3 Nigerian Funeral Traditions That Seem Silly When Held Up To Scrutiny

June 10, 2020

I know that it differs from tribe to tribe but it’s time we all come together as a nation, hold hands, and address the insanity of Nigerian funeral traditions. Now, I’m not referring to burial traditions super-specific to certain tribes (e.g. shaving a widow’s head and making her drink the water used to wash her husband’s corpse), I’m referring to the traditions that almost all tribes have in common.

Traditions like:

1) The Pallbearers dancing during the procession with the casket on their shoulders.

DANCING PALLBEARERS - Nigerian (Igbo) Funeral | It's Iveoma - YouTube

What is happening here??

The absurdity of this never occurred to me until the dancing Ghanaian pallbearers became a meme in early 2020. What is the point of this? It wouldn’t be an issue if they just swaying gently from side to side. Their dance routines are always SUPER elaborate with twists, turns, twerking, leg flips etc. All this with an occupied coffin on their shoulders. What happens if one misses a step and the coffin falls, causing the body to roll out like a giant rag doll? What happens then? Are we supposed to laugh or scream?

2) What’s the point of throwing a big ass party?

funeral | North of Lagos

People say a party like this is called a ‘Celebration of Life’ and only happens when the deceased lived a long life. I still don’t get it because even if the person served Methuselah realness before they croaked, it’s still a sad occasion because someone died. Including a live band, dancers, matching outfits, branded merchandise, and a shit ton of alcohol is exactly why most Nigerian funerals go from “We’re celebrating the life and times of our loved one who died” to “WE’RE GOING TO PARTY LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW!!!”.

3) What’s the point of going to a church to do thanksgiving on the one year anniversary of a person’s death?

Nigerian Harvest Thanksgiving Mass and Festival : Catholic ...

What exactly are we being thankful for? That the person remained dead? That they didn’t break out of their grave and return as a zombie? Is that a fear people have? Why is that a fear people have? Are people out here burying their dead in the cemetery from Pet Sematery? Am I missing something?

Pssst! Peep the recent episode of Zikoko’s Isolation Diary in which this topic is addressed.

Nigerian funeral traditions

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