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Funeral ceremonies : Are we mourning or celebrating?

By Chukwudi Anagbogu (08063305177)

I nearly fought a friend of mine whose late father's burial I attended. I am not the type that sheds crocodile and deceptive tears at such ceremonies, only to end up with a plate of rice and a bottle of wine moments later. I show sympathy in practical terms. What caused my ire was the lavish spending and squandermania that was evident at the ceremony. To start with, the casket was made of pure gold! That day I saw for the first time, a temporary shed (canopy) fitted with air conditioners, with professional 'ask me' ladies guiding every guest to comfortable seats. There were assorted types of meals and drinks, and by the time the guests went back home, there was surplus left ;some were disposed of in the trash bin. Ordinarily there is no big deal organising such 'a festival ' of a burial, but considering that what killed the man was a medical condition that only a hundred thousand naira would have solved, it made my heart bleed. According to my friend, before they could borrow the money needed for the treatment from an 'isusu operator', the dad had given up. When I probed further to know how they were able to bankroll such an expensive burial ceremony within a month of his father's demise, or was there any form of 'money ritual '? He shrugged his shoulders and told me that the multi-million naira funeral was sponsored by his well to do uncles ;the same uncles who refused to render financial assistance when his father was ill!
People are loved only when they die.
The above story vividly captures a replica of what is obtainable in our societies today; the sudden show of affection and love when someone loses a beloved. For someone to refuse to cough of a hundred thousand naira to foot a relative's medical bills, only to donate one million naira to foot the person's funeral is an unpardonable act. But such is life.
To lose a beloved one, no matter the age is a difficult pill to swallow. But while some actually show sympathy and offer genuine assistance to the bereaved, many others throng burial ceremonies to 'dine and wine.'
While the rich are free to spend as lavishly as they wish on burial ceremonies, the average person should spend wisely and frugally, in order not to be broke after the rites. Funny enough, a lot of people who expect to recoup their expenses from the proceeds of the funeral, get disappointed, as people no longer spend carelessly like before. More often than not, people who borrow to fund the burial ceremonies of their loved ones, spend their life time paying debts!
Death calls for mourning, not merriment,except of course you want to express joy on the person's death. It is not an 'ofala festival' where u eat and drink as u like. I don't believe in the concept of 'befitting burials.' What makes a burial befitting is not the amount of money spent on it, but the organization and fulfilment of the basic burial rites of the deceased.
The best way to handle the death of a great person is by immortalizing such a person, as well as living the legacies of the person, and not by spending fortunes on the deceased's burial ceremonies.
What do you need a golden casket for? Will it take the person to heaven? Will conveying the corpse in a convoy of hummer jeeps, limousine and Rolls Royce raise the person's profile before God? I support refreshment, but it should be minimal. Let us channel our resources wisely.

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