Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cry Die

Happy New Year to everyone. Peace seems so far away as we see the carnage in Pakistan and the assassination of a strong democratic female leader, Ms. Benazir Bhutto.
And in Africa that dying continues. My host mother goes from one funeral, called Cry Die, to the next. Dying is such a daily occurrence that people developed different coping strategies. First of all when someone dies everyone starts screaming and crying immediately. It sounds like they are screaming their anguish into the heavens and then they breath again. The Cry Die is like a wake. Sometimes it is a year after the person has passed away. It is a social MUST, people have to travel to the place, which cost energy and money and they have to bring gifts. The expectations are rather high, and everyone is obligated. The surviving family also has to provide for the guests drinks and food and the Juju's.
These are people in masks that dance wildly and their job is to appease the elders, the spirits and so on. Cry Dies can last 3 days non-stop singing, dancing, eating and drinking.
It is actually a happy occasion since by then the bereaved have moved on. Often they pick a relative and put this person in charge of the family duties of the deceased. This is an honor and is celebrated. Of course it comes with responsibilities.
In case a husband dies an animal is slaughtered and parts and pieces of the animal is given to the surviving widows (up to 6 wives are allowed by law) in an symbolic act of promising to provide for them after the husband passed on. Of course this is often not the case. Women are lawless and the husbands’ family has the say over her household, children, and so forth. Women often organize in supportive groups once they are abandoned by their in-laws.

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