Final resting place

In diaspora, I have seen different ways in which people choose the last resting place for their loved ones.

A few years a go, an elder man who had lived in the UK for about 50 years went back home for a visit. He was from my town. During his trip, he fell ill and passed away, the man was said to be in his late 70s. His children were not very familiar with home so they made an arrangement for their father’s corpse to be repatriated back to the UK for burial. He had pre-existing health condition known to his family so paperwork was easy to sort out.

This incident was a new twist to the popular way in which I heard many Africans  especially first generation immigrants in the UK deal with deceased family members.

The ones I have heard is people in diaspora sending corpse of parents back home for final burial. This BBC article shows how trendy repatriation of corpse amongst Africans.

In this article, a Ghanaian had to crowd fund in order to afford the costs to send his uncle’s body back home, he did so due to family pressure.

Another lady said she had to bow to family pressure of repatriating her husband’s corpse to Zimbabwe, even when she knew it would’ve been better to bury him in the UK where she could visit graveyard as often as she is pleased.

News of Nigerians taking body of family members to be buried back home is quite common here in the UK, many people prefer it that way.

Then I think about home where significant number of people have left their villages and small towns to settle in the city. How do these people deal with the corpse of loved ones? Were they buried where they had worked and have homes or do they insist on taking the corpse back to the village where only few (if lucky) remember them?

Looking at a few examples, different patterns emerge. My mom’s younger brother settled in Lagos in the 70s on his return back from schooling in Canada (good old days when jobs await returnees) so decided Lagos was the place to put his root.

So when he passed away a few years ago, the children and his widow decided Lagos is the most appropriate place to bury their father and husband, it is the place he had his home and had raised his family. Extended family from home with no question asked were happy to make the trip to Lagos for the final burial and Owambe.

In other words, people in Nigeria often have no problem being buried in Lagos state even when they see other state as their ancestral home. This is likely to be true for the Yorubas.

Conversely, a few months ago, my sister’s mother inlaw passed away. She was in her mid 90s. When I asked my brother inlaw where his mother will be buried, he said ‘home’. ‘Where is home?’ I asked.

The ‘home’ that his mother wanted to be buried at was not Ife the town she has lived at for 70 years, definitely not Lagos the place she died at and not even her husband’s town. Her wish was to be buried in her birth town infront of her house. The wish that her children honoured.

Beliefs around burial and final resting place is fascinating. Everyone seems to have strong opinion to support beliefs they hold dear.

No, I am not dying but I found this topic very interesting and a lot less depressing than Nigeria politics of these days.

Categories: Family, Nigeria

Tags: , ,

9 replies

  1. Fola, you know when Shakespeare wrote the story, Much Ado About Nothing, probably the title would have equally befitted what people want after they are dead.
    People in different parts of the world who see the vanity and futility in large investments in burials and funeral ceremonies are doing things differently- donating organs to the needy living, cremating their remains and living a legacy rather than adding to the litany of tomb places and tombstones.
    The truth is the concept of “final” here, is ultimately temporary is the long stretch of thr whole spectrum of time. Perhaps it is true that man came from the earth and, perhaps dust will return to dust. Dust, by the way, is a nomadic element.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by.

      ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ indeed.
      The organ donating idea would undoubtedly benefit great number of people dying needlessly especially if the procedure can be done in the country to reduce traveling cost.

      We will get there, one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting topic Fola. If my husband goes before me, he will be cremated and his ashes will go in a very large urn. When I go our children have been instructed to cremate me and put my ashes in the same urn. The urn is to be buried in a little cemetery where my grandparents, aunts and uncles and my father lies. I bought 4 plots many years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: