Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Funeral

Pa Taku passed away leaving a void in the church here in Limbe but also his dying request left a big statement on the community here. Pa Taku reached a point in his life long ago were he turned from the "Traditions" of his tribe, meaning witchcraft and juju, and chose to totally surrender to God. His life and the lives of his children were forever changed by that decision. He refused to take his children back to the village for induction ceremonies that included witchcraft and a cutting on their face to show they belonged but instead handed his youngest boy over to the Chamberlins as their boy, this was Terrance. He raised his children in the church and stood quietly for the way of the cross.
At his death he reminded them that he had left the old ways and didn't want a traditional funeral but a Christian funeral. This might seem like a simple thing to the reader but it was quite complicated. The family from the village refused to help with the finances when they were told it would be a Christian funeral and that they would not be allowed to do their dancing and drum playing to summon the spirits, neither would they be allowed to add their juju and idols into the casket. This lack of support was a burden for the family but the church and Christian friends stepped in to help.
The week of the funeral there were 3 smaller gatherings outside his house to have scripture reading, songs, a message, and prayers with the family, during this time his body remained in the mortuary. Then on Friday morning the family and church went to the mortuary to claim his body and carry it in his coffin to the house. The church held service until 11pm that night then it was handed over to the family. The village families had come and there was much drinking, dancing, and loud music through the night for his wake, as is custom.
In the morning the men go out to the graveyard to dig his grave (also custom). There was concern that the family was going to still try to force their traditions so when the pastor and church leaders went to escort the casket from the house they first sealed it so it could not be reopened. The casket was then carried to the church for the final service. It went very well and was well attended by the community.
Following the service the casket was loaded into a van and driven down the hill just a bit to the cemetery. The family and friends walked. At the graveyard Pastor Eco committed his body to the ground and then told everyone they were not to move while the casket was lowered into the ground by the men (this was the moment of greatest concern because at Pa Taku's sons funeral several years before his family had held him back while they opened the casket and put in their juju and idols against the fathers wishes). Bro. Peter began to lead in some songs and, with one man in the hole and the others lowering it to him, the casket was finally settled in place. The men then began to cover the casket and fill in the grave. After the dirt came large stones to protect it. They also placed 4 tall sticks at each corner to mark its place. With one final word of warning by Bro. Eco against anyone disturbing the grave, it was finished. The pastor and church had held a very lovely service for this man and it was a wonderful example to the family and community that old things are past away, Pa Taku was made new and followed Christ even to the grave.

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