Two years today


Our last coffee shop outing...
Our last coffee shop outing…

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My precious Angel Child

Two years ago I lay next to you listening to your laboured breathing. You lay motionless in your bed. Your hands and feet were ice-cold. Your body was burning up with fever. Daddy and I counting the seconds between your breaths. My hand on your little heart and my head next to yours.

I remember whispering how much I love you; that there was nothing to be scared of…I felt your heart beat getting weaker and weaker; your breathing becoming more shallow by the minute.
When your little heart stopped beating my heart broke into a million pieces. As your soul soared mine plummeted into a hell hole of grief and despair.

I knew that it would be hard but nothing in the world could have prepared me for the pain that followed. My heart aches for you and I would give anything to hold you one more time. To hear that mischievous giggle…

We miss you so much. Our family will never be the same again.

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Alzheimer’s Patient’s Prayer


By Carolyn Haynali

Wow we actually look quite alike

Pray for me I was once like you.
Be kind and loving to me that’s how I would have treated you.
Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse I had a life and a
dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand
what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of
which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.
Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.
Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.
Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s; I was full of life,
I had a life, laughed and loved you.

Think of how I am now, My disease distorts my thinking, my
feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can’t tell you.
Think about my future because I used too.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.
Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and
can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,
but Alzheimer’s.

I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I
still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.
The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will
live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered
in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-08-20/poem-alzheimers-patients-prayer/

Rest in peace Daddy

My First Message from Heaven


I have no doubt that my child is in Heaven.  Vic lived hell everyday of her life.  Maybe her journey on earth was a purifying process….I don’t know.  What I do know is that Vic’s life was a lesson to most people.

Nobody can suffer a lifetime of devastating pain, indignity, loss and then still go to hell…This was her hell.  It was a hell that she suffered and lived with dignity.  She never stopped smiling.  Often through her tears…but she smiled.  Vic lived every second that she breathed.

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I do believe that Vic is running free in Heaven.  Running for the first time in her life… free of pain and suffering!

A year ago, today, we had Vic’s memorial service.  It was incredibly sad and beautiful…it was also the day I received my first message from Heaven.

I RECEIVED MY SIGN!

ImageTuesday morning arrived.  It had been a very long weekend.  I battled with the eulogy and my broken heart.  Everybody kept looking at me to make sure I was okay…  Patting my hand and saying: “It is going to be okay!”

It is never going to be okay.  Nothing can erase my child’s suffering and death from my mind.  In time I suppose I will learn to live with the pain and longing, but it is NOT GOING TO BE FLIPPEN OKAY!!!!! EVER!!!

I have slept in Vic’s bed since her death to “demystify” her room.  I also feel close to her.  I can smell her in her pillow; I spray her perfume before I go to sleep.

After Vic passed and before the undertakers arrived I lay next to her lifeless little body. I spoke to her non-stop.

“Sweetie, If your soul is hovering in this room I want a clear sign from you that you are still with me…”

I woke early and prepared for the lousiest day of my life.  I started chewing “Rescue” tablets.  It was the only way I was going to get through the memorial service without making an absolute fool of myself.  The boys looked so handsome!  Their mom would have been very proud of her boys!

At the church the hearse was parked at the front door.  Vic was already inside the church.  A huge photo was on an easel, and at least a hundred candles were burning around the casket.  The flowers were beautiful.  Vic would have approved.

I sat in the pew with tears running down my face.  I could not believe that my baby girl was lying in that casket!  That I would never see her, never hold her again, never hear her voice again.  Sitting in church I could not remember her pain and suffering only my own.

The service was beautiful!  The minister spoke from his heart and shared his memories of a brave young woman with almost 200 people.  He said that not many people are ever prepared for death, but Vic was to such an extent that she had planned her entire memorial service.  He wiped a tear from his eyes where he spoke of Vic’s journey.

As instructed by Vic we sang “Amazing Grace” and “How great Art Thou”.  I managed to sing – not a pretty sound though!  My voice was all over!  Vic would have giggled and told me that I sound like my mom!

