Byo burial space short­age Peo­ple need to ad­just cul­tur­ally Con­sider cre­ma­tion as an al­ter­na­tive

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion -

are in­terred at Lu­veve Ceme­tery, a fa­cil­ity that caters for Bu­l­awayo’s four cor­ners, that is, from Mgan­winiRange­more in the ex­treme west to Llewellyn Bar­rack­sCe­ment Sid­ing and the agro-in­dus­trial en­vi­rons in the east.

In the south, the ceme­tery ac­com­mo­dates Dou­glas­dale-Eloana-Water­ford, and then North End/ Sauer­stown plus the quasi-farm­ing sec­tor of Tre­nance in the town’s north­ern fringes.

Al­though the city’s ex­act to­tal pop­u­la­tion is un­known, a guess of about one-and-a-half mil­lion is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be fairly cor­rect.

The au­thor of this ar­ti­cle is not aware of any de­mo­graphic sta­tis­tics in­di­cat­ing Bu­l­awayo’s daily death av­er­age.

How­ever, mere ob­ser­va­tion in­di­cates that about 10 buri­als oc­cur daily in Bu­l­awayo. To this fig­ure we should give or take about two. That es­ti­mate gives us be­tween 240 and 360 buri­als monthly for a pop­u­la­tion of 1,5 mil­lion.

That cal­cu­la­tion may very well be in­cor­rect as it is based on vis­ual ob­ser­va­tions num­bers of which may vary very much daily, es­pe­cially on week­ends and also sea­son­ally.

How­ever, the real sub­ject mat­ter of this dis­cus­sion is the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the Lu­veve Ceme­tery to Bu­l­awayo’s var­i­ous res­i­den­tial ar­eas, that is, to the peo­ple of Water­ford, Ma­hat­shula, Mgan­wini, Llewellyn- Ce­ment Sid­ing, Dou­glas­dale, Tre­nance and Kens­ing­ton.

A ceme­tery falls un­der the cat­e­gory of so­cial ameni­ties that are un­avoid­able in every com­mu­nity. An amenity must be ac­ces­si­ble. If it is a long dis­tance away, it is not con­ve­nient as it gen­er­ates oner­ous ex­penses in terms of both fi­nance and time.

We live in a quasi-in­dus­trial en­vi­ron­ment where time is of much essence to our lives. If much of it is spent on mov­ing from one place to an­other, the process be­comes more costly in more ways than in sheer mone­tary terms.

In usual terms, trav­el­ling long dis­tances re­quires more fi­nan­cial re­sources than shorter dis­tances. This is what the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil should look at in con­nec­tion with buri­als in its area.

As the city ex­pands, so must its so­cial ameni­ties, their ac­ces­si­bil­ity be­ing a ma­jor fac­tor. Each Bu­l­awayo city coun­cil­lor should en­sure that his or her ward has an ac­ces­si­ble med­i­cal fa­cil­ity, and of course, ceme­tery as an ex­ten­sion of that fa­cil­ity.

What that means in sim­ple terms is that every med­i­cal fa­cil­ity should have a mor­tu­ary for at least six bod­ies. The near­est ceme­tery should not be more than 10km away. Lu­veve Ceme­tery is more than 35km from Llewellyn Bar­racks and also from Water­ford.

It would be much eas­ier for the res­i­dents of Dou­glas­dale, Eloana, Water­ford and other south­ern sub­urbs to have a ceme­tery in their sec­tor than for them to travel all the way across the city, past Lu­veve to Si­pazi­pazi to bury their rel­a­tives or friends.

Sim­i­larly, Em­gan­wini, Range­more, Belle­vue, South­wold and West Som­mer­ton res­i­dents can do with ceme­ter­ies nearer their re­spec­tive lo­cal­i­ties than hav­ing to travel to the Lu­veve grave­yard.

This is­sue can be much more ap­pre­ci­ated by coun­cil­lors that are close to the peo­ple in their wards than by those who con­tact vot­ers only dur­ing cam­paign pe­ri­ods.

This ar­ti­cle’s au­thor has at­tended sev­eral fu­ner­als where rel­e­vant coun­cil­lors were very con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence. They were ex­pected to fea­ture on the pro­grammes, but did not turn up.

One would have thought that a death in a ward would be treated by a coun­cil­lor as an op­por­tu­nity for him or her to meet his or her ward’s res­i­dents.

Al­though it is un­re­al­is­tic and un­de­sir­able for coun­cil­lors to at­tend the ac­tual burial of the de­ceased voter at the ceme­tery proper, it could help them to hear what some of the be­reaved say about hav­ing to go from such places as Kil­lar­ney to Lu­veve Ceme­tery, a dis­tance of about 30km.

We must also bear in mind that many peo­ple tend the graves of their beloved ones for years af­ter burial. If the graves are far away, it be­comes very dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to do so.

We have been look­ing at ceme­ter­ies and how con­ve­niently or in­con­ve­niently they are lo­cated to Bu­l­awayo city’s var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties. Ceme­ter­ies oc­cupy pieces of ground, some of them quite large ar­eas.

Land is not elas­tic whereas pop­u­la­tions are, par­tic­u­larly in cul­tures where men can marry more than one wife, and birth con­trol is frowned upon.

Zimbabwe is a multi-cul­tural coun­try where some men have dozens of chil­dren by sev­eral women. That means that the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing, but not the size of the coun­try.

The re­sult of that de­vel­op­ment will be that there will be less liv­ing as well as burial space. It will sooner than later be dif­fi­cult to ac­com­mo­date both the liv­ing and the dead if we do not ad­just cul­tur­ally, by hav­ing fewer chil­dren and also by the dis­posal of our dead in a way that re­quires much less phys­i­cal space than graves.

Monog­a­mous mar­riages tend to re­sult in fewer chil­dren than polyg­a­mous ones. Mean­while, cre­ma­tion cer­tainly saves both space and fi­nan­cial re­sources. These are mat­ters on which the na­tion needs to be ed­u­cated about, and na­tional lead­ers have a big role to play in that re­gard.

Coun­cil­lors have to un­der­stand that their du­ties far ex­ceed the pro­vi­sion of wa­ter, en­ergy, med­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties.

They have to en­lighten the com­mu­ni­ties they rep­re­sent about na­tional re­sources and their us­age, and land is without any doubt the most im­por­tant. Cre­ma­tion is in­deed a very eco­nom­i­cal type of dis­posal of dead bod­ies in terms of space, time and ma­te­rial re­sources, in­clud­ing fi­nance.

Maybe in­di­vid­ual coun­cil­lors should or­gan­ise work­shops in their wards about this ob­vi­ously im­por­tant mat­ter.

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a re­tired, Bu­l­away­obased jour­nal­ist. He can be con­tacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email sg­wakuba@gmail.com

Since the clo­sure of the Bu­l­awayo West Park Ceme­tery more than a year ago, the city’s be­reaved bury their de­parted at the Lu­veve Ceme­tery, sit­u­ated near the Si­pazi­pazi Moun­tains

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