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DYING IN DIASPORA: THE UNSAID TRAUMA

01 Aug


The United Kingdom is one of the most envied destinations by immigrants hence the subject of immigration is now the unavoidable discourse in British politics. Those among foreign immigrants who become fortunate to get British citizenship are encouraged to assimilate British values so as to jell well into life in the UK. While a lot of these first generation immigrants have attempted to have a life here, many of them have been caught in between the land of their dream and the land of their origin. This emotional and cultural umbilical cord is not easy to cut off. Of late this reality has been exposed due to diaspora death especially among immigrants of African origin. From nowhere African cultural expectations in situations of death come into play. This has caused unprecedented traumatic experiences among families, relatives, friends and Church folks home and away. In some sad cases there has been sophisticated pauper burial plans whereby the deceased takes so many months in the mortuary due to unavailability of repatriation funds. Indeed death in diaspora has become double trouble for kith and kin because it brings with it a clash of cultures and a clash of families due to where the body of the deceased should be buried. In light of the African realities I will cite below, it Is advisable to make contingent plans whilst you are still in control. Check out these inescapable challenges:
# Africans have a belief that a truly dignified burial is when you get buried at your rural home. Hence you have to be buried where your umbilical cord was originally buried at your birth so as to connect you with your ancestors. For this reason being buried in UK is viewed as pauper burial nomatter how exquisite the burial procession is.

# Africans have the expectation of social loyalty to your place of origin hence the frequent visits to Africa whilst you are still alive and the same is expected in death when you make your last and permanent visit.

# Coupled with this is the communal nature of African social life where there is interconnectedness in the extended family relations which is practised from the womb to the tomb hence African life is composed of a series of rituals from birth to death. Therefore it is anathema for them to do this last ritual for you in absentia.

# The ritual of last respects is not complete without the final distribution of the deceased’s belongings especially clothes. So its not just the repatriation of the deceased’s body only but his/her belongings too.

# Remember that the elders in the family call the shots in determining where your burial place shall be. They may not have the means or the money to sponsor your repatriation but apparently their word is final and someone somewhere has to do the action.

# Whether you were Christian or non-Christian, your encounter with rituals does not end with burial rituals. There will be regular post-humous memorial rituals which are better done at your grave site. These range from Consolation rituals (Nyaradzo), Tombstone unveiling or alternatively Kurova guva or just getting an annual bouqet of flowers.

THIS IS A WARNING TO FIRST GENERATION IMMIGRANTS.

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2 Comments

Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “DYING IN DIASPORA: THE UNSAID TRAUMA

  1. Mabwe

    August 5, 2015 at 02:29

    The repatriation of our dead back to Africa is a heavy cost burden which only becomes necessary to bring closure on the death of a relative. In the unlikely event that the whole family unit is in the diaspora then repatriation could be avoided – but then it rarely happens that parents and grandparents are in the same diaspora country as well.

     
  2. Wellington M

    August 13, 2015 at 07:36

    Thank you for the topic Reverend.There is this saying which says in shona ” Hapana kusina guva”. I think it is all about mindset and some miscellaneous cultural values, we keep Some things which we need to be delivered from, It is good to change sometimes. They only accept when ones body goes missing at sea and is never found, although they will not stop talking about it until they are buried themselves(kilth and kin). I hear they are trying to bring the skulls of mbuya Nehanda, sekuru Kaguvi and others back to Zim for reburial, from the British museum.

     

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