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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Is our place of burial important?
Coffin in a dug grave
When you die, it is customary for your body to be taken to your village for burial but does it still matter where we are buried?

Many Africans live abroad, and the urban population is expanding, which means people can be far away from home when they die.

If you are not rich it can be difficult to return a body home, and big funerals are expensive. It is also very time consuming to travel to funerals every week.

Some argue that it is unhealthy to have graves next to the home, but others say no-one will look after a far away grave.

Where do you want to be buried and why? Does it still matter if you have a traditional grave? Is it better to be buried in a cemetery or in a private homestead? And what is important about the position of a grave?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

I think as Africans we share a special bond with our land and people, and I think its important for every African to be brought back home and buried.
Aku Achemu, Kaduna, Nigreia

the memory of a person is in the hearts of the survivors
Alice, Nairobi, Kenya
I once told my mum that I would like to be wrapped in white cloth and buried at the city cemetery, but she went ballistic. Because of insecurity, travelling upcountry is beginning to be replaced by burying in the city. I prefer this option, not so much because of security or costs, but because the memory of a person is in the hearts of the survivors and not in epitaphs or proximity to homesteads.
Alice, Nairobi, Kenya

If one has led a life which sets an example for others, the grandeur and the location of the grave does matter, because it serves as an example to others.
Girish Shenoy, Pune, India

Actually, I don't want be buried anywhere. But if I am buried, I will choose a propitious site for a grave so my descendants know where I am.
Senghae Shin, Korea

It is easier for someone who has never lost a loved one to say it matters not where the dead are buried. I lost my dad some 12 years back and I am still thankful to God that he is lying in our backyard.
Lizette Betanga, Yaounde, Cameroon

I never saw the significance of being buried at home till I started living here, in England, but now I do; England is too cold, thus I won't decompose fast enough; and on the day of resurrection, I don't want to wake up in the midst of 'white' ghosts, that will confuse me!
Kaddy Ante, Birmingham, England

it is time that we thought about alternative means of disposing off the dead
Takere Mbarodi, Banjul, The Gambia
As the population pressure on land is getting greater, it is time that we thought about alternative means of disposing of the dead. We cannot continue accommodating them on the precious and ever-dwindling land. I support the introduction of cremation in Africa.
Takere Mbarodi, Banjul, The Gambia

With the invasion by ritualists in search of body parts in public cemetries, I wish to be buried in my village close to my house.
John Dioka, Enugu, Nigeria.

For someone who follows and understands Islam, it is best to be buried, if feasible, close to your relatives and community. The rationale behind this is that on the Day of Resurrection, when we all gather and stand in front of the only one God, Allah, your relatives or fellow Muslim brothers & sisters will be able to intercede for you because they know you and your good deeds. Besides, isn't it beautiful to see that your family and friends are able to visit your grave, pray and seek forgiveness on your behalf to Allah?
Hamidou Toure, Washington DC, USA

Of course, my place of burial is very important, I am a citizen of the world but I have my roots in Tamazgha, the land of Amazighs (Berbers), and I can't imagine any other place where I'll rest.
Amayas, Italy (originally North Africa)

I prefer cremation to destroy everything
Akeno Lonyangkongu, Nairobi, Kenya
I don't care where I will be buried. In fact I prefer cremation to destroy everything.
Akeno Lonyangkongu, Nairobi, Kenya

Here in Ethiopia, large cemeteries are becoming the ultimate challenges for the living as there is an increasing shortage of land for housing, particularly in the capital. Second, Ethiopians are addicted to building "monument-like" grave houses for their dead loved ones. It is infuriating.
Tsedale Lemma , Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

When you die far away from home in Africa your hair, finger nails and toe nails are always sent back to your home or village.
Akpene, Accra Ghana

he was buried here because there were no funds to take him home
Emmanuel Ezeoke, Nigerian in Bremen
A friend of mine died last week here in Germany, he was buried here because there were no funds to take him home.
Tochukwu Emmanuel Ezeoke, Nigerian in Bremen

If I am buried away from home, my soul would wander about in the world and would need to make new friends which I think may make me miserable.
Sam, Cape town, Ghana

A grave is a memory. It represents our traditions, the values we inherit and pass on, the sense of continuity and above all the sense of belonging. To some it may not be important, but to others it is an essential point of reference. Why have so many cultures made such an effort in maintaining burial sites? For the very reason that it is our cultural heritage that we pay homage to.
Chiara Legnani, Triest, Italy

For ages, Africans have buried and will continue to bury their loved ones near their homes. The essence is to bring the dead nearer to his or her ancestors especially if the dead person is of full adult age. He or she is accorded full traditional or religious rites. This is not expensive at all. But in recent times, burial ceremonies have been turned into a jamboree where those concerned in most cases display their ill gotten wealth. This is rather the exception than the norm.
Ahamefula Ken Mbaeri, Lagos, Nigeria

For most Muslims, your relations should be able to visit your grave and pray for you and other dead souls in the cemetery. The reverse of it, however, is that one has to be buried wherever it is that one dies because the teaching of the Prophet abhors going round with the dead body. The assumption being that the dead soul is earnestly looking for eternal rest which should not be delayed. I would very much like to be buried near my relations than to be assumed dead ie. when I'm buried far off from home and people have to think you dead without having seen your grave.
Abubakar Ibrahim, Accra, Ghana

We will all die, and I don't think we should be worried about where our burials are.
Hussein Mberwa, New York, USA

Better to be buried wherever one dies and limit funeral expenses
Enitan, Maryland, USA
Better to be buried wherever one dies and limit funeral expenses than to be remembered because of a super lavish funeral in a world where millions of people are starving.
Enitan, Maryland, USA

I would like to be buried in Africa where my remains would serve at least as manure to the soil, so that generations after me could use it to cultivate food crops or even help sustain the life of the flora and fauna.
Jerry Tsatro Mordy, Accra, Ghana

We are conscious of nothing when we die. So, wherever we are buried after death does not matter.
Ibe Augustine, Nsukka, Nigeria

we have big problems from hyenas which love dead bodies
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA
In Southern Sudan, it is important that the dead are buried in proper places and protected, because we have big problems from hyenas which love dead bodies very much.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

My grandmother was buried in her room. It is a common belief that when someone is not brought back home for burial, the person might get lost when he or she is re-incarnated. That is why a lot of people would insist to be brought back, no matter where they are in the world.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

I don't think it matters if you are buried in a land which is miles away from your village, as long as your body is buried in a proper way.
Liban Abdullahi Hussein, Pakistan

I would like to be buried close to my father in Freetown. This will make it easier for my children and other relatives to visit the graves on special occasions to pour libation.
Mr Wilson, Sierra Leonean in USA





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