Reassess funerals

Lavittude Ramphomane, Langa

African philosophy guru, spirituality connoisseur and the living repository of African history, customs, traditions and ways of life – Isanusi Credo Mutwa – once lamented how blacks in South Africans conduct burials these days.

The first problem he highlighted was that back in the day most African people buried the deceased a few hours after their deaths, and only slaughtered a cow in order to secure it’s husk (skin) for covering the body of the deceased in cases where the skin was not readily available.

In this particular instance, it was only then it was permissible to delay the burial by a day or so while the skin was being prepared for the burial.

After the funeral, mourners would then be invited to partake in the consumption of that cow meat.

In fact, this is why yesteryear folks would clean and preserve animal skin after slaughtering for a wedding or any other ceremony; or if that beast had died while it’s skin was still in good condition.

Now that the overwhelming majority of black folks use coffins to bury their deceased, why do they insist on slaughtering a cow and bury the deceased after more than five days?

Also, why do black folks insist on being buried in coffins and not in cow skin?

Judging by the large number of cows being slaughtered by big abattoirs every day, there would always invariably be large quantities of readily available cow skin for burials.

Needless to say, this would also mean less expenses during the funeral in storage of
the body, purchasing the cow, and the

Apart from blacks having adopted some of the white methods of burial, we have also made the funeral about the living and not the deceased.

This is why we cook food worth thousands for the mourners from the day the deceased dies up to their day of burial.

Blacks have this strange conviction that burying their deceased in a coffin delivered in a convoy of hearses, having thousands of mourners in attendance and burying the dead after approximately six days is burying someone with dignity.

But all this madness suits undertakers and insurance companies just fine because they secure top dollar from black people’s death.

There would be no need for funeral cover and all these obscene expenses blacks incur during funerals if we preserved and adhered to pre-colonial funeral arrangements and methods performed by our ancestors.

Incidentally, I’ve always loathed the thought that one day my body would be confined in a morgue for up to six days, and only to be cocooned into a coffin like I was some tool.

And most black folks brag about those wooden boxes because “burying people in coffins is being progressive and burying the dead in cow skin is backward”.

Just like everything else, embracing white innovations is “progressive” and adhering to the ways of our ancestors is “backward”.

If the funeral is about the dead and not the living, what difference will it make if mourners didn’t eat at the funeral; will the deceased go to hell?

How will thousands of people attending the funeral benefit the deceased? Will he or she be immediately be accepted into paradise after the burial?

How is being wrapped up in a husk/skin of a cow inferior to being buried in a
15 000-buck coffin?

Will the deceased get more likes or follows or retweets or tenders in hell or heaven?

But today funerals are about the remaining and not the leaving.