Friday, October 28, 2005

At the cemetry

A large crowd had gathered at the graveside when we arrived. Over the shoulders of my fellow mourners I could see the canopy that covered Boipelo's grave. Next to the canopy was a large pile of earth and the hole of about two metres deep where Boipelo was to be buried. The undertakers had positioned the coffin into a hoist that would lower Boipelo's body into her grave at the appropriate moment. More prayers were said at the graveside but my overwhelming memory is of the wailing that grew more and more intense as the time approached where Boipelo would be lowered into the ground. Several women at the graveside collapsed and had to be escorted away. As Boipelo's body was lowered to into the grave the wailing incresed in volume as grief overwhelmed so many of the mourners.

Once Boipelo was in her grave the family members shovelled the first earth onto her coffin. The noise of the earth impacting on the wood of the casket led to further outpourings of grief. Soon the process of burying Boipelo intensified. The male memebers of the funeral party took it in turns to shovel the earth into the grave - I was quite surprised to see that the mourners buried the body themselves as in my own county it is a task that is usually left to the undertakers. The process of shifting earth onto the grave continued until a mound of at least a metre in height was above the grave.

The burial ended with the family placing flowers on the grave before all filed away in silence.

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