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CULTURAL DILEMMA: TO “RIP” OR TO NOT?, By Hassan Mohammed

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CULTURAL DILEMMA: TO “RIP” OR TO NOT?, By Hassan Mohammed

NEWISSUES, Abuja

Okay, another (in)famous person just died. And we are back to the same situation. Some of us are rejoicing, saying he deserve it; some are praying, and some are cautioning. Some like me are confused. I want to be politically, culturally and religiously correct. I want to be sensitive to the feelings, loss and hurt of others, but I want to be pragmatic. That confuse the heck out of me. So, most of what you will be reading on this post are repeats of what I said 30 months ago.

burial pix

Exactly two and a half years ago (April 23rd, 2013), I log on to social media, and social and traditional media were awash with eulogies for a woman, who as a blackman and an African, I considered to be one of the most evil to ever grace this world. Margaret Thatcher had died the previous day. I have no problem with the fact that black people, Africans, are praying for her to rest in peace. If they want lie to themselves, let them go ahead. My problem was with the kind encomiums they were pouring on this open and unrepentant racist. She was “charming”, “kind woman”, “great”, “heroic”, “legendary”, and “RESPONSIBLE!” That was just too much for me to take. I don’t mind the Brits saying that. But Africans?

burials

Now, I believe it is not only wrong and irresponsible to celebrate and gloat when people die, it is evil. It really is. For one, death is inevitable. We will all die. Two, death represent somebody’s or some people’s pain. And however we think of the dead, they are grand fathers, fathers, brothers, grand mothers, mothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews. Someone is missing them and is hurting. And three, our humanity dictate that we must be better than that. We must be better than the people we have problem with. And we are just as bad if we celebrate their deaths or if we go to town gloating.

Unfortunately, today’s Nigeria is in a state of angst. And rightly or wrongly our people pounce on the misfortune of their real or perceived enemies. Sadly, some celebrate deaths, they gloat and speak ill, not because the deceased has done anything wrong to them. They do that because the person is from a different tribe, speak different language or worship not their God. People openly wish death to other people on account of that. Soon as deaths are announced, there are always people ready to celebrate.

Problem is, same people I have seen on this anti-social media who in recent years have actually celebrated the deaths of Patrick Yakowa, Nasir El-Rufai’s kids, El-Zakzaky’s kids, and those crushed to death in Mecca are now telling others to simply pray for the dead and ignore what they did while alive or what they represent while alive.

They enjoined others to say “May Jannah Pirdausi be his/her abode” or “May he/she rest in the bosom of Jesus”. Well, I will not. I will not lie. What do we take God for? I will not celebrate. I will offer my silence only, not prayer. It is considered religious and African not to speak ill of the dead, but I’m really tired of lying to myself. We are expected to run amok with eulogies of the dead regardless of their conduct while they were alive. I don’t want to that.

A few years ago, a very wicked neighbour of mine died, and we were all expected to pray for him to “rest in pece”, even when everyone present knows that there was no way he would rest, let eternal alone in peace. We all know it will never happen. At the peak of my neighbour’s “career” of treachery and wickedness, my old man pled with him to change the way he treats people, because this same people he maltreats will be the ones who will accompany him to the grave. He was told that a lot of people in the community are not happy with him.

The man’s reply was “In basu birne ni ba ina makwabcin ko dan uwansu, dole su birne ni kar in dame su da wari”; which roughly translate as, “if they don’t bury me because I’m their neighbour or brother, they must bury me to avoid my stench!” And now he is dead and we were still expected to pray for him, and not speak ill of him. I’ll not do both. No prayer, no speaking ill.

I respect death, not the dead. Only if deserved. I’ll pray for good people not those I know to be bad. I believe that doing so is a waste of time. We were taught that on account of our prayers, the dead may enjoy some reprieve from punishment. But is it also not teachings of Islam and Christianity that we not expect the evil or wicked people among us to rest in peace? Can they escape God’s wrath just because I prayed for them? NO! Will good people suffer simply because I prayed that they suffer? Again, NO!

Truth is He is waiting for all of us with reward or punishment on account of our actions/inactions on earth. And may be I’m religiously and culturally naïve, I know I’m not, but what I will like to know is, does DO NOT SPEAK ILL OF THE DEAD also translate to you may LIE IN FAVOUR OF THE DEAD? I think not. I think if a man dies, we should just pray for him, since it is norm, or keep quiet. Because saying a man or woman represents what he is not is in itself a sin against God, for we are lying.

Pray for all our dead, if you choose to, but please do not demand that everyone must pray for them. I’ll be selective in my prayer. Count on me to never mock or celebrate deaths, and to never gloat. But if I have to speak about them, I’ll not lie. I’ll tell the truth. It doesn’t matter to me, what race the dead is, tribe or region they are from, or the religion or religious sect they belong. A good man is a good man in life and after. Dying does not change the persons that we were. It doesn’t. It just means it is over for us, and it is time to finally physically meet our maker. Prayer or no prayer, He will do His thing. I pity them, though, those who kill, maim or cause people to die due to their stealing. Because God will do them what he promised to do.

Come to think of it, how do we even begin to tell Jews to forgive/pray for Adolph Hitler, or Americans to pray for Osama bn Laden to rest in peace, or for Syrians to pray for Bashar Al-Assad or Cambodians to forgive or pray for Pol Pot to rest in peace when they die? Will Iraqi’s pray for Bush, Chenney, Wolfowitz etc who brought war to their country for no apparent reason other than to control their oil? Or the Congolese to forgive Sese Seko and pray that he is resting in peace?

Do we ever think Nigerians, especially parents of kids that died in that NIS sham employment test, will ever forgive or pray for Abba Moro and whoever had a hand in their deaths because suddenly he dies? What about Nigerians who lost loved ones due lack of drugs and other facilities in our hospitals or died o our roads, those who cannot send their kids to school etc because politicians, civil servants and military rulers have stolen the monies meant for that?

What should we say when Abubakar Shekau dies, or many of the evil-thieving public officials and politicians we have APC, PDP, APGA, LP etc? These are people who deliberately ensure that we all live a life of misery. I don’t think it is a realistic demand or expectation. It is not.

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