I did the eulogy with the two boys standing on either side of me.  At times my voice wavered and at times even I could hear how strong I sounded.

And then it was time to carry the coffin to the hearse for the FINAL part of Vic’s journey.  I could hear the boys quietly sobbing as we carried Vic on her final journey.  I felt my face contort with grief and tears.

The coffin was so light!  I remember thinking “I wonder if Vic is really in the coffin….”

We lay single roses on the coffin.  The two boys’ red roses and the rest of us pink….  Kari and Simone (Vic’s nieces) came up and stroked the coffin.  They sobbed uncontrollably.  I could hear people crying.

The minister said a final prayer, and it was time for Vic to leave.

The undertaker solemnly hugged me and closed the rear door of the hearse.  It opened…. He pushed the coffin into position and relocked the locking mechanism.  He closed the door again.  Once again the door closed and opened!

“Vic is here and she is telling us she is going no where!” I said

People laughed nervously….

The undertaker unlocked the lock and pushed the coffin into position again.  The undertaker locked the locking mechanism for the 3rd time.  He closed the door. This time it remained closed.  Vic had gotten her message through to me…I received my sign.

My precious child is still with me.

Awards evening


Tonight Jon-Daniel will be honoured for his brilliant school marks.  I suspect that he will be awarded honours for the second time in his highschool career.  Vic so desperately wanted to be there last year.  It was not to be.

This year, I know, she will be there cheering for her precious son.

Congratulations my Genius! Oumie is so proud of you!!!!

Jon-Daniel's prizegiving - 2012
Jon-Daniel’s prizegiving – 2010.  
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Jon-daniel helping prepare his Mommy’s injection
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Jon-Daniel “showing” his mommy his honours tie – 16.1.2013
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15.1.2013 Prizegiving

 

 

One year today


My precious child

Somehow 31,536,000 seconds or even 525,600 minutes makes far more sense than 8760 hours; 365 days; 52 weeks and one day or 1 year…

If feels as if a lifetime of sorrow has passed since you stopped breathing.  If feels as if it has been a lifetime since I held you in my arms.  It feels as if I have cried an ocean of tears.

In the past year I have aged.  I have gained weight. I have existed. A year ago my life ended.  The boys and I still burn candles for you.

I am still filled with rage.  I know you were born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta but doctor arrogance caused you so much pain, suffering and indignity.  I know that you would more than likely have died before me but perhaps with less suffering?

I will always miss you.  I will always remember your smile, your laugh, your bravery. I will never forget how you fought to live.

Today I want to thank you for my beautiful grandsons.  Thank you for remaining my little girl through-out your life.  Thank you for fighting for so long.  You were such a warrior!

I thank God that you came home to die.  I thank God that I had the privilege of caring for you.  I thank God that He entrusted me with something as pure and precious as you.

I am grateful that you are no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting.  As much as I miss your laugh I do not miss your pain filled tears.  I am grateful precious baby that your suffering is over.

I miss your company.  I miss our late night chats, drinking untold cups of tea/coffee.  I miss your text messages, your telephone calls, your shuffling footsteps down the passage…  the smell of smoke alerting me that you are awake and sitting on your step…

I miss the boys laughter.  I miss the joy that you brought into our lives.

We will continue to honour your memory – every day of our lives.  Your legacy will live on in each and every person that is allowed to live until they die with dignity.

I love you Angel Child with every fiber in my body.

Your Silent Dreams by April D. Parker
I held you as you were sleeping…
All the while I sat weeping….
Gazing at your beautiful features…
For you were one of God’s Creatures…

I loved you from the minute you existed to be…
Living inside me, Dreaming silently…
You were always a part of my life…
Even before you saw day-light…

Looking down at you, I kissed your warm little hand…
Knowing you had passed on to the Promised Land…
You, my sweet baby, are forever my Child…
The fact you were in my life makes it worth while…

Undeniably I have hope…
The thought of seeing you again allows my spirit to lift…
I thank God to have had what time I had with you…
Love and cherish you I shall always do…

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Another birthday…..one year ago


Yesterday I celebrated (another) birthday.

