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'Selfies' at funerals

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th September 2014 03:47 PM

Gone are the days when people could roll in the mud, cut off their hair, wail loudly while mourning their loved ones. Public display of grief together with donning sackcloth, going barefooted and wearing old clothes is out of style.

Gone are the days when people could roll in the mud, cut off their hair, wail loudly while mourning their loved ones. Public display of grief together with donning sackcloth, going barefooted and wearing old clothes is out of style.

By Carol Kasujja

Gone are the days when people could roll in the mud, cut off their hair, wail loudly while mourning their loved ones. Public display of grief together with donning sackcloth, going barefooted and wearing old clothes is out of style.


Fashion show

Today the occasion of death has turned into a show of class. Mourners don fancy, sometimes clothes or coordinated outfits similar to those maids wear at introduction ceremonies. The expenditure at some funerals could compete well with many wedding budgets.

There seems to be one thing Ugandans are doing in advance of death and that is buying the right clothes, shades, shoes and flowers. These days appearance at the funeral matters.

 “I wonder where people get time to arrange for those outfits. Who decides on the outfit and do those people ever wear those outfits again?” asks Fredrick Kirumira, an IT expert at Nyango medical centre.

Tabitha Asiimwe recalls that immediately after the doctors had told them that their mother had died, they held a meeting and decided what they were going to wear.

“We all decided to wear pink (mishanana) because that was the best way we could send off mummy. It took us one day,”

These days women dress their best, visit the hair dresser and get a manicure and pedicure before attending any funeral because, they reason that it could have been them lying in the coffin.

If the deceased is a rich man with two or three wives, each of them makes sure that the other woman does not outshine her.

“I have attended funerals that have come close to dressing competitions. It seems these days’ people secretly buy dresses in preparation for the death of bedridden relatives and friends. People behave as if they do not have cultures,” said Ruth Kanyange, a lawyer at Kasumba and Kalyango advocates.

Pastor James Sserunjogi of Grace Ministries in Mutundwe says that whenever they have a funeral service, they start late because on so many occasions, the widow’s dress and the children’s clothes are not ready.

“We delay funeral services because the tailor has not delivered the Busuti or Kitengi the widow is meant to wear. There is one where we had to wait for the relatives to print T-shirts,” he says.

Funeral companies are getting busier as more people are opting to use their services. One can clear payment in preparation for his send off in future. If you do not have the money, you can pay in installments and save your relatives from the nitty-gritty of sending you off.

“When I lost my father, we never stressed anyone with transporting his body and digging his grave, we used a funeral company and at the end of the day, we had time to mourn and greet people,” said Shem Ouma.

To host the kind of funeral that today’s trend dictates, you must have some savings for it in the bank.

You have to hire tents and plastic chairs as mourners no longer sit on verandahs and stools.


Selfies and social media time

Even the general mood at funeral has changed. Forget about those days when close friends visited to comfort you or prepare porridge/lunch for mourners, these days, mourners arrive late, dressed in jeans holding their huge phones, and spend more time on Facebook and twitter posting pictures of them near the casket or selfies with the bereaved family.
Remember President Obama at the Nelson Mandela’s funeral? The American president took a “selfie” in a pose with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt as the funeral went on.

Pocket-biting Budget

Today it is not the neighbours that fetch water, collect firewood, cook food or wash plates, all that is done by catering companies.


Those days, people served food but it was not nicely prepared, and it was simple meals. Now, you have a choice of beef, chicken or fresh beans. Caterers serve food on melamine plates, not plastics and you are assured of a soda, bottled water or even a beer for the more sophisticated.

“It seems these days if you do not have money, you don’t lose someone. Even when a person dies at home, relatives want to go for a post-mortem which is costly,” said Irene Wanyama.


Filming event

Sending off a loved one these days without a video camera is not a decent sendoff. You have to have a camera to captivate the proceedings.

If the body was brought from abroad the drama is even more captivating. “We decided to have our grandfather’s funeral filmed because we have relatives abroad who could not make it to the funeral. Later, we sent the video to London and they also mourned with us,” said Sheila Ainebyona.

Catch up time


Some co-operate women use funerals as a place to catch up. Because these days they do not visit loved ones, when one dies, they catch up. They get to gossip about aunt so and so who likes reminding them when they are giving birth. As they are gossiping, the Dj is busy playing some loud music.
Politician’s invasion
How Rita Nakku, wishes that politicians should not be given a chance to address mourners.

“Most of this time, these politicians do not know the dead person that much or even that could be the first time they are visiting the home bit when given the micro-phone, they talk about themselves and a lot of irrelevant things at the funeral,” she says.

Those days it would really be hard for a widower or widows to give a speech, but these days, widows are stone-hearted. After laying their wreaths, they speak like the person is going to come back next week.

In our culture, after burial, many people would stay around and give support to the relatives, but these days it is like people just come to bury to show face. Especially people from Kampala, after burial, they all jump in their cars and drive back.


 

‘Selfies’ at funerals

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