Funerals... Whose culture is it, anyway?

2016-01-03 04:47

Africans are historically known to pride themselves in the richness of their diverse cultures, traditions, heritage and norms. Diverse as they are, Africans have one thing in common... They have a special place in their hearts for the deceased. A dead person receives an eternal respect, and assumes some supernatural abilities as an ancestor. That is an African version of a Saint.

In the past, funerals and burials were deemed sacred. There were strict, specific norms, standards, and habits that were followed when burying the loved one. Similarly, there were taboos too. The Do's and Don't's were extremely stringent.

As the Western life creeped in, so did civilization. With the ushering in of civilization, the African norms and standards hurriedly vanished into thin air, making way for the "modern life".

I must say, frankly speaking, civilization has really brought so much conveniences for us, Africans. The cellphones, the flights, electricity, vehicles, technology, just to name but a few. I, therefore, cannot be so naïve to say civilization shouldn't have happened to an African child.

Back to my story.

As I attend many of the African funerals, I tend to notice how we, Africans, spend on a funeral. Spending in this regard is not necessarily on money alone, but time too... The time we, Africans, take to bury our loved ones from the day they are certified dead until the coffin descents into the notorious grave.

Let's remind ourselves. Africans never owned refrigerators in the past. Neither did they use morgues to store the mortal remains of their loved ones. Hence, their burials were a matter of a day or two.

Nowadays, Africans keep the bodies of their deceased in the mortuary for an average of a fortnight before burial. Beside this being financially expensive, it also drags the bereavement time. We all know the relief we get after the burial of our loved ones. Waiting for such a long time before burial surely does more harm than good, emotionally.

White people do not do the same. Yet we say this civilization was brought by whites. Neither do Indians bury their deceased after this long. So, if neither of them do that, whose culture is it, anyway? Where did we learn this? Surely, this is not our culture.

The money we spend to organize our funerals is exorbitant. We buy everything and anything expensive. When the funeral looked most expensive, the deceased is said to have been buried well. The so-called "Best send-off" (o bolokegile).

The dome-shaped expensive caskets. The gigantic marquees. The decor and catering. The motorcade. Often, the new designer clothing. The gardens of flowers aka wreaths. Expensive halls. High definition cameras. Buffet. Expensive mega-tombstones.

Again, white people don't do that. Neither did Africans in the past. So, where do we get this? Whose culture is it, anyway?

Post burial, the bereaved family would historically remain together at home, to comfort and console each other for a while. Now we have the after-tears parties... yet another expensive event. This too never happened in the passed. Again, whose culture is it?

Are we, Africans, remodeling our culture, with regard to handling of both the bereavements and our deceased? Is this the way it should be? When your last day come, how would you prefer to be buried?

Personally, I prefer the cheapest funeral for myself, and I don't need to be kept in the morgue for long. For me, I see no reason why my family should spend the money that they don't have on me, when I'm dead. I also don't believe in wreath, as much as I don't believe in flowers now.

Now, this is MY culture!

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