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Moses Obroku: Neglected in Life, Loved in Death

Moses Obroku

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I lost an elderly relative in the village a few years back. When his children got to the village, they decided to bury the body immediately.That practice is also known as ‘ground mortuary’. It is used to defer the usual funeral rites to a more financially convenient time. Where I come from, that is allowed in order not to put pressure on the deceased’s children.

But that is not the point here.

Shortly afterward, the children  met and agreed that about 1.5 million naira was needed for the funeral rites. That would not have been an issue, except that they requested my father’s household and other extended family members to contribute half that sum. That brazen request was very unfortunate. You see, though their father was quite elderly, he was neglected for the most part of his final years.

Elderly, lonely and sick, it was my aged parents that looked after him until the end. Now that he has rested with his ancestors and committed to the earth, rather than quietly go their way, his children mooted the idea of holding an elaborate burial ceremony. Otherwise, what do they need that kind of money for since he had been interred? My reaction to that demand was, had that amount been raised when the deceased was sick, he may not have died. We did not contribute any money for that Jamboree they wanted to have.

The enormous love people show for the dead around here is unimaginable. We have seen it time and again. A man gets abandoned in abject poverty in some rundown building. Yet when he passes, his children or relatives suddenly appear from the far-flung corners of the world to ‘pay their last respect’. Where they don’t have the resources to flaunt for the burial, they take loans and request extended family members to make mandatory contributions. The big question is why didn’t they take such loans or make such contributions to feed the elderly or sick parent while alive?

It is not uncommon for that rundown building to get a complete makeover in a matter of days. In situations where a deceased father was not able to build a house in his lifetime, children have come to hurriedly construct a new house in record three weeks. Just to show off to their friends or colleagues who may attend the burial that their father also owned a house in the village.

It would be nice if the deceased could go to the great beyond with such houses; or if those exotic coffins could secure paradise for them. When we think of it, it is a gross violation of moral code to neglect parents in their lifetimes only to adore them in death.  Children who never bothered caring for their folks suddenly begin to shed crocodile tears during the burials. Many people live the good life in cities or even abroad, while their parents groan with hardship in rural areas.

The joke is always on such children when they show up in the villages for burials. The members of their communities can be heard during such burials discussing how such parents were neglected. They surreptitiously mock the children, while consuming the ogogoro (local gin) and other booze that flows endlessly at Wake keeps. The pomp and fanfare at such funerals are visible to all. Undertakers could be seen gyrating with the expensive casket of the deceased, as trumpets sound their praises.

In communities where they still hold truth sacred, they often boo the children over the hardship their deceased parent suffered. If the dead could see, I wonder how such parents would feel at the unrestrained show of wealth at their burials.

What I find difficult to understand is the rationale behind hurriedly refurbishing a house or constructing one before a burial. If it was not a shame for such parents to live in decrepit houses, why should it be one during the burial? Does it not prove that such renovations are done to save face from visitors that would attend the burial?

And why is it such a taboo that one’s father did not build a house in his lifetime? Would it not be more relevant that parents lived their final days in decent accommodation (even if it was rented) and were well taken care of? When they were sick, that there was provision for adequate treatment? That they had quality meals to eat and were well clothed? Surely those things count far more than a house constructed in a fortnight, while the diseased, malnourished body of the parent lay cold in the mortuary.

I am not saying people should not have lavish burial ceremonies. Joseph in the bible threw a lavish state burial for his father Jacob. It took forty days to embalm him and seventy days of national mourning. That was before a high-level delegation followed him abroad for burial (Genesis 50:2-14). But let us not forget that Joseph was Prime Minister of the most powerful nation then.

If children of a deceased can afford such and they wish to make a statement with the burial in that community, they should feel free. But they should not make such show offs at the expense of the good life their parents should have had. It is simply immoral.  People show their religious devotion like they intend to bribe God, while their parents live under shameful conditions in villages.

The thunder that is going to fire some children soon is still circling the galaxy gathering force.

In Ephesians 6:2-3, the Bible declares “‘honor your father and mother’-which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth“. I know some parents too may have set themselves up for neglect by their children with their past behaviors. But surely they can be loved from a distance regardless and taken care of now they are weak and vulnerable.

Can we do a reality check? When was the last time we called or provided for our parents, siblings who live away from us? And it doesn’t matter if your folks are well off. No one is too rich to receive an act of kindness. Can we please reach out to them today and give them ‘continued respect’ rather than wait for them to die so we could ‘pay our last respect’?

In the end, it is how well our folks lived that they would be remembered for. Surely not by the kind of lavish burial they were given.

Photo Credit: Rmarmion | Dreamstime.com

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku

16 Comments

  1. Damsel

    June 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Please tell them, nice article.