Late Saturday night Vic’s restlessness was indicative that she was determined to be the first to wish me.  At 11.30 pm she came through and said “another half hour….. I want to be the first to wish you Mommy.  I just want 30 minutes alone with you on your birthday…”

“No problem angel.  I’ll switch the kettle on.” I said

“I will be back in a minute” she said

I made coffee and checked some e-mails.  At 12:00pm I expected her to come through singing “Happy Birthday” but no Vicky….

I went through to her room and the poor baby had fallen asleep on her bed…

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Jon-Daniel came through and brought me a cup of tea on a tray, with a gift and card and a rose!  “Happy birthday Oumie” he said.

He had bought a book I have wanted to read for a while “The Elephant Whisperer” – It is an inspiring, true life drama of a herd of wild African elephants on an African game reserve. The herd is destined to be shot for dangerous behaviour when this special human being, Anthony, intervenes to try to save their lives.  I was so thrilled that he remembered.

Just before 01:00 am Vic shuffled into my TV lounge.

“Oh Mommy, I am so sorry I fell asleep.  I thought I would just close my eyes for 5 minutes whilst you make the coffee…”

We sat and chatted for a while.  Vic shared her good wishes with me and we just sat and spoke.  We spoke about our very special mother-daughter relationship.  We spoke about years gone by and how blessed we are to have this time together. (I cannot imagine Vic married and living in someone else’s home on her final journey.)

The girls, Esther and Lani, arrived at 10:00am with gifts, a cooked meal, dessert and cake.  The grandchildren set the table…  My sister Lorraine and dear friend Judy arrived bearing armloads of gifts.  The grandchildren had written me letters and cards – it was so special.  Vic bravely cooked a pot of rice and had lunch with the family.  All the grandchildren swam and played tug-a-war!   We laughed and joked.

It was a perfect day.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

Esther and Lani planned the day to start early whilst Vic is at her best.  As the day progresses so her energy levels decrease.  Immediately after lunch Vic went to bed.  She was in so much pain and absolutely exhausted.

All the grandchildren wanted to stay.

Sunday evening we Skyped my son and his family in the UK.  Vic and Danie spoke.  Vic and Danie Jnr have a special bond.

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Twenty two years ago I married Danie Sr and his four children; Esther 23, Lani 18, Liza 16 and Danie 11…  Danie married me and one, sick, very protected, spoilt brat, Vicky, aged 16.  Vic and Danie Jnr were the two kids who lived with us.  Vic embraced her new family.  (I was petrified of the children!)

Vic’s siblings have been amazing over the years.  I could never have coped as well as I do if it was not for their love, support and encouragement.  The siblings are fiercely protective of their little sister.

Vic and Danie Jnr spoke for at least 10 minutes last night.  It was a sad conversation between a brother and his older, little sister.

“I miss you so much Little Brother” Vic said

“I miss you too Vic.  How are you feeling?”  Jnr asked

“I am battling Boetie (Little Brother) Vic said

“We are coming to visit in April then I will see you Vic”

“I don’t know if I am going to make it to April” Vic said

“Just hang in there Vic.  It is not that long to April…” Jnr consoled her

“I know but I am tired.  I am just missing you” Vic cried

“I will fly over for a weekend.  I want to see you again” Danie promised

Vic was so tired last night.  Her little body cannot handle parties anymore.  She tries so hard.  This weekend we will have Jared’s 16th birthday.  It is only his birthday on the 26th but most of his friends are away for Christmas so we have his friend party an early in December.

I know this will more than likely be another last for Vic.

