The family of Ms Agnes Maureen Moraa bid her farewell on February 21 just before she flew to China for a business trip, expecting that she would rejoin them after a week.
What the family, however, received on Thursday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, was her body in a casket.
Ms Moraa, a niece of Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo and former Nyaribari Chache MP Simeon Nyachae, died in the Far East country after she was allegedly turned away by three Chinese hospitals when she sought medication.
According to a close family friend who had accompanied her on the trip but did not want to be named citing the sensitivity of the matter, Ms Moraa came down with some illness shortly after they landed in China’s Quanzhou City.
“Mumo’s (her family nickname) illness started with shivering and then quickly progressed into convulsions,” her brother Michael Mayieka Ndemo, who kept close contact with her over the phone during the trip, said.
Ms Esther Mayieka, a sister of Ms Moraa, tried to access the local hospitals for treatment when her illness progressed on the night of February 23.
“The second hospital turned her away and just said they don’t treat people at night,” she said. She added that her sister had a medical cover, without which, some hospitals reject patients.
The family believes Ms Moraa’s case is only the latest in a string of other similar cases of discrimination against foreigners by the Chinese — especially those from Africa.
“In our efforts to bring the body back we’ve heard from other families that have undergone the same predicament,” Mr Ndemo said.
The family plans to register a complaint with the Chinese embassy in Nairobi to formally protest the inhumane treatment before the woman’s death.
The family said the mistreatment of the 37-year-old mother of one came as a shock.
“It is not the kind of treatment you’d expect,” said Mr (Michael) Ndemo. Our efforts to get a comment from the Chinese embassy in connection with the case had failed by the time we went to press.