“Covid Has Washed Away Our Traditions”

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

SENIOR citizens say the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced them to abandon their cultural burial practices and are worried that the spirits of the dead may not be resting peacefully.

Speaking at the National AIDS Council (NAC), The Voice of The Aged Covid-19 and HIV and webinar Thursday the senior citizens said the these measures were robbing them of their right to practice traditional rituals and bid farewell to their dear departed and this has negatively impacted on their local culture of doing things.

“Most of the dear departed bodies are being cleaned by strangers and we are worried that some of our traditions are not being done or followed as the whole process is now in the hands of the funeral parlour officials,” Gogo Tsitsi Kwashirai.

“We are worried that some of our relatives may be buried with eyes or open mouths which is a taboo in our culture, we the relatives and elders we are supposed to close them properly.”

“This is very difficult to accept but at least they must allow many relatives to view the deceased.”
According to the new normal no body viewing is allowed and bodies would not be taken home, corpses being buried where the death occurred as a measure to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
“I wholly support my colleague in our culture we are not supposed to bury someone with their eyes wide open and we have a side that we believe that the deceased must sleep facing,” Gogo Ennie Chekerwa said.

“So, we cannot bury someone with their eyes or mouth open because for us they will be demanding some answers before they are buried following health guidelines. Some of the measures include relatives being limited to only 30 people, and the lowering of the coffin into the grave by health and funeral parlour officials,” she added.

Sekuru Benjamin Munyawiri said Covid-19 has total destroyed our tradition.

“Even those who wish to be buried in their ancestral lands and perform some rituals, such as circulating the coffin, that is all gone because of Covid-19,” he said.

“But let everyone get vaccinated so that we eliminate this virus and we are back to our normal way of living.”
“But this will not happen soon because if you go to Highfield high density suburb ward 26 where I stay, beer halls are open all night long and the police are being bribed to keep a blind eye. Social distancing, sanitizing and vaccination is the only way for us to end this pandemic.”