he bore responsibility for the 1980 Karatasi/Garissa Gubai Massacre, where 3,000 people were killed.

We were lied to of how they were great swimmers, marathoners, philanthropists and whatnot. Some observers say this happened perhaps because talking ill, however factual it may be, of the dead is frowned upon in this parts of the world.

Well, at such times, comforting everyone, especially the bereaved, is always the better and perhaps only option. Unfortunately, the best way Kenyans do this is by lying.

Sadly, pastors are always at the forefront in lying at funerals. They tell untruths about the dead, insisting that the deceased were perfect and some of the kindest human beings.

Some eulogies are outrageously fake, and as a mourner you are left shocked into embarrassment. When rapists, thieves, bandits, philanderers and all manner of crooks die, no one ever verbalises the fact that they were bad people. We generally make up attributes and tell people what they want to hear — nice things.

One wonders, why is it that we claim to be devoutly religious, yet we can’t say the truth and shame the devil as scriptures demand of us?

This, however, is not the case everywhere, a few say it in black and white. Unlike Kenyans — and Africans by extension— who have a curious relationship with the truth and honesty and irrational fear of the dead, mzungus and westerners in general somehow tend to be honest in their obituaries.

Take, for instance, what immediate former US president Barrack Obama said not long ago in his tribute to a senator who had a criminal record of having murdered his girlfriend. Knowing too well that the deceased had some dark moments in his life, Obama remained honest albeit diplomatically.

At some point in his tribute, cousin Berry paused, looked at the crowd and gently said: “Well, senator Ken Kennedy had experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.”

You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know he was referring to the murder incident.