Mixed feelings over burial rituals

WHEN Aaron Mhukuta Gomo, popularly known as Mudzidzi Wimbo died recently, news spread across the whole country.

A well-known Apostolic sect leader, Mudzidzi Wimbo rose to fame in the 1950s when he prophesied that former President Mr Robert Mugabe would rule in independent Zimbabwe.

Upon his death, thousands of mourners turned up for his burial.

However, some of his close family members – a number of his wives and children -snubbed Mudzidzi Wimbo’s final journey to his resting place.

It is said that Mudzidzi Wimbo was not in good books with some of his family members, resulting in him living at his church shrine.

The family feud has raised questions over the importance of conducting family burial rituals.

Traditionalist Sekuru Elisha Mutanga said burial rituals are no longer being observed as guided by tradition.

“Back then, families never used to wash dirty linen in public as issues were resolved in secret family meetings after burial,” he said.

“It was our custom that before burial, some of the sticky issues were resolved so that burial rites were conducted peacefully.

“Whether one was Christian or not, death always united families but it seems things have changed these days.

“It is in our culture that if one does not participate in family rituals, he or she will be haunted by spirits, which can only be rectified when the rituals are fulfilled.

“In every society, funerals are conducted in line with our African cultural practices.”

Traditionalist Mbuya Calista Magorimbo said in the African culture, if the family of the deceased does not perform rituals, it can cause deaths and misfortunes in the family.

“Traditionally, death is the last transitional stage of life and it requires passage rites so that the deceased is ‘detached’ from the living. If the funeral rites are not observed, the deceased may come back to haunt the family,” she said.

“Families should reconcile during the funeral.

“Bereaved women are supposed to sit on the floor or on a mattress in a corner of the room close to the coffin and at the head side of the deceased.

“Also after the funeral, usually seven to 10 days, visits are paid by the community to comfort the bereaved family.”

But Johane Masowe Sunningdale Apostolic sect leader Madzibaba Clever Muringani differed with the traditionalists, saying in Christianity, there is no need to conduct sacred rituals when one is laid to rest.

“In Christianity, we do not believe in rituals. We just pray and that’s important.

“For the family, we pray that we detach the deceased‘s spirit from the living so that there are no haunting stories,” he said.

Seventh Day Adventist Church’s Pastor Xolani Chikuni said they believe that if one dies, he or she is automatically disconnected from the living.

“There is no connection between the living and the dead, therefore there is no need for any burial rites.”

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