All across Africa, every culture has their differences that makes them similar in every ramifications that indefinitely points to the description “African Culture”. In Guinea Bissau, from experiences at the burial of Engr Nuno Nabiam father, I’ve come to observe many differences that ultimately makes all African culture one, using burial as a yardstick.
Recall, during our campaigns, ENGR Nuno abandoned his campaign to mourn with a Balanta family that lost a great man among them. The pictures I shared online generated many questions I couldn’t outrightly answer about animals killed and littered within the compound even while everyone mourn. Curious, I promised to research more on it and now I am getting more hands on it because the burial of Pa Peter Nabiam Homes has given me more answers.
One of the characteristics of African burial is “expenses”. It is more of an exercise where the living celebrate the death while mourning their sorrow.
For instance, in Igbo culture where I come from, we make a lot of preparations to bury the death, we kill cows and/or goats (depending on how far your finances can carry you), but there is always heavy expenses to make. In the process the living come together with songs of merriment and little interval of sober reflection when the corpse is lowered. Thereafter feasting continues at which time the living momentarily forget their sorrow while “mourning their sorrow in celebrating the death”
Now back to Balanta’s Burial in contrast to the Igbo method I just described above.
During this particular burial, emphasis is not laid on creating uniforms, printing banners or costly burial programs. Live band or DJ is not the worry because here, everything can be used as instrument for music that everyone can dance into ecstasy.
But here, one week today from the last week the death was announced and the corpse still far away in Lisbon Portugal, festivities started in Ernest as over 100 animals of different breeds, types, kind and species ranging from cows, goats, rams and pigs (which is the most expensive breed here), has already been killed and eaten.
I do not know how to quantify the quantity of rice already cooked because the mourners eat rice brought in basins and the cooking stand can comprise of over 5 different stands of over 30 cooking pots of commercial sizes (you can do the estimate)
In all, these people come in the morning and eat from morning till night or the next morning (if you choose to stay) and the dancing never ceases.
Finally the corpse was committed to mother earth yesterday and I breathed a sigh of relieve only to be told that the burial continues today (Sunday), in fact today is the main festivity as countless animals will still be killed today. Rice is cooking again and assorted drinks are being chilled for today’s onslaughts.
Then I begin to wonder which is more expensive, my Nigeria Igbo method or the Bissau Balanta method because while the former pay more attention to flamboyance, the latter pay more attention to “FEEDING”.
“Indeed Africa know how to mourn their sorrow while celebrating the death”.
Comr Amos Kalu – Afk