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South East & South-South:The Final Journey of the dead

South East & South-South:The Final Journey of the dead

The final journey of the dead in the different parts of Nigeria is one event that is highly revered and given total respect especially if it is someone who have crossed the age of 80.

Those who have crossed the 70 years age grade have their obituary as “Celebration of Life” unlike the ones below the mark that reads “Gone too soon”.

It is a celebration of life at Eziama community in Amichi, Anambra state where the number of cows slaughtered for the burial ceremony of prominent individuals is based on the number of years. For someone who passed on at the age of 80, 8 cows are slaughtered, 90 years means 9 cows and so on. In the south-south region of Nigeria where you have the riverside people, such culture does not exist.

A good example is in the Urhobo speaking part of Delta state. When a married woman dies she must be buried in her father’s compound and not her husband’s place irrespective of the age. To these people, upon death, the marriage has been terminated. Another ethnic group that shares this same culture is the Itsekiri’s but with a slight adjustment. Every titled woman must never be buried outside the family compound. For others they can be buried outside their ancestral homes.

Photo: BellaNaija / Burial in Niger Delta mixed with western style

For easterners, and some other parts what they do is that the woman is taken to her father’s home where last respects are paid before taken to her final resting place in her husband’s home. Amongst the Bini tribe in Edo state, there are certain days of the week that burials can’t take place. Some days are known as market days which do not have a fixed arrangement.

For example, if an internment is slated for take place on a Friday and it is announced that the Friday is a market day, the body will be buried by Thursday night. With the emergence of a new Oba, all burial ceremonies have been ordered to take place in the night. According to the new Oba of Benin “The dead does not have any business with the day”.

Photo: emaze.com / A display of dances as celebration for a prominent man’s burial rites in Igbo land.

Civilization has tried to change the way the dead are buried in Nigerian through Christianity and Islam but a lot of people refused to discard the old ways of burials. They have made way for the new religions to be accommodated by the old one. It has been fused that everything has become one unique culture.

One thing is common to all the tribes in Nigeria – after the internment there is a lot to drink and eat especially for prominent people. So much money must be spent to make that burial ceremony the talk of the town. Another thing we see in burials is the dressing pattern. “Asoebi” is a Yoruba word which refers to “Uniform” dressing is one area that every tribe has adopted in all events especially weddings and burials. For burials involving the younger ones it is just black but for the elderly, it is white and other flashy colors to signify celebration.

Asoebi worn by a group of Isoko men in Delta State

Every tribe has their own distinct way of giving the dead befitting burial rites.

Gistpad will love to hear from you as it is done in your own community.

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