It is a Friday in Cameroon and everywhere, you see our citizens in bright multicolored dresses. You wonder what kind of great wedding celebration is about to begin. Then you shift gear, take a peek and see our new funeral badge with a picture at the left side of the chest then it dawns that far from a happy moment, these brightly dressed individuals are heading to the mortuary to take their death home for final burial rituals.
In the yesteryears in Cameroon, two colours heralded the atmosphere of any funeral celebrations- black and white with people truly demonstrating grieve for their departed loved ones with often simple programs to give the occasion the solemnity it deserves. That has changed.
The Nigerianization of the African Continent through Nollywood movies has seen a sharp change in the way people mourn their dead in Cameroon. In as much as such moments encourage reflections on the purpose of life and what may happen to our loved ones while we struggle to come to terms with our grieve and the thought that we might never again hear their voices, laughter or even face their anger and frustrations, the way some organize funerals these days leaves much to be desired.
Cameroonians are now being known to hold back from spending money on their sick relatives all in a bid to be able to give them that ‘befitting burial’. It boggles the mind that someone can die from the inability to buy simple life saving drugs because the family complained of having no money and yet millions surface to organize a funeral.
Nowadays, funerals are a competition among families, elites and even tribes. Just like Nigerians spoke of a “one in town house or car, Cameroonians want to have that much talked about “one in town funeral”. Everyone wants that people should be able to say…for the funeral of so and so, I ate, drank and had my fill and the people were well dressed. Some even go to such funerals even without knowing the bereaved families just to eat and drink and end up joining a cult. How can someone who never had the time to see the parents in the village for years. Never had the cash to build them a decent house during their lifetime or never even provided them with a good meal suddenly have the time to build or renovate a crumbling structure and to provide loads and tons of food and drinks to mourners who come to sympathize all in the name of giving their departed love ones a ‘befitting burial?’ In some extreme cases, some funeral homes have become like night clubs where people go there to dance and party till the wee hours of dawn. Looking at the ruckus that surrounds funerals today, we of this publication can rightly argue that there has been a Nigerianization of Cameroon. It betrays some ignorance to get into debt because of the need to follow some fabricated status quo about how funerals are to be done. It is ironic to say the least that in a bid to provide ‘a befitting burial’ people end up defeating the whole purpose of a funeral as they use that occasion to show off and of course, it becomes like feeding the death to starve the living.