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We Ought to Make Specific Burial Invitations a Normal Thing

In as much as how burials are somber affairs, one cannot deny that a burial is also a celebration of a life lived. Whether long or short, peaceful or troubled, happy or sad, a life was lived and it is only proper that it is commemorated in a manner that would please the deceased. Hence, the importance of keeping our loved ones close enough to know who or what they would not want at their send off ceremony.


In Africa, a majority of people treat burial ceremonies very different from other ceremonies. In most cases, burials are arranged with zero regard for the deceased and full regard for those attending. However, it is shocking that Africans feel entitled to attend funeral ceremonies without putting much consideration into their relationship with the deceased. It is also somewhat annoying that burials are often open affairs. Meaning, that anyone who knew the deceased, was related to the deceased or shared mutual friends with the deceased is allowed to attend their send-off.

Burial ground
Burial ground. Photo| Everplans

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On the other hand, it is acknowledged that most Africans would have a hard time normalizing sending out invite-only burial invitations. This is because, a majority of Africans have not normalized planning their send-off. As a result, when one dies, funds to facilitate burial arrangements are welcomed from all and sundry including people who did not even know the deceased. For a ceremony whose entire theme revolves around paying final respects, it is quite disrespectful to have just anyone attend.

When Zoleka Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandchild passed away, a list of people she did not want at her burial surfaced. Ndileka Mandela, Zoleka’s cousin confirmed the authenticity of the list, which to everyone’s shock included prominent members of the Mandela family. The list included; Mandla Mandela, Zenani Mandela sr, Zamaswazi Dlamini Mandela, Zinhle Mandela, Nsundu Madikizela, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, Mike Seakamela, Thiery Bashala and Leeroy Andie Cana (her baby daddy). Moreover, Zoleka further noted down that Mandla Mandela, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo and Mike Seakamela sexually abused her.

As opposed to Zoleka’s wishes, not only did some of these people attend her funeral but were also very much involved in her send-off arrangements. Zenani, Zoleka’s aunt, and her ex-husband Thiery Bashala, obtained a court interdict barring Zoleka from being buried in the Mandela Burial Estate. After much family drama, Zoleka Mandela’s body was laid to rest on Friday at Four Ways Memorial Park in Johannesburg. Yet, reports indicate that she was not buried in the Mandela plot next to her loved ones, including her late daughter.

It is quite seldom to witness drama-free burials in Africa. Nonetheless, everyone’s last wishes should be respected especially if they personally noted them down. Regardless of their reasons, it takes strength for one to come to terms with the reality of their death. One’s preferences on whom or what should be present at their send-off should not be disregarded simply because they are no more. If anything, burial wishes and invitations not only speak about the deceased character but also on those invited or not.

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The absurdity of wishing someone would rest in peace after defying their very last wish is laughable. As Africans come to terms with normalizing burial invitations, may they also be wise enough to honor and respect such invitations.


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