Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Burial Service

The first sunlight to rise above the village stirred everyone into action.Mourners from across the village began to approach Boipelo's home and those of us asleep in the cars awaoke bleary eyed. A couple of hundred people or so made their way into the yard and as the final arrangements were bing made for the burial service. To gasps Boipelo's coffin was brought from the room where she had been at rest overnight to a position just outside the entrance to her home. The elderly mourners had seats whilst the rest of us stood motionless in the background. The haunting silence was broken only by the sweet songs of the birds in the trees oblivious to goings on beneath them.

The burial service began when a few elderly gentlemen, dressed in suits that used to only see the light of day for one or two funerals a year, took up a position next to the coffin. I'm unsure which church the men were from - there are so many different churches across Southern Africa. I barely understood a word of Setswana but I had the impression that the service was on the African traditional side of Christianity. The Bible was certainly used but in the context of traditional beliefs. There are many churches across Botswana that have modified the Christianity imposed upon Africans by the white missionaries to ensure that the traditions and customs of the community are integrated into Christianity.

After some prayers a few friends and family members of Boipelo came forward to say a few words about the deceased. I rember a tearful Audrey speaking in a most touching way about her employee - but she had evidently not just lost an employee and a colleague but a beloved friend. The service at the homestead ended with body viewing. Mourners walked slowly passed Boipelo's coffin gazing upon her as she lay in peace. Some mourners were barely able to contain their grief, some women even had to be carried away to a place in the shade. Boipelo looked beautiful. Her unblemished complexion and immaculately tidy hair in place. There was even a faint smile upon her lips. As Sonny siad she looked too well to have died!

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