By Michael Mchia
Dose the Tiv nation have a burial culture? They do. My father used to tell me that once a man or woman died in Tiv land he/she was buried immediately on the same day, but when the death occurred at the late hours of the day, the person would be buried the following morning.
It was the responsibility of the village head to show where the grave will be dug and to fix the burial date and time.
I have grown up to meet a culture where the responsibility of fixing the date for burial and other things concerning burial has been pushed to the female children of the deceased.
When some one dies, the village head is waiting for a small girl to come and fix the burial date because she is the one responsible for making the grave, the casket or providing light and canopy. This is not what I was told!
Death amongst the Tiv people was not a merry making event but a period of mourning, but now funeral amongst the Tiv people has become a party, a picnic or a bazaar!
The year 2022 was a sad year for the world. We lost Pele of Brazil a footballer who had an unbroken record in football.
Pele won 3 World Cups, visited 88 countries, met 15 Kings, 6 Emperors, 72 Presidents, and 40 Heads of State. He met Ronald Reagan of USA and Reagan introduced himself “I am Ronald Reagan the President of USA” and turning to Pele he said, “Please don’t introduce yourself. Everybody knows Pele.”
In 1969, the civil war in Nigeria had a cease fire for 48 hours only to watch how Pele would play football. Pele was given a red card in one of the games while playing for Santos but card was rescinded and the referee punished rather for giving Pele the card.
Pele died on 29th of December 2022 and was buried on the 3rd of January 2023, just a period of 5 to 6 days.
The Church and in fact the whole world lost a leader Pope Benedict the XVI (Emeritus) on the 31st of December 2022 and was buried on the 5th January 2023.
He was the Prefect Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Dean College of Cardinals before becoming a Pope. He wrote about 66 books, 3 encyclical and 4 exhortations. As a young Priest and a good footballer, he was approached by Bayern Munich to play for the club but he turned down the offer.
His burial ceremony was one of the shortest, just about an hour and 15 minutes, or thereabout. No long sermon, no introduction of dignitaries, no funeral orations. Just simple and smart ceremony.
A culture where a dead person is kept for months and sometimes years before burial is not a Tiv culture. The Church tried to intervene in this matter when the late Bishop Usuh of the then Catholic Diocese of Makurdi legislated that a corpse should not be kept for more than 10 days before burial.
Are we still keeping to this tradition or are we coping some traditions from other tribes? Why are we keeping the dead for a long period of time? The only thing we are so sure of, is death. That is why immediately the child comes out the placenta is buried, that is to show you that death is sure. Let us go back to the culture of burying the dead moment they die and not keeping them to give them a befitting burial when we did not give them a befitting life when they were alive.
The example of Pele and Pope Benedict the XVI should teach us some lessons.