The first teacher is Mother


“We come into this world curious and fearless. It takes a wise and patient teacher to help us explore this huge and wondrous place with minimum risk and maximum learning – that first teacher is Mother.” Anonymous

 

Godliness of a mother


“The woman who creates and sustains a home and under whose hands children grow up to be strong pure men and women, is a creator second only to God”   Helen Marta Fiske Hunt Jackson

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Vic raised two magnificent young men.  They have beautiful manners, they are respectful to their elders and especially women.  They are gentle, compassionate and like their mom they speak badly of no one.  They have a wonderful set of values and morals.

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Vic had so little time to raise her boys.  She spent most of their lives in a hospital bed or in bed at home.  The boys grew up doing their homework in her room, helping her cook… Jared was four years old when he made his (and his brothers) bed.  “Because Mommy’s back is sore”…

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The boys are old souls.  They have witnessed so much pain and suffering… They have lived with, and cared for, a dying mother.

There was almost a Godliness to the way Vic raised her boys.  Vic taught the boys to love their Lord.  It shows in their pure hearts.  Her legacy lives on through and in her boys.

I am so proud of you my Angle Child.  You did good!

 

A mother’s love….. Day 5 of 48


A mother’s love is like God’s love;                                                                                                    He loves us not because we are loveable,                                                                                      but because it is in His nature to love,                                                                                          and because we are his children.  
Earl Riney
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You taught me love.  You taught me honesty.  You taught me to love unconditionally.  You taught me how to forgive and how to be strong.  You are the strongest person I have ever known.  You gave me strength when I was weak.  When times were sad and tough you reminded me to be grateful for the small things in life.  You taught me how to be myself.  Most of all you taught me about life and how to live. 

 

Motherhood – Day 2 of 48


“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” Robert Browning

at birth

Jared and his Mommy
Jared and his Mommy  

Vic was born to be a mommy. As a toddler she would “discuss” her babies names with me….

“What are you going to be when you grow up Sweetie?”  I would ask

“A mommy” she would reply

There were no if’s or but’s about it as far as she was concerned.  She started “designing” her wedding dress and planning her family at the age of three.  Vic had no ambitions of ever becoming a doctor, lawyer or politician…She only ever wanted to be a Mommy.  Vic had no half-measures in life.  Whatever she did she did with passion…

She loved and lived passionately.

She revelled in the joy of motherhood.  Vic was a passionate mother.  Over protective, caring, loving…

Jon-Daniel and his Mommy
Jon-Daniel and his Mommy

Motherhood took a terrible toll on her body.  Not once did she regret her decision to have the boys – despite the price she paid.

To God


“To God, I hope you look after Auntie Vicky. She is very sick. Love Chloe Alexa Burger” My precious 5 year old UK granddaughter wrote this…her mommy found it in her school satchel last week.

To God

Dear God, hear the words of a five-year old.

Stepping Stone Hospice


This week I truly realised that the Stepping Stone Hospice patients are “our” people. Our friends. They are not strangers. They are people we know from church, they are our neighbours, our friends; friends of friends… Our Hospice cares for our own. We are not “removed” from the community.

We however continually grieve.

Stepping Stone Hospice is just so different. We are not a group of detached, paid staff doing a job. This is a Hospice driven by the tears of its members. It understands the fear in the hearts of its dying and its survivors. We see our loved ones

We have lost our fear of death. We have not become immune to the tears of our community and friends. We truly live and experience “Ubuntu” every day.

A little old lady has shuffled into our offices with R150.00 ($15.00). She told us that when the interest rate went up she would be in a position to increase her monthly contribution to our “worthy cause”. How amazing would it be if everyone in our community contributed $15.00 a month?

I love spending time in our building. I feel close to Vic.

Our Hospice journey is a healing journey. We have been helped over the stepping stones…now it is our turn to take the hand of another and help them over the stepping stones. What an amazing privilege. All built upon our own tears and the deaths of our loved ones.

Together We Walk the Stepping Stones
by Barb Williams

Come, take my hand, the road is long.
We must travel by stepping stones.
No, you’re not alone. I’ve been there.
Don’t fear the darkness. I’ll be with you.

