This post was motivated by a fleeting remark I made in the post preceding this one.About the absurd length of time funerals take in my home country,Lesotho. So here goes;
First, You lose your beloved.Your head still reeling with the loss, pain in you heart, in your head and jelly in your knees.Trying to make sense of the loss and how to move beyond the now. If you will ever be able to deal with, let alone accept the loss.
Next come in the neighbours, friends,relatives.Everyone gathers by your side in show of support for your loss.By gathering I mean serious take-over-your-house-and-life-kind-of-gathering. Relatives come from afar to stay at your house and literally take over.Move your furniture about, savagely eat your food and move into your bedroom and your bathroom. The next thing you know, the whole house is full of people sleeping any and everywhere, from the kitchen floor to the living room floor. Basotho are renowned for wearing blankets even in the heat.And no, this is not a myth (sadly), it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….. We are a blanket wearing nation, proudly so.
In the days following the death, not much gets done, except the elder men of the clan planning on the when’s and the how’s.A process which can take forever where the elder of the famly may not be around to make and own the decisions.If such an elder is not nearby, maybe in the mines working as was majorly in the past, nothing can go on and be decided upon, until and unless he arrives and gives the decisions his blessings.This can take weeks if not months.Meantime those really feeling the loss, the spouse and the kids cannot move on until they have taken their beloved to their final resting place.
In the weeks between the death and the burial, people come in and go out of your house, to show their support. The ones that are there morning, noon and night are fed by you.From your own bereaved pocket. Day in-day out.
Usually during the last week before the burial, a prayer session is held in the early evenings, at the home of the deceased.After 30 minutes to an hour of prayer and worshipping, depending. What do we do again? We eat. In the golden years, people used to be given motoho (porridge) which was a staple in every Mosotho household. Of late, living in the cities, we offer muffins/scones and fruit juice or ginger beer instead.
On the day of the burial, the programme starts at 10am normally.Except in more recent times, the educated city dwellers may, just may start with the proceedings at maybe 7, maybe 8 or even 9 am.There’s no rush, this is Africa. We take time to bury our beloved.
The programme will normally be conducted by an uncle, either respected and cherished or some random loud mouth uncle who just has to be heard, and who will more often than not, spend half the time on the “podium” telling us who he is, how he knew the deceased and how close they were with the departed….eeeeeer, lies!!!!
Now for the program itself, this is normally the list of people to speak;
Nephews & Nieces,
Morena (the local chief)
Mind you all these people, like the self important uncle above will be blowing their own horns, saying little about the departed. With the local chief finishing off the programme by none other than reprimanding his followers.Discussing vilagge issues like stock theft, unturned fields and lack of discipline by the youth. Mind you some of us, most of us are from way out of the village, from the cities.We have driven for kilometres to come to the funeral, only to be embroiled in village issues. Issues that could have been discussed another day.
From the proceedings,we proceed to the graveyard, the whole nine yards, from where we go to the deceased’d home for more food. A slaughtered healthy bull DEFINITELY in the midst (a story for another post, hahahaha). Why so much food you ask?
Apparently because of the wealth of our forefathers,animals in their variety and numbers,and big expansive corn and wheat fields. Basotho believed in food and feeding their guests. So when a Mosotho offers you food, please do not decline, even if you are full.It is our way of showing you our deepest and sincere appreciation and acceptance of you. Food is what we know. Well, I do not promise that it will be to your culinary taste, but I can promise it will be prepared with lots of love and affection.
That ladies and gentlemen is how we spend our weekends at funerals in Lesotho, which may go some way in explaining my lengthy disappearances from the world wide web. Some actually believe that’s the way it should be…….”If you are going to bury someone, show and give them the last respect, by dedicating your entire day to them and thinking not of yourself”.
I beg to differ.