They were born on the same day, grew up together and died on the same day in a coincidence that has shocked their families, relatives and neighbours.
Cases of identical twins scoring similar academic marks in school tests or sharing marriage preferences are common.
Cases of twins dying separately on the same day are rare but not unknown. For instance, in March 2017, 97-year-old twins, Katy Davis and Emma, fell and died on the same day in Rhode Island, an internet search revealed.
Onesmus Susa Mati and Gabriel Mutie Mati were the best of friends since infancy, during their schooling and eventually settling down and raising families next to one another in Mangina village, Kitui County.
In their 63 years of existence, families and neighbours were accustomed to their striking resemblance and mannerisms but they never expected the twins to die on the same day.
“We’re shocked. As a family, we are surprised at God’s unique plan of taking their souls on the same day,” Onesmus’ daughter Kalau Susa said.
Her father, she said, was admitted to Kitui County Referral Hospital with kidney complications on January 6. Doctors advised that he undergo dialysis.
Gabriel woke up early the following day and left the village to check on his brother at hospital. He insisted on keeping Onesmus company the entire day.
Fell ill at night
Ms Kalau said her father and uncle had lengthy discussions and even shared a meal at the hospital’s amenity ward.
“Our uncle left for home around 5pm and promised to call my father in the evening. They never spoke because my father’s condition grew worse that evening,” Ms Kalau told the Nation.
Upon reaching home, Gabriel suddenly fell ill at night. His condition deteriorated rapidly when he developed breathing complications.
Gabriel’s wife Florence Mutie said he was okay until 3am when he started complaining of chest pains. Gabriel died at dawn of January 8, as family members prepared to take him to hospital.
On life support
And, at the hospital where Onesmus was admitted, doctors worried that his condition had not improved. They decided to put him on life support as they organised a referral to Nairobi Women’s Hospital in Nairobi.
As his children arrived at the hospital in the morning to check on him, they were informed of their uncle’s sudden death.
They said they were shocked to find their father subconsciously asking about his brother’s whereabouts.
“Despite being critically ill, my father kept mentioning his brother’s name and telling him he is on the way. It is like he knew his twin brother was already dead,” Ms Kalau said.
“The family just focused on organising for an ambulance to rush him to Nairobi Women’s Hospital.”
About 10am, an ambulance with Onesmus, nurses and two of his daughters left Kitui for Nairobi.
Breathed his last
On reaching Kauwi, just 20 kilometres from Kitui town, Onesmus breathed his last, following Gabriel, who had died some five hours earlier.
As their uncle’s family was preparing to take Gabriel’s body to the mortuary, the ambulance taking Onesmus to Nairobi turned back to return his body to Kitui.
The bodies of Onesmus and Gabriel are at Tribute Funeral Home in Kitui town.
Ms Kalau said her mother and step-mother were to follow them to Nairobi later. They were to remain with Onesmus at Nairobi Women’s Hospital during the duration of his sickness.
It was not to be. The women were shocked to receive the sad news of his death. Onesmus had been in hospital for two days.
“It’s a double tragedy for the family and our village. We still can’t believe they died suddenly on the same day, just the way they arrived in this world,” Onesmus’ son-in-law Evans Mutua said.
That Friday evening, the two families and relatives who now say the twins have reunited in death, congregated at their homesteads to make burial arrangements.
Joint funeral meetings
In honour of Gabriel and Onesmus’ powerful bond, the families have agreed to hold joint funeral planning meetings.
Onesmus and Gabriel will be buried on Saturday.
There will be a joint requiem Mass and thereafter burial at their homes.
“They were born on the same day and died on the same day. We will do everything possible to honour and respect whatever they would have wanted to do together,” Ms Kalau said, adding that the coffins and graves will be separate because Onesmus and Gabriel had families of their own.
Fondly known in their village as Mavatha ma Mumbe (Mumbe’s twins) after their mother Mumbe Mati, the brothers will be remembered for their friendship and love for each other’s families.
Worked as accountants
Their children were nostalgic about their life in Mombasa where the twins worked as accountants.
They also recalled the many joint family gatherings they held when their fathers were alive.
Onesmus retired from Kenya Petroleum Corporation in 2018, while Gabriel left DT Dobie to engage in farming.
Onesmus leaves two widows and seven children — Stella, Dennis, Martin, Kalau, Milkah, Stephen and Cecilia, while Gabriel had one wife and six children — Rachael, Richard, Lilian, Carol, Collins and Faith.