We must take one step at a time.
But remember, we may have to stop awhile.
It’s a long way to the other side
And there are many obstacles.

We have many stones to cross.
Some are bigger than others.
Shock, denial, and anger to start.
Then comes guilt, despair, and loneliness.

It’s a hard road to travel, but it must be done.
It’s the only way to reach the other side.

Come, slip your hand in mind.
What? Oh, yes, it’s strong.
I’ve held so many hands like yours.
Yes, mine was once small and weak like yours.

Once, you see, I had to take someone’s hand
In order to take the first step.
Oops! You’ve stumbled. Go ahead and cry.
Don’t be ashamed. I understand.

Let’s wait here awhile so that you can get your breath.
When you’re stronger, we’ll go on, one step at a time.
There’s no need to hurry.

Say, it’s nice to hear you laugh.
Yes, I agree, the memories you shared are good.
Look, we’re halfway there now.

I can see the other side.
It looks so warm and sunny.
On, have you noticed? We’re nearing the last stone
And you’re standing alone.
And look, your hand, you’ve let go of mine.
We’ve reached the other side.

But wait, look back, someone is standing there.
They are alone and want to cross the stepping stones.
I’d better go. They need my help.
What? Are you sure?
Why, yes, go ahead. I’ll wait.

You know the way.
You’ve been there.
Yes, I agree. It’s your turn, my friend . . .
To help someone else cross the stepping stones.

 

A Mother’s Crown


Vic, a wonderful mother...
Vic, a wonderful mother…

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Heaven lit up with His mighty presence,
As all the Angels looked down,
Today the Lord was placing the jewels,
In all the mother’s crowns.

As He held up a golden crown,
As all the mother’s looked on,
He said in His gentle voice,
I just want to explain each stone.

He held the first gem in His hand
But the radiance couldn’t match His own.
For He was the light of Heaven,
Reflecting off each of the stones.

The first gem, He said, is an emerald,
And it’s for endurance alone,
For all the nights you waited up,
For your children to come home,

For all the nights by their bedside,
You stayed till the fever went down,
For nursing every little wound,
I add this emerald to your crown.

A ruby, I’ll place by the emerald,
For leading your child in the right way,
For if you hadn’t…

View original post 225 more words

Africa Prayers for the Dead


“Christianity is the predominant religion in EuropeRussiathe Americas, the PhilippinesEast TimorSouthern AfricaCentral AfricaEast Africa and Oceania.[8] There are also large Christian communities in other parts of the world, such as Central Asia and the Middle East, where Christianity is the second-largest religion after Islam. The United States of America has the largest Christian population in the world, followed by Brazil and Mexico.[9]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_by_country


Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century. The share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, while in the Asia-Pacific region it rose from 3% to 7%. Christianity today – unlike a century ago – is truly a global faith.http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/

Despite the increase in the number of Christians in Africa superstition still plays a big role. 

In the religions of Africa, life does not end with death, but continues in another realm. The concepts of “life” and “death” are not mutually exclusive concepts, and there are no clear dividing lines between them. In many African languages, the words “we are living a little,” means that the individual is ill, and their “level of life” is very low. Death does not alter or end the life or the personality of an individual, but only causes a change in its conditions. This is expressed in the concept of “ancestors,” people who have died but who continue to “live” in the community and communicate with their families.

 

The African Concept of Death

Death, although a dreaded event, is perceived as the beginning of a person’s deeper relationship with all of creation, the complementing of life and the beginning of the communication between the visible and the invisible worlds. The goal of life is to become an ancestor after death. This is why every person who dies must be given a “correct” funeral, supported by a number of religious ceremonies. If this is not done, the dead person may become a wandering ghost, unable to “live” properly after death and therefore, a danger to those who remain alive. It might be argued that “proper” death rites are more a guarantee of protection for the living than to secure a safe passage for the dying. There is ambivalence about attitudes to the recent dead, which fluctuate between love and respect, on the one hand, and dread and despair on the other, particularly because it is believed that the dead have power over the living.

