Do we let any wind carry us or we pick the one we follow? There's a girlie thing about 'naso them dey do am' (tradition), its attractiveness is as nippy as an office pin near a giant magnet. Like most things, it has a dark side and some colour to it. As per colour, there is this 'here-we-respect-our-elders' credit it possesses. The way it also permits us to fetch personhood from the tap our past to water our 'now' into a green future. Then, there's the dark region. The part that èpà don't chronicle stories about, Akowè won't scribble about, Osayomore dare not play flute about. Even auntie Ewaen has never gossiped about. That part we rather leave untouched because…we know little or nothing about it.
There are those who argue that we jettison the entirety of 'how they did it' and go for new ways. Well, I disagree. I think we should bring it forward and edit it. We don't need a sword to either protect or cut off the status quo. What we need is a brush and a pair of scissors to sometimes polish or at other times cut ties with it. Believe me, When you understand the science of progress, a lot of kpalava is resolved.
I asked Alama (not real name) why we so much break out pockets and safes for funeras. She looked into space as one looking at the multicoloured poster of 'Ikenna; the blind warrior' for what seem like a minute. Then she abruptly replied, "it's how we pay last respect here". Well, our last respect is a little too expensive don't you think? If the dead could act, they'd slap us out of our burial-celebratory-mode into the mourning-realizing-that-we-are-dust-mode.
Now, every thursday, you would hear screeching of tires as though formula 4 is next door. But you'd find out that a family is trying to bury a loved one and so, thought it frugal enough that neighbours do not have peace. Well, the neighbours don't mind as long as the noise births take-away packs, beverages and souvenirs. A lot of return-from-mortuary gyration have led to accident that led to death that will later led to another gyration. Note here that gyration is like appetizer to the main course-OBITO. Burial is business now as families sell Ankara as though it's kilishi. It's common nowadays to here things like "Epa, My elder brother don die, dis nah the second cloth wey we carry for the burial. The party nah Saturday" How about the owambe and obito rockers who now take burials as food fare and saturdays as a lucky day.
Iye no khua died 5 months ago of what the doctors described as heart failure. We all know what killed IYe…neglect! Her remains has since been the deposited in Gods Care Mortuary, while the family prepare for breathtaking burial. The afore disjointed family has been forced into halfhearted cooperation…for Iye's sake. Osakpamwan, the first son and second child has since issued order from Netherland (backed with some Euro of course) that what is now left of the sagging building that was once the residence of Iye be renovated and painted white. 'They need to know that Iyè's children are well off' he said.
Iye's first daughter, Imatitikua was the picture D'banj had in mind when he said 'importer, exporter, cocoa water!'. She had prayed two years earlier when Iye first fell sick that God should keep her alive. Not out of love as you would naturally want to think, but because her Dubai business just started off. The business was too young to survive a burial. But now, Iye died at the right time, "I can now give my mother a befitting burial" she boasted.
The other six children soon arrived from different parts of the country. The budget for the burial was 3.5 million Naira. This, of course includes the list from the oka-egbe (the head of the extended family) who see burial as a form of seasonal employment opportunity to sift as much goodies as possible. After splitting the budget, Imatitikua being the eldest took the highest. Only her and Osakpamwan could afford their share, the other 6 had to borrow to make up and look good.
The burial ceremony surpassed their expectation, all 31 canopies where filled up with many more standing. This confirmed what Felix the last born said a day before, "make we only invite those wey fit spray oh, the rest go somehow come". 3 band played. Everyone ate, drank, gossiped, fought and took away. Everybody applauded them. " This burial tough pass that Pa. John Ode own last week o" a 'professional burial analyst' commented. The burial was done, everybody was smiling, Iye's was gone, the children were indebted, life continued.
Iye's death had brought crocodile tears, new Ankara, artificial unity and longterm debt.
But how could Iye's children have done differently? Was that not the way everybody does it? You see, I get the whole 'last respect part'. But, whatever happened to burial ceremony being solemn? It should be a time where we see the remains of our loved ones remind that we share the like fate. I believe we didn't start out like this. Even if we did, maybe it is time we stopped.
If you have been saving for any OBITO, just go and invest in a business and stop disturbing the dead and living with this craze.
Enough! Burial is not an investment opportunity, it is a time of mourning and reflection.