  2. S

    June 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Oro lo so! Too true. I feel bad for a sibling who is making all efforts to fray ties with my parents for unnecessary and petty reasons – rarely taking their calls or sending them funds for upkeep (not that they’re poor, but it’s the standard for working offspring in my home). The annoying thing is I know that if – God forbid – one of my parents die tomorrow he’ll cry like the only bereaved. I don’t understand why people find it hard to realise that if you’re lucky, you only have your parents for a finite amount of time.

  3. BigJoy

    June 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    You speak the truth Moses, i ve always told my mom that as long as i m on the earth and she s here, as the lord helps me, she will not lack. i might not be able to give her the best best things but i ll surely make life comfy for her so that its not a case of i should have done this before she passed on.

    People need this reality check. i remember one Nigerian movie in the 90s, the advert went “Died Wretched ! Buried in 3.2Million naira casket” – I cant remember the title now but it went that way. Same story still playing out in real life today.

  4. Iwamu

    June 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I grew up in one room apartment with my parents and siblings in Lagos, as soon I got to understand that life could actually be better I vowed to work hard and take care of my hard working mother, I can’t count how many jobs that woman did just so we could have a decent living and good education, God!!!!! She is amazing.

    My driving force all my life is to not disappoint her and make her comfortable.

    I want to build her house but I can’t do that just yet and u don’t want to wait till I have millions before I take care of her but I’m a bit comfortable so now I’m looking for a very good affordable 2-3 bedroom flat for her in Ikeja area. I have tried on my own but is not yielding any positive results or maybe I just don’t know how to go about it.

    So Good people of BN, Kindly help a young sister out in helping to give her mom a comfortable life by recommending an agent or any tip in getting a good (but most importantly a very affordable) accommodation in Lagos.
    Thank you and I’m sorry for the long epistle, lol.
    my email is [email protected] and I’ll also be reading feedback or comments if there’s any. Thanks.

  5. Somto

    June 5, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    God bless you for this article

  6. mywifeisfiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine

    June 5, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for this write up Moses! i lost my job 2 years ago, and in one moment i saw the possibility of grace to grass. Although i have been back on my feet and waxing at my “NOT SO NEW” Job (thanks be to GOD), still looking to switch industries though. I asked myself one question; how much did i help my parents when i had it? i made one resolve to do better when i got a new job and i have never looked back. My parents are a little above average and could in most cases do without help and i think that clouded my judgement for a while. I am a happier man for the little i do for them every month; and i know that if this train stops i would be able to answer the question i asked myself 2 years ago.

  7. Diamond

    June 5, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Very good topic. Thank you for writing this

  8. J

    June 5, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Very true…..

    When we honour them, we do whats best for them whilst they are still alive. In turn, they bless us and then our days will be long and blessed on the earth.

  9. Ivie Karen

    June 5, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Very true. Great article

  10. joy

    June 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I rather take gud care of my parent while they are alive not when they gone to mother earth,we thank God for the gift of life,dis my oga omo is too talanted i gv it to u.

  11. Kelvin

    June 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Interesting read… it’s extremely sad to see the way some children treat their parents… very important lesson for all to learn from this.. The thunder that is going to fire some children soon is still circling the galaxy gathering force.. #my best part.

  12. ib

    June 6, 2017 at 2:18 am

    True…..well done….

  13. Mykel Isholabode

    June 6, 2017 at 2:23 am

    Most people know the right thing to do but we always want to conform and keep up with the Jonses. So throw lavish party. I’ve witnessed where a rich man’s mother lived in penury in the same house with the man and family. She died and lo-the reigning superstar musician was on d band stand. No be today- he don tey. ? sad but it’s our way.

  14. Bubbles

    June 6, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Brilliant article!

    Many beg, borrow and steal to have a befitting burial.

    Many even have the funeral o credit and end up paying the debt over a long period.

    Then they cry fake tears t the funeral……. did you look after them alive?

  15. Rezzy Afolabi

    June 6, 2017 at 11:49 am

    A very good one. of what use is building a mansion for the dead? Thanks for this reminder

  16. Southernbelle

    June 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

    this article is so true. for me my parents are doing very well, as a matter of fact i work for my father. before i got married and started having kids, i would always travel with them to help out when they had to go for their medicals abroad and all. initially, i felt could be doing more like having fun with friends but then i started to realise when we go on these trips and i cook for them or even get them a glass of water, just the way they would say ”thank you my daughter” or ”Nne God bless you” made me realise that money is not everything and maybe this is even better than being able to buy them a ticket as i certainly cannot afford to buy them the kind of ticket they can afford to buy for themselves.
    so yes it is very important to give our all, whatever it maybe while we still can.

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