Many African people have a custom of removing a dead body through a hole in the wall of a house, and not through the door. The reason for this seems to be that this will make it difficult (or even impossible) for the dead person to remember the way back to the living as the hole in the wall is immediately closed. Sometimes the corpse is removed feet first, symbolically pointing away from the former place of residence. A zigzag path may be taken to the burial site, or thorns strewn along the way, or a barrier erected at the grave itself because the dead are also believed to strengthen the living. Many other people take exceptional pains to ensure that the dead are easily able to return to their homes, and some people are even buried under or next to their homes.

Many people believe that death is the loss of a soul, or souls. Although there is recognition of the difference between the physical person that is buried and the nonphysical person who lives on, this must not be confused with a Western dualism that separates “physical” from “spiritual.” When a person dies, there is not some “part” of that person that lives on—it is the whole person who continues to live in the spirit world, receiving a new body identical to the earthly body, but with enhanced powers to move about as an ancestor. The death of children is regarded as a particularly grievous evil event, and many people give special names to their children to try to ward off the reoccurrence of untimely death.

There are many different ideas about the “place” the departed go to, a “land” which in most cases seems to be a replica of this world. For some, it is under the earth, in groves, near or in the homes of earthly families, or on the other side of a deep river. In most cases, it is an extension of what is known at present, although for some people it is a much better place without pain or hunger. The Kenyan scholar John Mbiti writes that a belief in the continuation of life after death for African people “does not constitute a hope for a future and better life. To live here and now is the most important concern of African religious activities and beliefs. . . . Even life in the hereafter is conceived in materialistic and physical terms. There is neither paradise to be hoped for nor hell to be feared in the hereafter” (Mbiti 1969, pp. 4–5).

The African Concept of the Afterlife

Nearly all African people have a belief in a singular supreme being, the creator of the earth. Although the dead are believed to be somehow nearer to the supreme being than the living, the original state of bliss in the distant past expressed in creation myths is not restored in the afterlife. The separation between the supreme being and humankind remains unavoidable and natural in the place of the departed, even though the dead are able to rest there and be safe. Most African people believe that rewards and punishments come to people in this life and not in the hereafter. In the land of the departed, what happens there happens automatically, irrespective of a person’s earthly behavior, provided the correct burial rites have been observed. But if a person is a wizard, a murderer, a thief, one who has broken the community code or taboos, or one who has had an unnatural death or an improper burial, then such a person may be doomed to punishment in the afterlife as a wandering ghost and may be beaten and expelled by the ancestors or subjected to a period of torture according to the seriousness of their misdeeds, much like the Catholic concept of purgatory. Among many African peoples is the widespread belief that witches and sorcerers are not admitted to the spirit world, and therefore they are refused proper burial—sometimes their bodies are subjected to actions that would make such burial impossible such as burning, chopping up, and feeding them to hyenas. Among the Africans, to be cut off from the community of the ancestors in death is the nearest equivalent of hell.

The concept of reincarnation is found among many people. Reincarnation refers to the soul of a dead person being reborn in the body of another. There is a close relationship between birth and death. African beliefs in reincarnation differ from those of major Asian religions (especially Hinduism) in a number of important ways. Hinduism is “world-renouncing,” conceiving of a cycle of rebirth in a world of suffering and illusion from which people wish to escape—only by great effort—and there is a system of rewards and punishments whereby one is reborn into a higher or lower station in life (from whence the caste system arose). These ideas that view reincarnation as something to be feared and avoided are completely lacking in African religions. Instead, Africans are “world-affirming,” and welcome reincarnation. The world is a light, warm, and living place to which the dead are only too glad to return from the darkness and coldness of the grave. The dead return to their communities, except for those unfortunate ones previously mentioned, and there are no limits set to the number of possible reincarnations—an ancestor may be reincarnated in more than one person at a time. Some African myths say that the number of souls and bodies is limited. It is important for Africans to discover which ancestor is reborn in a child, for this is a reason for deep thankfulness. The destiny of a community is fulfilled through both successive and simultaneous multiple reincarnations.

