I was gladdened by the news that the Anambra State's House Of Assembly recently passed a BILL TO CONTROL BURIAL AND FUNERAL CEREMONIES IN THE STATE. This bill, sponsored by Honourable Charles Ezeani, the member representing Anaocha II constituency, to me is a very welcome development, seeing as the activities surrounding burials and funerals have been taken to a ridiculous level in the state. I should know, as an Anambrarian who buried his father three years ago, where the burial on a Thursday, was followed by funeral activities that lasted till Monday of the next week. I don't know how much of impeding on the rights of people this bill will amount to when it is eventually signed into law but I think only some aspects of it may be challenged for its legality in the future. The fact that even amongst some localities, towns and villages in Anambra State, laws have been made to repeal age-long traditions as regards burials and funerals suggests that the intervention at the level of the state's legislature couldn't have come at a better time. I think this intervention must've followed the slow pace of compliance in the towns and villages where laws have been made to streamline burials and funerals in a bid to make it less cumbersome for the people, without recording much success or change in attitudes. This must've been in response to frustrations by those who wish to see change, and have chosen this means to effect change, seeing as other options have apparently failed. The reduction in the length of time a body should be in the morgue in Anambra from "infinity" to just two months is commendable. I once wrote about my townsman who was in a morgue for thirty years (https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/why-it-took-thirty-years-to-bury-my-townsman/), such that by the time his body was picked up to be interred finally, it was so far removed from what a body for burial could've looked like. This man's carcass was usually stood upright by the side of one of the rooms in the morgue, all because of a feud between members of his family that prevented the burial. This bill, if passed into law will ensure that the likes of the situation above, either because of family feuds, or because the bereaved want to wait till such a time as they can afford a flamboyant burial and funeral for the deceased, will become a thing of the past, Touching on so called "befitting funeral" for the deceased, I'm aware that many villages and towns, via organizations and associations of their people at home and abroad, in Anambra have intervened in a bid reduce costs of burials. In fact, in my town the only way anyone can host an extravagant funeral for the dead, is when s/he must've paid the fine, or else the family must follow the laid down rules of hosting a funeral that's devoid of the pomp and pageantry usually associated with burials in Anambra. I'm talking about those kind of burials and funerals that make the living, envy the dead, enough to long to be dead. A lot of families have become bankrupt, sons putting heirlooms, land and other property on sale just to grant the dead, a one-of-a-kind burial and funeral. On closer scrutiny, it isn't impossible to find that that some of the dead who get buried with flamboyance and extravagance, weren't bothered about, in terms of care in all ramifications while they lived. On this issue however, I feel that it may take more than just legislation to change attitudes in this direction, in fact when something similar was enacted in my village, it was the women who were at the Igwe's palace to protest. They queried the Igwe-in-council on the propriety of not allowing their children to give them a befitting burial. https://www.instagram.com/idavaeromocele/p/BsSc3F0Bh18/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1tkmw2hyhx67k I didn't allow the shaving of head to be a thing, during my father's burial. I remember that my step-grandmother had her head shorn of hair after my grandfather died. As a Jew, it was against our faith to cut the hair, or do anything to our bodies, as a mark of mourning a beloved one lost to the cold hands of death. Once I explained my stand to my people, they did not object, as it appears that I wasn't the first to have objected to that part of the tradition in my village. Apparently, many others before me had in the time between my grandfather's death more than twenty years ago, to when my father died three years back, managed to dull animosity towards those who are reluctant to follow the mourning protocols such as cutting the hair, wearing black mourning attire for a year, while sitting on ash, as regards widows. The tradition as regards mourning is skewed unfavourable against women, and I think it's commendable that this bill was midwifed at a time the speaker of Anambra State's House Of Assembly is a woman, in the person of Honourable Mrs. Rita Mmaduabu. My mom, had to mourn my dad for a year, though away from the village, as I had every member of the immediate family leave within a week of my dad's burial for our different locations in Nigeria, and she only returned a year after to "remove" (comes with a little ceremony) her mourning attire. The New bills' stipulation for mourning to be concluded within a period of one week is laudable and deserving of commendation, as before now only widows truly mourned, while mourning for widowers is such that is just to "fulfil all righteousness", without the strict control, including of movement that usually accompanies mourning by widows. As for the number of days in which a funeral is to take place, I doubt that the restriction to just one day, as authorized by this bill, will work. The Igbo man/woman is a member of many parts besides and beyond his family. When he dies, all of those parts must be satisfactorily met and be made to participate in the man's/woman's burial. It is not possible that all of the "meeting and participation" will and can be achieved within a day, hence the Igbo allocate certain days for which the groups the deceased, and members of his family belong to are to be entertained, and none of these groups come to see the bereaved empty handed. This is one part of this bill I think will be challenged heavily, and even if it remains unchanged, may not be heeded to by my fellow Anambrarians. It shouldn't have been part of the bill in the first place in my estimation, even though it shouldn't discountenance the good intention behind the bill as a whole. In all, I love the idea that age-old traditions are now being challenged. The notion of ascribing to the divine things having to do with culture and tradition, as if these were not made in tandem to the demands of the times of yore, should continue be discarded and abandoned. Until our culture, traditions and norms are made to be sensitive to the dictates of our time and civilization, we cannot beat our chest and say we are civilised. It is true that without our culture and traditions, we lose our identity, but an identity that is steeped in backwardness and dehumanization (especially of a widow following the death of her husband) is uncivilized, that is why culture must be subject to review as often as required by those who own it, or it will suffer the fate of the likes that abhorred change. 'kovich PICTURE CREDIT: - Jalou Funerals THE IGBO AND FUNERALS (8) https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/the-igbo-and-funerals-8/

Published by m'khail madukovich