Anambra, the mercurial pearl of Igbo nation nestling River Niger, is within the information once more.
We’re not about to revisit the ferment of government intemperance that led the sitting governor into allegedly calling the entire chief of the pan-Igbo group, Ohanaeze, “an fool” for endorsing the presidential candidate of the primary opposition social gathering forward of the just-concluded common elections.
Slightly, we’re confronted by the audacity of a brand new piece of laws by the Anambra State Meeting in search of to smash via cultural obstacles into some darkish necromantic alley. Unambiguously named “A Legislation To Management Burial/Funeral Ceremonial Actions” and handed by a majority of the legislature, the act expressly seeks to abolish ostentation and impose a brand new tradition of modesty. All because of its sponsor, the iconoclastic Charles Ezeani (representing Anaocha II constituency), who says it “is geared toward slicing down the price of burial actions within the state”.
Ought to Governor Willy Obiano assent together with his golden fountain pen, it then turns into a grave felony “to deposit any corpse within the mortuary or anyplace past two months from the date of the loss of life, whereas burial ceremonies within the state shall be for sooner or later.”
No particular person, it additional forewarns grimly, shall topic any relation of the deceased particular person to a mourning interval of more than one week from the date of the burial ceremony.
To confer the sobriety thought applicable within the circumstance, the legislation additionally forbids conventional gunshot salute, praise-singing, blocking of roads/streets throughout obsequies or assumed ritual destruction of property.
In what may solely be focused at relieving the bereaved of economic burden or unreasonable expectations, one other clause states particularly that the household of the deceased “shall present meals for his or her kindred, relations and different sympathizers at their very own discretion.”
Taken collectively, these proposals are, to say the least, fairly earth-shaking certainly. Earlier than arriving at this historic juncture, the report nonetheless didn’t state how a lot of public buy-in had been secured via the company of public listening to facilitated by the state meeting over a probably explosive proposition.
Whereas Ezeani’s motive may hardly be faulted in the Aristocracy and public-spiritedness, nonetheless, contemplating that key provisions are framed by a considering that tends to counsel extremism of kinds, one is persuaded to imagine that not a lot session befell with the stakeholders. It is extremely uncertain if the vested pursuits within the obituary worth chain would have simply sat by and allowed an association that seeks to dim their lights or just take bread away from their tables with out elevating a voice of dissent.
By that single legislation, a entire universe of pros will undoubtedly be going through existential risk, if not extinction already. A more austere burial means bearish marketplace for mortuaries and the morticians, as an illustration. So, how are caterers, “Aso Ebi” (cloth) retailers, occasion planners, vintners, lessor of marquee/cover/plastic chairs anticipated to outlive now?
What then occurs to the acquainted hawkers of white handkerchiefs or hand followers? To say nothing about traffickers of mint-fresh banknotes for “spraying”. Or those that thought they’d struck gold by stocking milllion items of the rave-of-the-moment – the pistol-like cash-spraying machine fabricated in – the place else? – China.
We’ve not even thought of “skilled mourners” on rent to wail louder than the bereaved when the latter turn into too drained or had misplaced their voices to an excessive amount of sorrow.
Furthermore, large or elaborate funerals additionally create brisk enterprise for the masters of the 2 contrasting realms – the cosmic and the secular: rainmakers and alchemists who solemnly prime the canon for conventional gun-salute on the one hand; and native drummers who fall over one another within the driveway to usher you into the social gathering venues with soliciting crescendo.
Properly, we had been additionally not informed whether or not Ezeani had contemplated a ceiling to the price of a coffin permissible in Anambra soil henceforth. Which will, in truth, drag us right into a corpus of morbid particulars just like the apocryphal story of a thrifty coffin-maker who, upon being pressed for a concession, promised the shopper a reduction the subsequent time. Or the theatrics of the hyperactive curator of the communal hearse, gleaming from meticulous preservation most likely by generations, its utility but creatively prolonged by the present custodian to double as household automobile to church service on Sundays.