Transmigration (also called metempsychosis) denotes the changing of a person into an animal. The most common form of this idea relates to a witch or sorcerer who is believed to be able to transform into an animal in order to perform evil deeds. Africans also believe that people may inhabit particular animals after death, especially snakes, which are treated with great respect. Some African rulers reappear as lions. Some people believe that the dead will reappear in the form of the totem animal of that ethnic group, and these totems are fearsome (such as lions, leopards, or crocodiles). They symbolize the terrible punishments the dead can inflict if the moral values of the community are not upheld.


In the village of Eshowe in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, a Zulu Isangoma (diviner), with a puff adder in his mouth, practices soothsaying or predicting, with snakes. It is impossible to generalize about concepts in African religions because they are ethno-religions, being determined by each ethnic group in the continent.

GALLO IMAGES/CORBIS

 Burial and Mourning Customs

Death in African religions is one of the last transitional stages of life requiring passage rites, and this too takes a long time to complete. The deceased must be “detached” from the living and make as smooth a transition to the next life as possible because the journey to the world of the dead has many interruptions. If the correct funeral rites are not observed, the deceased may come back to trouble the living relatives. Usually an animal is killed in ritual, although this also serves the practical purpose of providing food for the many guests. Personal belongings are often buried with the deceased to assist in the journey…. Various other rituals follow the funeral itself. Some kill an ox at the burial to accompany the deceased. Others kill another animal some time after the funeral (three months to two years and even longer is the period observed). The Nguni in southern Africa call the slaying of the ox “the returning ox,” because the beast accompanies the deceased back home to his or her family and enables the deceased to act as a protecting ancestor. The “home bringing” rite is a common African ceremony. Only when a deceased person’s surviving relatives have gone, and there is no one left to remember him or her, can the person be said to have really “died.” At that point the deceased passes into the “graveyard” of time, losing individuality and becoming one of the unknown multitude of immortals.

Many African burial rites begin with the sending away of the departed with a request that they do not bring trouble to the living, and they end with a plea for the strengthening of life on the earth and all that favours it. According to the Tanzanian theologian Laurenti Magesa, funeral rites simultaneously mourn for the dead and celebrate life in all its abundance. Funerals are a time for the community to be in solidarity and to regain its identity. In some communities, this may include dancing and merriment for all but the immediate family, thus limiting or even denying the destructive powers of death and providing the deceased with “light feet” for the journey to the other world.

Ancient customs are adapted in many South African urban funerals. When someone has died in a house, all the windows are smeared with ash, all pictures in the house turned around and all mirrors and televisions and any other reflective objects covered. The beds are removed from the deceased’s room, and the bereaved women sit on the floor, usually on a mattress. During the time preceding the funeral—usually from seven to thirteen days—visits are paid by the community to comfort the bereaved family. In the case of Christians, consolatory services are held at the bereaved home. The day before the funeral the corpse is brought home before sunset and placed in the bedroom. A night vigil then takes place, often lasting until the morning. The night vigil is a time for pastoral care, to comfort and encourage the bereaved. A ritual killing is sometimes made for the ancestors as it is believed that blood must be shed at this time to avoid further misfortune. Some people use the hide of the slaughtered beast to cover the corpse or place it on top of the coffin as a “blanket” for the deceased. Traditionally, the funeral takes place in the early morning (often before sunrise) and not late in the afternoon as it is believed that sorcerers move around in the afternoons looking for corpses to use for their evil purposes. Because sorcerers are asleep in the early morning, this is a good time to bury the dead.

