A forth night ago, the news trending on social media, Facebook of course, was a huge joke about a Nigerian of south-eastern origin, who buried his late dad in an unusual coffin – a BMW X5 SUV. It was waved off as a huge joke, which it was.
Take Igbos for example. Igbos believe in funeral, which is a profound rite of passage to the great beyond. Their belief is ideological. Simple! Although the two major Christian sects south-eastern Nigeria stepped in to tame the tide of funeral cost, the problem still persists. And that’s one big problem with an ideology. Most dioceses pegged the time limit to funeral at 2months; others at one month.
But folks went around it and devised some means. They delay obituary announcements or tell lies, when they report the date of demise of relatives. They do these in order to gain mileage in days, in order to prepare adequately for what they call ‘‘befitting funeral’’, of which ‘‘proper burial’’ is part of. Igbos believe that the tumult a funeral generates paves way for a secured place in ‘‘the land of the ancestors’’.
The use of canon shots during the last office and during Igbo traditional funeral, before the church stepped in, is to scare evil spirits from incarnating the body and to provide a gallant transition. It is part of the ‘‘promo’’, as we say in local parlance.
An Igbo man is ruled by one passion and one passion only: to be among the greatest men in his community. And when he dies, to belong to the revered ranks of ancestors, which Christians call saints. This is his life wire and the whole essence of his existence. Igbo man does everything to achieve this. First, in all his life’s dealings, he must uphold Ofo and Ogu, which is Igbo man’s will power to do well and remain upright. A man who does this also is blessed with material things of life. Igbo man loves it all. In the material plane, there is a broad assessment of such a man, but first he must prove himself to mankind – his community. He must ‘‘hold his head’’ amongst his kinsmen. He must merit and take titles.
So for Igboman, the two extremes, Birth and Death, are very important. Both are interwoven in a cyclic process of rebirth – since reincarnation will attract heated debate. Although he is an unconscious partaker in his birth and death, he remains the ‘‘cynosure’’ of all eyes. He is in direct contact with his ancestors through psalmic and intercessory invocation. Many a friend have lamented that the reason non Igbos are unable to invest directly in Igboland is because Igbos are unwilling to sell their land. Igbos give excuse that their lands belong to their ancestors. Many countrymen and women who don’t understand this Igbo theology still criticise them. It is in agreement with other known beliefs.
Although I have deliberately not given an in-depth explanation on Igboman’s funeral essence and its implications, the little insight does not diminish him yet, assuming anyone sees the belief as absurd. Absurd or not, it couldn’t be more absurd than the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis, when Eve couldn’t stand any longer the naivety of Adam. She bonked her man, but instead of tell the real gist, we were told of Apples, Serpents and those who suddenly found themselves naked. So if you could deal with such story, then deal with Igbo’s staunch and legitimate belief. Simple!
The foregoing ‘‘exegesis’’ still doesn’t blindfold us, when there is an existential ill in the society, of which the churches have attempted to cure.
And this is my main gist: One Azubuike should be arrested, jailed or given a community service. That’s, if we still have character or order in our small world.
The Wednesday, June 13, 2018, issue of the Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom carried a nauseating story. It was reported with befitting headline, ‘‘BMW in peace’’, ‘‘Wheel meet again’’. I was full of indignation. My face was ashen-red with shame, when a white colleague of mine pointed it out to me. The incident happened in Nigeria. The BMW X5 machine cost the ‘‘devoted son’’ £66,000.00 to bury his father in a stylish send-off. Azubuike is his name. He hails from a poverty-stricken rural village in Ihiala in Mbosi, Anambra State. And it would be his ultimate shame if the SUV wasn’t wired with satnav to help his father find his way to heaven. According to report, similar madness had happened in Enugu, when a billionaire buried his dad in a brand new Hummer.
It is quite possible that poverty and sickness smoothed the mouths of these dead relatives while alive. Yet they were given a misplaced funeral at death in the name of a befitting burial. A fictitious story of a courageous man, a good example, was once told. This man, who was faced with misfortune, was told that it was because he didn’t give his late dad a befitting burial. The ancestors were angry. He in turn requested that they should report back to his dad if he ever owned more than a chick talk much a cow while alive. His brazen response surprised his people. The absurdity of Igbo belief is only when a befitting burial is misplaced to an unbefitting relative, or, when it is total lost, as with Azubuike and his show of shame. The terms of befitting burial, according to Igbo tradition, is in terms of the worthiness of the departed. Not the affluence of their survivors.
Meanwhile, as for befitting burial, Igbos will continue to give it! I support.
A society must have character and order, derived from its essence. In 2011, as I arrived Heathrow airport, a daily tabloid carried a story of a juvenile diligent – UK’s equivalent of Azubuike, who jumped over a parked Lamborghini Countach in Chelsea neighbour in London. Lamborghinis are dwarf but costly machines. The young boy so much as undervalued it, that he had to jump over it the way athletes jump over hurdles. He was promptly arrested for showing no respects and for his nuisance value. Here is a society with order and character – discipline.
We can no longer stand beside and watch. One of the reasons why we intend to participate in the political life our people is to bring back sanity to an already rattled society. As you have already known – unless you are not of this world or on vacation to the Mars, Imo Network Group (ING) is separating the ‘‘wheat from the chaff’’. The group wants to give Ndi Imo the best they deserve. The group is profiling and shortlisting the best possible candidates, irrespective of political party affiliations, in a resource pool.
This resource pool will be published weekly in a widely circulated newspaper in Imo State. Indeed the tabloid will be the real cynosure of all eyes, unlike Igbo dead and their funerals. Ndi Imo will have the chance to make an informed decision and election, which have eluded them ever since ‘‘the pope was an altar boy’’.
We have begun. We are giving hope and then taking back our life, which has already been undervalued by many years of evil machinations by politicians. We intend to make laws, which will promote the sense of common humanity. A sense of common denominator, which is mankind.
It is indeed absurd to brag about Sanchos shoes before the lame and to brag about Prada sunglasses before the blind. It is even worse and abominable to make a BMW coffin in a community, where poverty has smoothed people mouths and smallpox: their skin jackets. Whereas it is everyone’s right to enjoy this life, we must not scandalise the weak. This is a golden rule in societies, which have thrived. It is all about the cardinal point: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. Man is man because of other men.
We shall indeed gain our life back.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org