We on the streets are incensed with the new undesirable behaviour creeping in our society which not only undermines but also acts as an impediment to national cohesion and integration
What am I talking about you may ask? Well, for the past month or so, some politicians in the country have used funerals as platforms for throwing jabs at each other.
First to come into the limelight this year was Chewa Paramount Chief Lundu. Chewa chiefs had asked him as an elder brother, to make eulogies during a funeral ceremony of one of their own, the late Senior Chief Kabudula, in Lilongwe District. But when he opened his mouth, Lundu shocked many.
Theoretically a custodian of the Chewa culture, Lundu was supposed to mourn his brother Kabudula. But Lundu instead proclaimed that the ‘Mighty Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’ will never rule this country ever again, sentiments that angered both opposition party officials and MCP supporters.
Kabudula’s funeral ceremony was messed up and many were left shaking their heads. No wonder, instead of burying Kabudula, an angry MCP mob wanted to bury Lundu first.
We thought we have had enough drama and lessons learnt, but no. Last Thursday, a Cabinet minister Grace Obama Chiumia was at it again at Robson Watayachanga Chirwa’s funeral. The minister claimed MCP will remain in opposition if the party continues opposing without offering direction to be followed. This time, Obama had gone too far and MCP president Lazarus Chakwera felt MCP should not be raped without putting up a fight. Chakwera decided to directly respond to DPP’s insults at Chirwa’s burial ceremony on Friday by attacking both APM’s government and his Cabinet ministers. Two wrongs do not make a right!
On Saturday, commotion erupted yet again at the funeral of Senior Chief Lukwa’s mother after DPP governor in Kasungu Oswald Chirwa snatched a microphone from an MCP legislator, preventing him from giving his condolences. The development forced the relations to carry and run with the body to its resting place without a proper church service.
As I write, there are also reports that another party official was nearly beaten by some party youths at Helen Singh’s funeral in Blantyre.
Undoubtedly, funerals have become a serious political platform. Many politicians are attending funerals of people they do not know and sending condolences to families that they know not. In some instances, politicians have been given a chance to speak at funerals only to show ignorance about the deceased.
The social implication of politics at funerals is plain to see. At a time when people are mourning and consoling the bereaved, the last thing they want to hear is politics. Or is it?
A casual glance at Malawi’s social political landscape tells volumes as to why politicians resort to using the grave-side platform to speak their minds, sell ideas and settle political scores. Political gains are the overriding factor.
Many politicians find an appropriate forum in funerals because the attendance is always very good. We all know that most politicians cannot pull a crowd save for their wives, relatives, children and dogs. Hence, some politicians even request funerals to be put off to allow prominent politicians (their leaders) to attend. Politicians attending and helping (buying caskets, coffins and food) at the funeral is not a ‘crime’. Or is it? But it is the verbal fights that worry me.
The pace at which this is happening is so alarming that ordinary Malawians feel like the election fever is on our doorstep already, yet we have a year to go. Can’t we mourn our dead in peace? Is it not time we sober up and act more humanely? Where is ubunthu?
Word on the street is that, we should curtail this behaviour in order to build a stable, prosperous and harmonious nation. Politicisations of funeral ceremonies are in no doubt breeding intolerance and spreading hate speeches.
It is high time MCP and DPP, took their fights elsewhere. Keep politics out of funerals; they are solemn occasions.