It’s a shame: Death has been commercialised
This past weekend there were five funerals in the village part that I live. Men, women and youth thronged the homesteads and the graveyard where funeral rites were conducted. As I sat amongst men old and young, I could not help but recall the phobia that I had of death and all the funeral rites that followed. Through the ceremonies I watched the mannerisms and the accompanying conduct of everybody around. I recalled how revered these ceremonies were in my youthful days. The adult men sitting near me expressed concern over the current generation’s funerals and associated rituals. In the days when I was brought up certain things that are done were unheard of. The way people behaved was far different from that of the current generation. In the early days death (loso) was observed and conducted with much order and respect. The rituals associated with the burial ceremony were conducted with awe. These days things have changed. This time it would be unfair to blame the young people for the change in our practices. When I grew up then there were no mortuaries and funerals were done immediately. The ceremony was simple and conducted with less costs. Those of the family who were outside the village would always find the funeral done and completed. In the current era funerals have to be carried out after all the relatives and the entire extended have been informed. As they wait for the arrival of far-off relatives, there is a feeding and catering to the entire village. This is an extra burden on the family. In the days past, whatever catering and food preparations if any, were minimal and cheap. Whatever was prepared for the people was given to the deceased family. The whole village shared the processes leading to the burial. Death was a communal activity. This time things have changed. The funeral preparations and associated ceremonies have become very costly. The costs associated with death are far exhorbitant than those incurred by our parents. As families wait for a week or so before the actual burial it means they alone have to bear the burden. What has changed is the expense relating to the coffins and the use of marquees. The families have begun a culture of hiring all the other things that were not known as I grew up. Death has been commercialized. As the families want to do what the “Jones” do next door, people have been lured by insurance companies and mortuary operators to join schemes that will provide for all the necessities for a well-funded funeral. This has the tendency to stretch people’s budgets. There are no longer simple funeral ceremonies. What is even worse is that these modern funerals have also in a way become fashion shows. People come to the funerals dressed to kill and therefore unlike in the past many come there to show off their “labels” and the latest gadgets. The attendant burial activities at the graveyard are now a thing for the less privileged. The fashion mongers just look on from a distance while their heads are dipped into their phones. Yet these guys are the first to disregard protocol at feeding points once the burial has been concluded. Shame on us!