Costly black culture of extravagant funerals must change
BLACK funerals are becoming more expensive and extravagant with the years. I honestly think we should interrogate how we have been handling funerals in the black communities.
I attended a funeral in the North West province that gave me hope that it was possible to spend just enough for a funeral and the deceased will rest in lasting peace. At this particular funeral, we were served samp, tshotlho (beef), a veggie and a salad with a glass of juice.
That was it. Trust me, I was happily surprised. I thought to myself, this means it is possible. We are here to pay our last respects, to support those who lost their loved one and not to have a buffet or attend a food festival where food is the main focus of the day.
When I was in my early teens I vowed not to spend a lot of money on a funeral.
Even though family and my mom’s friends thought I was just being a child and I would grow up to “understand things better”, little did they know that as an adult today, I am more convinced now that I am not going to have an extravagant burial for any of my loved ones.
Over the years, from burying my grandpa when I was 11, to burying my grandma when I was 22, I saw the family buying so much food. I wished the food was for us to keep for the whole year.
Poverty had a room in our house. I couldn’t fathom how we would settle to portray ourselves as people who can afford for just one day to please people, and face having no food for days.
The uncles and the aunts would say “people have to eat, we have to bury our dad and mom with dignity. Everything has to be on-point”. They say “we need to honour your grandpa or grandma. We must give them a dignified burial”.
We want to look expensive, we want to be seen and appreciated and talked about way after the funeral by attendees.
Why should everything be on-point when we are mourning our loved ones? We are grieving and everyone can excuse us, honestly.
Why should we hire an expensive caterer or cook seven colours?We are still suffering from the “batho ba tlo reng?” syndrome (what are people going to say?). It is a funeral not a party or wedding celebration that we plan for.
Yes, we should have some refreshments. It does not have to be a buffet though. This culture of spending a lot of money on funerals has to change.
Death is really not something we plan for, but we wouldn’t have to take funeral covers that take more than R400 from us every month if we could change this culture or tradition of buffets at funerals. These funeral covers are our way of preparing for these unknown days.
But imagine if the cost of the casket was not such a big deal. Imagine if what we wore on the day of the burial was not a worrying matter, envisage a black community that redirected those R400s to education policies or other forms of investments. Funerals do not have to cost an arm and a leg.
Whatever is prepared for the unknown number of people attending the funeral should be appreciated, it be sandwiches or pap and chicken.
I can already hear someone saying; “that is not our culture”. Is our culture one that teaches us to appreciate people only when they are dead and cannot see it? It gets worse.
Then there is the drinking spree that takes place after the funeral. Personally, I find it very distasteful that we bury a loved one and then buy lots of booze in the name of “after tears” – many call it the “Wie sien ons”.
The other thing is, the external families of aunts and uncles arrive at home for “preparations” a week before the funeral and leave a week after the burial. For two weeks, the family has to feed six to eight extra mouths. It is absurd. Let us change how we handle funerals.
It has become unnecessarily costly.