And lo, the king of all of them – the musician who makes a fortune from performing on the large events which the brand new Anambra legislation seeks to outlaw. At a time piracy has just about made album sale unprofitable, who doesn’t know that almost all artistes now hustle for reside performances for subsistence, apart endorsement offers with wealthy company our bodies. In fact, praise-singing is the short-cut.
As an editor some fifteen years in the past, I bear in mind being approached by one among our star reporters (Emeka Eyinnaya) saying a well-known Igbo musician was aghast on the headline given his interview we had revealed the earlier week.
Whereas responding to a particular query, the long-lasting entertainer had acknowledged somewhat casually that he was not ready to know whether or not the provenance of cash sprayed on him by these he often eulogized at soirées was tainted or not.
I solid the mentioned headline to replicate such self-acquittal from doable complicity on account of a murky supply.
Apparently, a great variety of his large spenders – likely bigtime conmen or cash ritualists – had rang him as much as categorical bitterness at his impudence to talk so uncomplimentarily of the palms feeding him.
However be aware, the respondent didn’t disown or dispute any portion of the transcript which may have been cited as foundation to fault the “offending” title, however was merely sad that the interview he was reluctant to grant within the first place was now going to pour sand in his garri.
Such is the sensitivity that typically underlines the rendition of eulogy at social events and the tightrope musicians should stroll thereafter to stay in enterprise.
However whereas all of the foregoing merely pertains to the results, the brand new Anambra funeral act would additionally seem like in chilly contempt of one thing more substantial – cultural sensibilities or habits. Whereas it’s a lot simpler to repair harm on the materials degree, altering issues on the cultural realm isn’t a simple job. These already considering the proposed legislation will abruptly usher the specified change in social habits in that jurisdiction will, subsequently, want some actuality test by merely recalling the anti-spraying legislation equally pushed by the Obasanjo administration in 2007.
Regardless of that part 21 subsection 1-Four of the CBN invoice handed by the sixth National Meeting prescribes heavy penalties starting with arrest and a jail time period of six months or N50,000 high quality, Nigerians haven’t stopped spraying crisp Naira notes at social events.
Allow us to face it: the Igbo in Anambra are actually not alone in turning burial to carnival of kinds. In most African societies, loud funerals usually are not solely deemed becoming finale to an illustrious life but additionally thought of one final debt owed the dead.
Subsequently, the widespread prayer amongst people is not only the grace to die not away from one’s wardrobe solely but additionally within the arms of 1’s offspring who must be in materials place to satisfy usually excessive expectations of the group.
So, whereas the bereaved in, say, western societies may think about as parting reward memorializing the departed by instituting a basis to propagate the concept they cherished whereas alive, the typical African would somewhat protect the reminiscence of their dead by internet hosting a shindig to be remembered because the grandest in a technology.
In Yorubaland, such jollification falls beneath the rubric of “Owambe”. In Edo, it’s referred to as “Obito”.
It’s, subsequently, uncertain if this age-old life-style will be legislated out of existence in a single day just like the Anambra’s funeral act envisages. The “Owambe” trade in Lagos is reportedly price a whopping N26b, as an illustration. Whereas the tradition of ostentation have to be seen as constituting prepared normative offence, one would somewhat counsel the adoption of a civic engagement method to wean the society off such hang-over. The underling mindset speaks to what psychologists name the edifice complicated. It partly explains the obsession for bogus issues – large automobiles, large homes, lengthy convoys.
We additionally see this showoffishness manifesting within the knack for titles that make many insist that their names be prefixed with “Sir, Chief, Dr, Engineer…”
There may be an pressing want for a re-orientation of the society to start to see the the Aristocracy in simplicity. The campaign shouldn’t be for presidency alone but additionally the standard and spiritual establishments as effectively. In the meantime, somewhat than prohibit loud events, what stops the authorities from imposing punitive taxes on those that select to exceed the brink thought of modest?