Questioning the illusion of burying the dead in Nigeria

December 28, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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John Chizoba Vincent



Why do people spend so much money for funerals? Why do we honour people more when they are dead than when they were alive? We build houses, we re-paint the old house, we repair the Zinc, we build more rooms and repair the damaged toilet and do some other things, whereas when this gentleman and woman were alive, you could not afford to give him/her one naira to buy drugs to get himself or herself treated.


On that day when he/she is dead, you kill the fattest cow, you gather whole bags of rice in Nigeria, you make the whole village bubble in the joy of things to eat and drink. What happened to this money when this man or woman was alive? Why didn’t you collect this loan to treat him/her? Why didn’t you create an opportunity to celebrate him/her? What kind of honour do you want to give him/her in the grave? We are all hypocrites!


I grew up seeing things that made me want to lose myself into the ocean of thought. Things that left me in dire need of someone to talk to. Things that were abnormal when weighed from left to right and back and forth. There are those I think of changing and those I think I would never change and those things I am fighting desperately to change.


I grew up in a city where every year or every December, people gathered their dead to be buried in the village or nearby where they deemed it fit for them to be buried. Some were buried in Aba Cemetery while others were taken to the village to be buried.


In Aba, everywhere is covered by funeral posters from October to November. Those who want to bury their dead in December and those who want to bury theirs by Easter start posting the posters around January or February just to create awareness to family members, friends and relations. It is more like the politicians who made a law in the country to avoid people pasting posters on walls of the cities and end up posting their election posters during their campaigns.


I grew up seeing posters everywhere in the cities of Abia state and its environs. I grew up trying to understand why it was like that but no one was there to explain to me. Some of these posters read “Gone so soon“, “Painful Existence“, “Transition to glory“, “Glorious home call” and so many other write ups. I grew up learning that the only time family members, those you’ve not seen for a thousand years, come home was only when someone very important died in the family and his or her funeral is fixed by Christmas or Easter.


My village decided to give time for these burials/funerals. Sometimes it could be from 20th December to 29th and beyond. Then, other dates could be for weddings and other ceremonies so that those that came to the village during Christmas to ‘rest’ would still have time to rest. Although, in Nkporo there is nobody travelling to the village during the Christmas to ‘rest’, you either have one family meeting to attend, funeral/burial ceremony, wedding or other things like that that engage you throughout this period.


You don’t go to the village during Christmas period to rest, you go there to exhaust yourself more. That is how it goes. As a result of this, many don’t travel or fix their ceremonies during the Christmas period because it is full of ceremonies. Things become more expensive, the roads become too busy and many more things happen during this festive period.


It’s a good thing to pay last respects to the dead, it is good to honour them but if you did not do so while they were alive, why honour them in death? Why spend so much money and time organising how they will be committed to mother earth? Is this not insanity? I have gone to a burial ceremony where a man was buried with a car and chains of gold but when he was alive he never drove any car as such. He never wore any gold chain, no, he never did. Some of us are hypocrites!


I have also gone to a burial where the woman was buried with a golden casket. There were up to fifteen canopies all over the place. Seven cows were killed. Her children came from home and abroad to bury her but when this woman was alive and admitted in the hospital, I remember that money was the issue for her treatment because her first son visited our family for money; it was lack of money that killed her. It was heartbreaking when I travelled down to the village for her burial to see how things went. Where did the money for this luxurious burial come from?


We are all victims of this, there are those people we never raised a pin for until when they were dead, you’ll start looking for how to honour them. You borrow money here and there in the name of paying your last respects! Why don’t you love or show them love when they are alive? There are those people out there that we never cared about, never visited and never showed mercy but when they are dead, we go the extra mile to make sure we honour them or give them a fitting burial; those things they never had when they were alive. Are you not a hypocrite?


Love people and show them that you love them, that is the best part of humanity, that is the best part of being a human. Love me when I’m alive, not in death.





John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a cinematographer, filmmaker, music video director, poet and a writer. A graduate of mass communication, he believes in life and the substances that life is made of. He has three books published to his credit which includes Hard Times, Good Mama, Letter from Home. For boys of tomorrow is his first offering to poetry. He lives in Lagos.

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