Benue Community Revokes Traditional Church Burial Ceremony to Minimize Expenses of Bereaved Family


The Benue community recently abolished the traditional church burial ceremony aiming to minimize the expenses of the bereaved family. The resolution was immediately signed by the States president and their National Secretary.

Minimizing Expenses of Bereaved Family

Following the recent commemoration of the Otanufe Community National Day in Ingle mission, the Otanufe Community National Forum passed a five-point resolution, one of which said that in the future, there should be an explicit distinction in the neighborhood between a traditional funeral and a church burial. Sun News Online reported that the proposals passed and were given the title “Mode of Conducting Burials Abducted,” delighted in the adherence of the two practices to conform with the new mode of conducting funeral rites in the community. They also stated that in the future, people will no longer practice a hybrid burial that combines traditional funeral ceremonies with Christian burial practices.

Christian practice reportedly dictates that the deceased’s burial should occur in a church. This indicates that there will be no further desire for any additional goats, pigs, or other animals except the one that the relatives of the deceased will bring on the day of the last burial ceremony (OPIOTU). According to the resolutions signed by both the National President Clement Adah and the National Secretary Adoga Michael, the decision was made to deal with the age-old practice of honoring both traditional burial and church burial at the same time. It is reportedly vital to end these kinds of burial rites to limit the amount of needless tension that occurs during burial ceremonies in the community.

Also Read: Denied the Right to Rest: Nepali Christians Struggle to Find Burial Grounds for Their Deceased Loved Ones

Traditional Church Burials in Benue Community

Benue State, Nigeria, is home to a sizable population of Idoma people. It is the country of Benue’s second most commonly used language. As mentioned, it is also the second biggest indigenous community in Benue. Based on an article from Northpad, the Idoma funeral ceremony is typically followed by many traditional events and comprises several different procedures. Idoma territory has distinct burial practices for males and females, adolescents and children.

Once the bereaved family has consented to the date, the community elders will typically begin to organize the younger community members to start excavating the grave. Moreover, following or during digging, the younger community members are expected to receive a he-goat, food, and refreshments. As soon as the bereaved family has given their blessing to move through with the date, the community’s older members will typically begin organizing the younger members to excavate the grave. Following or during digging, the younger community members are expected to receive a he-goat, food, and refreshments.

On the other hand, as per Indoma Land, the preparations for the wake begin as soon as the body arrives at the elder’s home, and they continue until midnight when the wake gets underway. After the firing of gunshots from weapons known as Egbu’ja to signal the beginning of the wake, dance groups will continue to perform until approximately 3 or 4 in the morning. When the wake was finished, the immediate family members of the person who passed away, including relatives and in-laws, would go around and “spray” cash and give items to the dance groups. 

Furthermore, on the day of the funeral, the descendant of the elder gets washed by the Odumu cult/dance group in mid-morning. Women, children, and outsiders are not permitted to watch the washing of the body, and the ritual is performed in secret. Following the ritual bathing, the body is transported to the Itakpa, and at this point, women, children, and outsiders are permitted to enter.

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