Are you dead? Someone once said â€œMany people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.â€ â€• Benjamin Franklin. But for some time I have been thinking about this quote and wondering since I am past 25, I my really dead? But before I give my thought on this question I will like to point out that, I am neither a genius nor stupid, but I hope my writing makes you think. I adore pragmatic thinking and logic because I like to see things as they are, not just as I want them to be or have been told they should be. I abhor dogma. To be honest, sometimes my thinking is correct and other times it flies in the face of religion, tradition, superstition, and precondition. I question everything and I love to think because at the end of the day, I want to live my life to the fullest and with an open mind. I strongly believe that thinking is good, but at the same time; I do not believe that my thinking is how we should all think, because that way the world would be boring. I think for my own personal gain and entertainment, and then share whatâ€™s on my mind with others to give them some food for thought.
Last Sunday was a beautiful day; for once the weather was on its best behaviour, which is not something that happens very often (if you live in the Midwest, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re quite familiar with what Iâ€™m talking about. If not, ask my good friend google). With good weather, you expect most people to be outdoors with their friends and families for some good nyama choma and a drink, or even out in the pool (for those of us who become fish when the weather agrees).
But about 50 to 70 people decided to spend their beautiful day in an extraordinary way, which to them was fairly ordinary. (DISCLAIMER: This is just but my thought; do not attack me for it.) For just about three hours, this group of people in their mid-20s to early 50s had a heated debate about how they would be buried. The little info I was able to gather from the group aka Chama revealed that it was formed to help meet burial expenses for the members and their loved ones. (Just imagine your loved one calling you and asking how your afternoon was? and your response being that you spent it discussing burial finances for when you all finally die. Can you imagine their reaction?)
There is nothing wrong with planning things in advance, but with that being said; I canâ€™t help but wonder how much it really costs to bury someone, and does it deserve the attention and time that we devote to it? For us in diaspora we have a system that has been put into place to ensure that we never stop living and never think about death. With things such as life insurance, pre-paid funeral homes, cheap funeral plans, cremation, and donating your body for medical research is also an option. And for the loved ones that we left back home, who have no advantages in the system that we enjoy; it cost less than one double on minimum wage to buy them a descent coffin to send them six feet under. That is unless you want to show off and plan a burial fit for a king, when they lived a life of a peasant.
With that being said, I could not help but ponder about couple of things:
1. Over 50 people met and after putting their thoughts together, they could only come up with a Chama to bury the living? I say â€œbury the livingâ€ because I see no other reason why you would be raising funds to bury yourself if you are not dead.
2. Why not start an investment group, and with the money they raise and save waiting for the next person to die, invest it in things which will allow them to grow as a group e.g. business, education loans, charity, or even stocks? And with proceeds and good will generating from the investment, they would never have to worry about their burial.
3. What on this earth attracted people in their late twenties to agree to join a Committee for the sole purpose of planning how they will be buried? (I need to know who sold this idea to them because he or she would make an exquisite sales person.) Assuming they all live to the estimated life expectancy of 78.7 years, why would they decide to spend about 40 years (depending on how lucky they are) of their most productive years planning their burial?
4. What does this say about us as Africans? I can bet my life that this is not the only Chama that spends a considerable amount of time discussing their burial instead of ways to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. What happened to letting the dead bury the dead?
5. The other question I have been grumbling with is; what is the main reason behind why people in the diaspora join to bury the living dead group? Most of us would join such a group because it costs a considerable amount of money to send a dead body back home. But then I ask, why the hell would one bother spending over $10k to send anyoneâ€™s dead body home when they never even intended to go back home while they were still alive?? What value does a dead body add to the family or friends or society in general? Couldnâ€™t this money instead be spent on things that are of value to this world?
In conclusion, â€œMost people are alive but donâ€™t touch the miracle of being aliveâ€ (Thich Nhat Hanh). How can we be alive if we spend all our time thinking and planning about death and how we will be laid to rest once we actually die? it is my hope that all of us who belong to those Chamas will ask ourselves some tough questions about what our priorities are; are they worrying about death or ensuring that we live to the best of our ability by enjoying each day and living a life with purpose? I honestly believe that planning our burials constitute to a purpose, but there is no way we can enjoy life and live a fulfilling, purposeful life while simultaneously fundraising for our burials.