Don’t ‘show off’ with big funerals, bishop warns

2013-05-16 12:40

The high cost of funerals in black communities is putting families under unnecessary pressure and needs to end, an Eastern Cape bishop has said.

Bishop Makhosi Ngcoza, inundated with counselling families battling debt after spending exorbitant amounts of money on extravagant funerals, has called a meeting and invited ward councillors, and traditional, church and other community leaders to intervene.

Ngcoza, the president of Flames of Fire Ministries in Ntabankulu, attributed this to competition and expectations in black communities, even poor families, to “raise the bar” when it come to funerals.

“It is all about showing off,” Ngcoza said.

He said funerals cost anything between R30 000 and R50 000. Most of the money was used to hire tents, public announcement systems and to buy groceries.

Families who cannot afford these extravagant funerals or have no funeral cover ended up borrowing the money, sometimes from loan sharks, in order to meet the high standards that have been set.

“For instance, it is a norm for families to spend R10 000 on a cow to be slaughtered in a funeral. This is besides the six or more sheep, the chickens for those who do not eat red meat. This is unnecessary expenditure, because a simple biscuit and juice is sufficient for people during a funeral,” Ngcoza said.

He said in the meeting he wants to make a call to the leaders to advise their people to be more tactful when spending for funerals.

“You don’t get any grace from God for holding a big funeral. So who are we trying to impress by staging these glittering events we call funerals. Who benefits from them? certainly not the dead and definitely not the ones left behind,” Ngcoza argued.

He said the meeting, to be held on June 5 in Mount Ayliff would be open to anyone.

“We want to warn our people about this because it is destroying them. It has to stop,” he said.

The bishop said the amount of time spent on funerals was also ridiculous, and that the number of speakers also needed to be reduced.

He said memorial services, normally held a few days before the funeral served as a mini-funeral, with a number of speakers who are likely to speak during the funerals repeating the same things they said in the memorial services.

- City Press

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