Not everything is bad about a bad situation

I feel as if I am Onkonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart. I am watching as Lockdown measures unravel and dismantle a lot of cultural values and tradition that we held true. This is the same tradition that was handed down to us by our fathers, and theirs to them. The one particular case that piqued my interest is that of funerals. In most South African cultures, it is a tradition that the corpse must arrive home on Friday evening for the burial on Saturday. It is also tradition that a cow must be slaughtered to feed the masses that will be in attendance of the funeral. Most people who find themselves in this unfortunate situation, tend to spend more than they should. There’s even a meme going around on social media mocking how we spend excessively on a dead person, when we failed to do so when the deceased was still alive. For those living below the bread line, means are made to “splash” on the funeral in a bid to give the dearly departued a “dignified” funeral and not be a laughing stock among the community. These means usually involve a loan that will take ages to pay off. I guess life is for the living, and so is debt! If you dared ask the elders why we carry on with this tradition, they summon their inner mandalorian and give you a “This is the way! ” for a response. Interestingly there has never been a situation where these traditional values have been tested, until now. The government, in a bid to slow the spread of Covid 19, has enforced that no more than 50 people should attend a funeral, and that the corpse must travel straight from the mortuary to the grave yard for burial. When these rules were first introduced, I thought there would some resistance from traditional leaders, but to my surprise, there was none! No resistance, absolutely nothing. How disappointing, I was expecting fireworks. Anyway, despite my disappointment, Funeral processions are carried out smoothly as per government regulations, and by my estimate, funeral expenditures have significantly dropped. Money is being spent on the absolute necessities rather on “funeral aesthetics”. The sky still hasn’t fallen on us. We are still alive and kicking. I haven’t read a report of the ancestors being angry at how the dead are being laid to rest. Maybe they are understand our situation? Or maybe another African truth has been shattered? I imagine this must be how Umuofia residents felt when the “evil Forrest” did not drive the missionaries away. On the flip side, it seems like the modernisation of the South African funeral has finally arrived. At long last. Hallelujah! Or has it? Whichever lense you view this with, I think you can agree with me that the financial relief will go a long way for affected families. My hope is that this practice continues beyond the lockdown. People must pay their respects to the living, not the dead! “The dead know nothing”. Life is for the living and all that pertains to life must be subjected to the living. Money, respect, and love are for the living.

Long Live Love!

2 thoughts on “Not everything is bad about a bad situation

  1. It would also be a great idea to shift the costly funeral cover that we pay premiums . Instead of having a funeral cover we can shift that to an educational trust or to a mortgage fund

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