With Rev Canon Chinemerem Uche
Apart from the amount of money spent on printing brochure and cards during burials, the use of various colours of costumes and uniforms during burial has turned what is supposed to be a sorrowful, solemn event into a carnival. Hundreds of thousands of Naira is also spent on newspaper publication and obituary announcements and posters. Various musical and cultural groups are also hired to perform at the burial ceremonies. The irony of the whole burial ceremony is the scramble for food and souvenirs. The house or compound of the diseased few minutes after burial suddenly becomes a kind of food fair. People brazenly sit in canopies waiting to be served food and drinks. Others fight and quarrel over the inadequacy or quality of food. A recent entrant into the burial carnival of sort is the use of funeral pall bearers, who dress gorgeously, carrying the casket and dancing to the tune of the trumpets and band. This display makes one wonder if they bereaved are happy that one of their own has died.
There are people who all their lives never lived in a decent house or had their houses renovated, but as soon as they die, the leaking roof is repaired and the old house is tastefully renovated. If living in a decent well cleaned house will only be after my death for the purpose of my lying in state I rather prefer to make no money at all!
A man was seriously wailing and refused to be consoled after the death of his father. It was later discovered that he was not wailing because he was missing his father, he was rather wailing because he had no money to fund a lavish burial. Let me ask this question, must we eat at burials? Must we drink at burials? Must we wear uniforms or “ashebi” to honour the dead? Must we give out souvenirs? Must there be luxury ambulances? What will happen if somebody is buried with a low cost coffin? Will heaven fall if one uses ordinary bulletin for the burial ceremony? Will the dead person not rest in peace if cultural dancers and choral groups are not hired for the burial ceremony? Will the dead person reappear to do us “willy willy” (torment us) if we do not lie the person in state and simply go straight to the church for a service of songs?
The amount of money we spend on burial ceremonies can be channeled into empowering our young people. The most annoying result of some burial ceremonies is that the bereaved family after borrowing or selling their property to fund a burial carnival, end up living in debt and squalor. I went to a primary school in Owerri Munincipality only to discover that there are some pupils whose parents could not afford to buy exercise books for them. Buying the text book should not be imagined if someone cannot afford exercise books. Those who have money enough for lavish burial can channel their excess money towards helping children who cannot afford basic materials for studies. Imagine a fund that provides exercise books for less privileged children throughout their time in the primary school.
Finally my personal wish and desire is not to partake or fund a burial ceremony that is lavish and immodest. I will not in any way renovate or build a new house for a relation who is dead and whom I never helped to live well while alive. On my own part, I wish to be buried in the cheapest hygienic coffin. I wish that there will be no lying in state for me beyond the morgue. If there has to be, let it be a commendation service not lasting beyond an hour. I wish that no food or drink be served at my burial. I wish that a very simple bulletin be printed just for my service of songs. If I end up in life as a high ranking member of the society, I also wish to be buried between five days after I have been certified dead. On a lighter note, please do not bury me one day after my death because a dead man may not be dead after all. There are cases of people who woke up immediately they got to the mortuary.