NEWS END OF JUNE 2014
A recent Funeral . . .
It took about 5 hours to get transport organised, until eventually 14 people squeezed in a minibus with the coffin on top set off on the 50 miles (or so) journey. This was to the ancestral land of the deceased, where he was to be buried. About a mile from our destination our singing, that we had continued all 50 miles, was abruptly interrupted by loud wailing by some fellow passengers. The driver started beeping his horn loudly and frequently, while slowing down to a fast walking pace. Women particularly (plus some men) from both sides of the road ran towards us, ahead of us, behind us, shouting, crying, wailing, running, often carrying babies, distraught, some reaching up to the coffin … The last 100 yards the coffin was carried by hand to a now crowded noisy homestead.
Because the deceased (b 1973) had lived away from home, there was only one house in the homestead, in which his very-poorly father lived alone. Fortunately a tent had been set up. After a stroll we settled there waiting for supper, which was ready about 10.00pm. Meanwhile some men were building a temporary house alongside us. The distressed wife of the late asked for advice on what to do. The temporary house covered by a plastic sheet was for her to live in for four days after the burial to fulfil ritual requirements as ‘wife’ of the deceased. She didn’t want to do this, so the temporary house was de-constructed.
After supper, time for singing and preaching came. The loud music playing was turned off, and we had a microphone and speakers at our disposal. As I shared my message, more and more of the 150 plus heads present gradually dropped . . . A more lively local preacher followed me, who was better at keeping people awake. Even he in due course lost people! About 2.00am we called it a day. I resigned myself to spending the rest of the night sitting on that chair . . . only to be surprised to be called with my colleagues, about 8 of us men, to sleep on the floor of a neighbouring house. That was a relief! (We had a grass mat and mattresses on the floor.) Strangely, about 3.30am a couple came, were let in, and walked around us where we slept. The fellow who came left his girl (girlfriend, wife???) sleeping next to us as he went, then came back to collect her half hour later. I guess he had expected to find our house empty?
The next morning the funeral service due to start at 9.30am got going at 11.20am. We finally finished the burial about 4pm. Before that, many testified re. the late, but perhaps the most time consuming was our preacher who worked hard to get a crowd of people on their knees in front of us to be prayed for for release from troublesome demons. After a good feed, we set off, this time by public transport, back home.
In case some folks did not get the end of May news, please see here for an archive of all my bimonthly news shots, back to 2002.
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