Burial burden

Nkosiyabo Mpolongwana, Langa

Have you ever noticed that death in black townships is about the living and not the deceased?

This is why they even throw a party after a funeral.

With regards to whites, Muslims and rural blacks, death is about the dead, and not the living. I mean, how do you explain keeping a dead person for more than six days before the burial?

About 15 years ago, I read some piece where Credo Mutwa (guru on African spirituality) expressed dismay at this “culture” of slaughtering a cow and cooking food for the funeral. Mutwa argued that not only is this practice unAfrican, but he also pointed out that it placed an unnecessary financial burden of the family of the deceased.

However, his opposition to slaughtering a beast or two for the funeral is based on the belief that, in the good old days before Satan and his army of demons colonised us, we buried our dead on the same day they died or after a day; and that a beast was only slaughtered for the purpose of the skin which was used to wrap the body of the deceased as a show of respect.

The meat of the cow would then be cooked and served to the mourners, who would partake in the meal consumption to ensure than none went to waste.

Now, in cases where cow skin was readily available, there was no need to slaughter. This is why after weddings and other ceremonies where a cow was slaughtered, the skin was kept for future use; and this future use was the funeral.

Now that black folks from townships and suburbs are using coffins, why do they insist on slaughtering? Whose culture is that; that is, to slaughter and use a coffin for burial? Ask even the most hardcore of black culture advocates why black people insist on burying their dead with coffins, and he’ll mumble an incoherent answer. Why have blacks quit using animal skins for burial because Muslims, just one example, still bury their dead the same way they did (minus a coffin)
1 400 years ago?