Do not speak ill of the dead!
With Sunmola Olowookere
Africans hold their culture sacred amidst every other aspects of their existence. An African is inseparable from his belief because no matter the level of his civilization, his cultural belief is deeply ingrained into his soul.
One of the belief, is that no one must speak ill of the dead. Why is this so? Is it out of fear that they could be haunted by the spirit of the departed? Or is it out of respect and consideration that the deceased could not rise to put forward any defense?
For whatever reason, we do not speak ill of the dead. No matter how wicked the deceased had been when he or she was alive, everyone would gloss over it.
And though who are not able to gloss over the actual facts would simply hold their peace.
In a flagrant disregard of this old order, a daughter threw caution to the wind and laid bare the gruesome facts of her father’s personality before the guest that came to bid him goodbye.
The man was seventy five years old and was estimated to be the oldest in our neighbourhood.
His daughter who was forty years of age dabbed her eyes with a white handkerchief that had been bought specifically for the occasions.
She looked defenseless as she came forward following the call of the officiating ministers that the eldest of the deceased’s children should come forward to speak about their father.
She began in a wobbly voice “my father, you have gone from this world. It is a painful thing that you departed without eating from the fruit of your labour. If indeed there is something called reincarnation, I want you to still give birth to me in your next life….”
By then, her voice broke as she allowed a sob to escape. The gathering heaved a sigh of sympathy for the young woman who missed her father so much. Some of the women were already dabbing at teary eyes.
Then she resumed her speech in a high pitched voice “but if God permits me to come to the world through you in the next life, you must take care of me. You neglected me in this life. Do you hear me?!! You must take care of me in your next life…”
The pastors recoiled in shock at her words. The sympathizers could not believe their ears. Those that had earlier hung their heads in grief snapped them up in surprise at her words. Had a pin dropped at this moment, it would have been heard.
However, she was just gaining momentum as she launched another volley “had you taken care of me, you wouldn’t have died such a shameful death and alone too. You did not train me well or sponsor me in school. Had you done your duty by me, I would not feel so useless and I would have been able to take care of you and take you to the hospital so you wouldn’t have died just like a chicken….”
The gathering gasped in doubled shock at such daring, effrontery and poor manners. They began to mummur among themselves “how did Baba die?”
“Was she telling the truth?”
While some murmured angrily “how could she be so ill mannered?”
Others countered “why should she not voice out her feelings if she is telling the truth?”
By then, the pastors had rallied from their stupefied state and their leader snapped at her “that’s okay. You have said quite enough, thank you”.
However, the harm had been done and the tone had been set for the subsequent speeches and the next speaker was no better. He was a representative of the landlords association in the area. He harped on moderation in all aspects of life all through his speech.
” one crucial lesson that we have learnt from the life of the deceased is that we should do everything in moderation. Please let us do everything we do in moderation “
Everyone present there understood what the man was talking about. The deceased was an unrepentant drunk
Oftentimes, the deceased would come home as drunk as a skunk when he was alive.
It was a burial that the residents could not forget in a hurry.