BURYING THE DEAD IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CARING FOR THE LIVING IN SOME PARTS OF NIGERIA | Article by John Chizoba Vincent
"The man that buried his father with cow
and the man that buried his father with hen,
each did according to their ability". Igbo Proverb.
The chaos and havoc experienced in some families when sharing what a dead man leaves behind can be very alarming and disturbing especially if the dead was wealthy or an influential person in the country or when he dies leaving no will to the children. Even if he did have, the uncles, aunties, mothers, kindred, clan members and many other relatives won't allow those whom the properties are willed to have peace of mind until there is chaos in the family concerning sharing of the willed.
Even if the father has nothing, his clothes sometimes might cause trouble among his children and some of his relatives especially in a polygamous family.
I'm a witness of this. I have seen an individual kill his brother because of their late father's property. I have witnessed a sister who made her own brother mad (through the use of juju) because of their late father's properties. The list goes on and on.
My mother always told us that there is no gain fighting over the properties of a dead man.
...My mother always told us that there is no gain fighting over the properties of a dead man.
During the sharing of these properties, you come to realize that your uncle with one leg can actually fight better than those with two. You will see that that your blind aunt can see better than those with wide eyes. You come to realise that salivating on someone's face is normal and the custom and tradition of your village accepts such.
When someone dies, the family gathers to plan for the burial, that is when they will know that the leakking roof needs to be replaced, the cracked walls need to be fixed, the floor needs to be tiled, the curtains needs to be replaced then finally the walls need to be painted.
It's during burial that your family worth are measured by outsiders, if they perceive your family to be rich, they'd want to see a colourful and expensive ceremony on that day but if the funeral does not get that big enough to their taste, it shows that your family isn't rich or among the well-to-do in the society.
If your family is poor, they already know that they would be the one to contribute for the coffin and drinks, food and palm wines, but bear it in mind for that withany single help from the kinsmen from your clan, you must not talk any how to your fellows either in the village or outside the village because if you misbehave or talk to anyone of those who helped to finance your father's burial any how, they will remind you how they contributed to bury your father and how you could not bury your father and this, would definitely be a shame on your own side. And this kind of statement can make the man in you to fold into scramble of papers. Some people know what I'm saying.
--if you misbehave or talk to anyone of those who helped to finance your father's burial any how, they will remind you how they contributed to bury your father and how you could not bury your father and this, would definitely be a shame on your own side--
"When my father died on the 30th of October 1998, being the first son; I summoned a meeting with the elders of my place; after a very long meeting, "the expenses for the funeral was above 1 million naira," said one of my neighbors to me when we were discussing this issue. I'm a listener and most of the things I write about are from those things I listened to and observed from people.
"Why should it cost so much for a funeral in Nigeria? More advanced countries don't spend one-tenth of what we spend here." He continued.
It is very important to throw an expensive funeral to pay the last respect to our loved ones but that should not be done while the living is hungry, miserably tattered and confused.
Let the dead be honored but not to the detriment of the living; who still have a future to go for and not to the detriment of those who still live on the surface of the earth.
It is not only the money that you are being charged by the kindred that matter but also some other expenses that will arise during this funeral. It is another way of making money in many parts of Nigeria especially in the Eastern part of Nigeria. It is another means of fighting and arguing over who takes this or that from the man's belongings after the burial. It is another means to kill one another over another man's sweat.
Some people get killed during this time and some are injured by others. I could remember when one of my In-laws died, his people (clansmen) came to the late's house and packed all his belongings not excluding a common pin (anything). They didn't leave anything for the woman to take care of the four kids the man left behind.
It is very disheartening when you see a situation like this. Is sharing a dead man's property better than taking care of his children?
For example, When you see a core Igbo native buried outside his village, then there definitely are issues to be settled within the families in the village because the money the elders or his clan could have collected from his children or relations, they didn't collect it. It is very obvious, and these, we need to stop. Those elders should not be demanding much before a person would be buried in his home town.
--They didn't leave anything for the woman to take care of the four kids the man left behind.--
Perhaps all these burial expenses came up because many of these people have been to their friends' families and seen how burial celebrations are done and inviting them to their own family would mean putting all those things in place if not, those coming for the burial will go home ashamed considering the kind of expensive life they have in the city.
Sometimes, I don't see it working that way. Once someone is dead, I think the right thing to do is to commit him or her to mother-earth rather than making unnecessary expenses which leaves people in debt eventually.
However, in the Igbo culture or tradition, if you don't bury your late father at home, your mates will one day laugh at you that your kinsmen can't locate where your father was buried and that will definitely make you a lesser man or makes you feel like an outcast amidst your people, aslso in some part of the Igbo society, they are some titles that you can not be given as a successful man later in the future when your father is not buried in his home town or buried properly.
The culture of excessive spending during burial is a cause for worry in our society, especially at low financial times like we are in now. People should consider the living, those who need the money more are alive and not dead.
'Nawaoh days, it is a time to know which family is really rich and those that are poor and oppressed. You have to spend and get your lips and pocket ripped off just to satisfy the curiosity of many especially the kindred.'
One of my neighbors once told me that he lost two mothers within the same month; his mother and paternal grand mother in 2016 and for reasons based on fulfilling customs, traditions and meeting the conditions spelt by their families, he had to bury them in 2018. He had to borrow! He had to borrow money to meet up the standard of funerals in his village. Those elders don't even care if you recover the money or not but the truth of the matter is that you have to settle many things so that the funeral can hold in the village. Frankly, when I think of burials, I envy the Muslims with their culture of burial, they are great with that. They are absolutely sensible in that aspect
It is no longer a hidden fact that some Igbos particularly those from Anambra and some people from Abia do not conduct funerals to make loss anymore, yes, they do not. Some strategies and methods are always in place on how to cover expenses. The ceremonies are conducted in such a way that a painful or funeral profit is made from invited guest from families, relatives, brothers and sisters and other far distant friends of the children. The worst expectation is a break-even because of the amount of money spent in the funeral.
--Frankly, when I think of burials, I envy the Muslims with their culture of burial--
Just know that in many cases, loans are taken with lands pledged as collateral and most often, properties are sold to fund a funeral in some parts of Nigeria. And after the burial, the children start paying for the debt they incurred.
Wouldn’t it be stupid for one to make a loss or lose the collateral by making a loss in the funeral? So these days, going to some funerals, your pocket must be filled with money else, you would be seen as someone else.
You now understand why no sympathizer is entertained in some funerals until he or she presents the monetary or gifts equivalent to his/her sympathy to the bereaved family. Yes, it is specially strategized and principled to that so that you don't just come and eat rice, stew and chicken without leaving something tangible behind.
No one would drop anything and expect to be given food or beer and gifts worth more than others who have given in a funeral ceremony.
Burying a dead man is more expensive than caring for the living in my home country!