Don’t pimp my last ride

2010-06-05 13:15

Early on a chilly Saturday morning, Avalon cemetery is already a

hive of activity.

A group of mourners, mostly in designer clothes, are

frantically trying to figure out which funeral service they are part of.

This is

because six different services are in fully cry in the same vicinity at the same


After failing to identify their party through the pastor - of whom

there many in their brightly coloured robes - they resort to checking out the


These are easier to find because the procession was led by a pimped-up

gold hearse and two stretch limos which carried the grieving family members.


bereaved family is already seated across from one of the graves in a

red-carpeted, white tent with draped chairs, flavoured bottled water, two brand

new shovels and tons of flowers.

It’s all part of the R44 000 package which came with the casket

carrying the deceased.

The service has already started, but not much can be heard.

The pastor is drowned out by the funeral of the deceased next door

whose family is richer and is making its presence felt with a sound system - a

top-up addition to their casket package.

As a member of the community which buries its loved ones at Avalon

and Roodepoort cemeteries, I’m ashamed to say this is a bling confusion we’ve

come to love.

Funerals at these cemeteries have become less about the departed

and more about how their family’s are perceived by the community.

Money has

changed everything, starting with how well the ­undertaker treats you once they

realise you will be going for this must-have casket package.

This has many a poor soul to live a sad life as they save up for

the day they die.

You’d rather starve on earth than suffer the ignominy of

having the mourners gossip about your less than R 10 000.00 coffin.

Traditionally the funeral convoy is led by the hearse but nowadays

some mourners overtake it if they feel it is too slow for their liking.


want to quickly get back to their cold beer which is waiting at the “after

tears” venue.

This ­presents a huge marketing opportunity for the ­undertakers to

show off their latest wares, ­including the pimped-up cars, which often become a

talking point for mourners, distracting them from the real reason they came to

the cemetery.

While the deceased may now have all the time in the world and not

have to rush anywhere, it’s different for the over-booked undertakers.

More than

a few have been involved in car accidents while rushing the bereaved to their

final rest.

And they are not the only ones in a rush.

I’ve seen mourners in

fast cars overtaking the hearse, traditionally the lead car in the convoy, to

get to the after tears and its promise of cold beer and hot topics.

Our overcrowded cemeteries, the Aids pandemic and our lust for

status and power has meant a change in our value systems.

We need to go back to basics and remember our loved ones for who

they really were while they were alive.

It’s no use spending thousands on a

funeral for a relative who often went to bed on an empty stomach.

Pensioners I

know are forced to sleep under tables on kitchen floors and have to endure

nights of endless speeches about how much easier it would be if they were dead.

Some pensioners are even starved by their children to ensure that when death

knocks at the door, it finds them with enough funeral policies to afford them a

grand send-off.

The monster that is the funeral ­industry is eating up our value

systems and killing our ­culture.

Sadly, we are the ones feeding it.

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