High level clouds. Cool.
The funeral of Richard Maponya. (Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun).
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Whether it is the juxtaposing of the seriousness of the event against a comedic situation, or our natural anxiety about being at a funeral that places us on the verge of chaos, funerals are perfectly placed to bring out the worst in us, writes Howard Feldman
I recall with such fondness a funeral that I attended some years ago when the Rabbi who was officiating at the grave site, lost his trousers when his suspenders that were holding them up, and that had been under increasing strain, finally gave up the ghost.
The Rabbi, since passed, who was a man of great character and robust confidence, hardly missed a beat.
On noticing that his pants were around his ankles and not around his waist, swooped down gathered them up unto himself without any disturbance to his meaningful eulogy.
Another funeral had me at odds with my brother-in-law.
In retrospect it was fairly comical, but I was only able to appreciate the full magnificence of the situation after the event.
It was a particularly windy and rainy day when we stood at the graveside to bury the deceased.
Whilst we intoned the prayer, looking appropriately sombre, a gust of wind and rain swept across Westpark, lifting not only umbrellas but also the hat that my brother-in-law was wearing.
The accessory flew up into the air before being deposited in an empty grave that lay waiting for its tenant. It needs to be said that it was not a particularly stylish piece (read; ugly) which meant that in my view it was now seeing a perfectly fitting end.
Or it should have. But my family member instead chose to ask one of my children (who was attending his first funeral) just to pop into the hole and to retrieve it.
The look of horror on the child's face was enough, but not needed for me to ask the bloke if he was clinically insane?
If he wanted his hideous hat, I explained between clenched teeth, then he was more than welcome to travel the 6ft towards the centre of the earth in the pouring rain.
If not, then it would be best that he made peace with his loss.
Whether it is the juxtaposing of the seriousness of the event against a comedic situation, or our natural anxiety about being at a funeral that places us on the verge of chaos, funerals are perfectly placed to bring out the worst in us.
Which is possibly why the actions of the SA Police at the funeral of Dr. Richard Maponya seems to have captured the country’s imagination.
The now viral video of the senior members of the force marching in different directions, before stopping, negotiating and then still not getting it right is brilliant in its horror.
They never fail to disappoint ??#MaponyaFuneral pic.twitter.com/QJF9XbqPHt— Blessings Ramoba ???? (@BlessingsRamoba) January 14, 2020
They never fail to disappoint ??#MaponyaFuneral pic.twitter.com/QJF9XbqPHt
Monty Python couldn’t have done it better, because this really was a flying circus.
As funny as it was in some respects, it was appalling in others.
Not only did the marchers become a laughing stock of the country, but the funeral itself turned into a social media fiasco.
And whereas there are a few of us who could think of little better for our own send-off, I doubt that Dr. Maponya or the mourners would have elected this as an option.
It's not the first time that we have seen these types of displays.
The SANDF marching in Muizenberg last year could well have been where these individuals learned their trade. In that case the military parade was nothing short of a comedic shamble. None of this would have mattered if there wasn't the attempt to add the ceremony to the ceremony.
If instead of police uniforms (medals and all) they attended the funeral as well-dressed individuals, none of this would have occurred or would have been an issue.
The bottom line is that if we are going to try and present with dignity and decorum at a ceremony, then it's time we got it right.
But until then, I intend getting a list of the funerals that our national forces are going to attend to that I can watch them perform live.
If you know what I mean.
- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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