Does Nnewi Man Have Right To Forbid His Funeral Ceremony Upon Death?
Does an Nnewi man have any right to forbid his funeral ceremony upon death?
The answer is capital NO!
When I heard that one of the most prominent Nnewi and Igbo leaders of our time had instructed that upon his death that he should just be buried and that no funeral ceremonies or rites of passage be conducted for him, I became panicky. The dead was a brilliant and well respected citizen school in tradition. He was also well travelled.
The man who gave this injunction while alive, attended all the funeral ceremonies of his relations, in-laws and friends. He presented cow where he was needed to and money and drinks as required. He also attended funerals of both the christians and traditional religionists.
Hence, the news of his injunction of “no funeral for me” was like “that’s no true”.
Having confirmed that he actually said so, Iinstructed that upon his death that he should just be buried with no funeral ceremonies or rites conducted should reason that now he is dead, his kinsmen should do the right thing.
They should go ahead to perform his funeral otherwise his spirit will be earth-bound and as such would continue to hover around and be disturbing the living.
I write this with a great sense of responsibility as one who have striven so hard to pick the bits and pieces of our culture and to preserve same for our generation unborn.
Ndịgbo world over know that if a man makes a death bed wish which his kinsmen believe is inappropriate, nobody argues with him. However, upon death his kinsmen will do the right thing.
While the dead has the right to dictate how his estate would be shared upon death, he has no right to refuse to be sent to join his ancestors. He must be forced to depart otherwise he might constitute a problem for the living.
How can a man say while alive that a ceremony that would initiate him into the land of the ancestors should not to be performed?
Does he want to remain with the living?
That’s dangerous. It is imilimious. Elders need to tụkpoo ya alo.
The souls of the dead cannot rest in peace until the funeral or the rite of passage is done. It is an Nnewi and Igbo tested belief; that we must do.
We have recorded cases or instances where the spirits of the dead kept demanding for their funeral ceremonies until the relations performed them.
There was one Mazi Muodike (real name withheld) of Mbanagu Otolo, Nnewi who kept harassing his brother to settle him with funeral rites many years after his death. And he didn’t rest until he got settled.
Mazi Mụọdike had died naturally and was buried. He was married but had no children. So, it was the duty of his elder brother to bury him and perform his funeral ceremonies.
But the late Mụọdike’s elder brother would not perform his funeral but was more interested in appropriating his widow, encroaching into his lands and economic trees, selling them and living good.
Mụọdike had nicely appeared to his brother and his nephews in dreams and in trance pleading that his funeral rites of passage be conducted, an appeal made to deaf ears.
The dead man even asked that the proceeds of sale of his lands be used to do the funeral ceremony but his brother wouldn’t hear of that.
Mụọdike’s brother, Mazi Asoibenne, a christian convert, believed that the dead was powerless.
The spirit of the dead Mụọdike radicalised and started interfering with the progress of the businesses of the sons of his brother making them to seek spiritual help. The loses were becoming massive and suspicious.
In all the native and Christian enquiries or “ị jụ ase”, the message was the same: “your uncle’s troubled spirit is responsible for your ill-luck and that it could get worse”.
The children of Mazi Asọibenne could not get their father to conduct his brother’s funeral until one fateful day when Asoibenna himself was pushed off a palm tree when he had climbed up to
15 feet from the ground.
He was told by the ghost of his brother, as he laid prostate under the palm tree, that the fall that left little bruises and a sprained ankle on him was just a warning.
That scary fall from a palm tree put the needed fear in Asọibenne as he was a wine rapper by profession.
His dead brother had touched the right cord. So he did the needful. He gave the dead his funeral rights to enable him “keta oke na be mụọ” i.e “to enable the dead be a full entitled member in the community of the ancestors”.
Nothing more was heard nor anybody disturbed by late Mụọdike’s spirit after his funeral ceremony was conducted and his spirit dispatched to the great beyond by seven “mkpọ n’ana” or cannon gunshots.
In the whole of Nnew communities all those who died during the civil war had to be given their funeral rites. In fact, Gov Willie Obiano had to organise and an Anambra wide funeral for those who died during the civil war. That was to help them transit to the world beyond.
Before Christianity came with their own story of heaven and earth, Nnewi dead people had an abode called Ana Ndị Mụọ or the land of our ancestors. Funeral ceremony was the matriculation or initiation ceremony for anyone to enter that phase.
Everyone in Nnewi know the saying of ozu akwaghị akwa meaning the “dead whose funeral was not conducted”. He is like a student who has finished exams but is yet to graduate. If someone is referred as “ị na akwụgharị ka ozu akwaghị akwa”, the person is being said to be wondering about as a ghost whose funeral ceremonies was not conducted.
If the immediate family of the deceased decides to abide by the wish of their father, the extended family also known as Ụmụnna should go ahead to organise the funeral and send off the man to the land of the ancestors. He had no right to dictate how he would be sent off just as a student cannot moderate the graduation ceremony. It is beyond him.
The power of the kinsmen group also known as ụmụnna to overrule the dead has been there since time immemorial.
It is a saying in Nnewi that “onye nwụrụ anwụ kechaa ikpe ndị dị ndụ ekegharị ya” meaning the living has the right to overrule the decisions of the dead especially when the dead acted in bad faith.