In some communities children and unmarried adults are not allowed to attend the funeral. During the burial itself, the immediate family of the deceased is expected to stay together on one side of the grave at a designated place. They are forbidden from speaking or taking any vocal part in the funeral. It is customary to place the deceased’s personal property, including eating utensils, walking sticks, blankets, and other useful items, in the grave. After the funeral, the people are invited to the deceased’s home for the funeral meal. Many people follow a cleansing ritual at the gate of the house, where everyone must wash off the dust of the graveyard before entering the house. Sometimes pieces of cut aloe are placed in the water, and this water is believed to remove bad luck. Churches that use “holy water” sprinkle people to cleanse them from impurity at this time.

In southern Africa, the period of strict mourning usually continues for at least a week after the funeral. During this time the bereaved stay at home and do not socialize or have sexual contact. Some wear black clothes or black cloths fastened to their clothes, and shave their hair (including facial hair) from the day after the funeral. Because life is concentrated in the hair, shaving the hair symbolizes death, and its growing again indicates the strengthening of life. People in physical contact with a corpse are often regarded as unclean. The things belonging to the deceased should not be used at this time, such as the eating utensils or the chairs the deceased used. Blankets and anything else in contact with the deceased are all washed. The clothes of the deceased are wrapped up in a bundle and put away for a year or until the extended period of mourning has ended, after which they are distributed to family members or destroyed by burning. After a certain period of time, the house and the family must be cleansed from bad luck, from uncleanness and “darkness.” The bereaved family members are washed, and a ritual killing takes place. The time of the cleansing is usually seven days after the funeral, but some observe a month or even longer. Traditionally, a widow had to remain in mourning for a year after her husband’s death and the children of a deceased parent were in mourning for three months.

A practice that seems to be disappearing in African urban areas is the home-bringing ritual, although it is still observed in some parts of Africa. A month or two after the funeral, the grieving family, slaughters a beast and then goes to the graveyard. They speak to the ancestors to allow the deceased to return home to rest. It is believed that, at the graves, the spirits are hovering on the earth and are restless until they are brought home—an extremely dangerous situation for the family. The family members take some of the earth covering the grave and put it in a bottle. They proceed home with the assurance that the deceased relative is accompanying them to look after the family as an ancestor. Some Christian churches have a night vigil at the home of the deceased, after the home-bringing. The theologian Marthinus Daneel describes the ceremony in some Zimbabwean churches, where the living believers escort the spirit of the deceased relative to heaven through their prayers, after which a mediating role can be attained. The emphasis is on the transformation of the traditional rite while providing for the consolation of the bereaved family. This example shows how these churches try to eliminate an old practice without neglecting the traditionally conceived need that it has served.

These burial and mourning customs suggest that many practices still prevailing in African Christian funerals are vestiges of the ancestor cult, especially the ritual killings and the home-bringing rites. Because a funeral is preeminently a community affair in which the church is but one of many players, the church does not always determine the form of the funeral. Some of the indigenous rites have indeed been transformed and given Christian meanings, to which both Christians and those with traditional orientation can relate. Sometimes there are signs of confrontation and the changing and discontinuance of old customs to such an extent that they are no longer recognizable in that context.

African funerals are community affairs in which the whole community feels the grief of the bereaved and shares in it. The purpose of the activities preceding the funeral is to comfort, encourage, and heal those who are hurting. Thereafter, the churches see to it that the bereaved make the transition back to normal life as smoothly and as quickly as possible. This transition during the mourning period is sometimes accompanied by cleansing rituals by which the bereaved are assured of their acceptance and protection by God. Because the dominance of Christianity and Islam in Africa has resulted in the rejection of certain mourning customs, the funeral becomes an opportunity to declare faith.

“In the west, marriages are often the biggest life-cycle events. In Africa, it’s funerals by far,” said professor Michael Jindra, co-editor of “Funerals in Africa: Explorations of a Social Phenomenon.”

Jindra explains that such large events, designed to pay respect to the dead and honor one’s roots, also provide a kind of “social glue” for communities in many African societies: They are at the heart of social and cultural life, with status concerns, succession issues and family bonds also at stake.

Counting the costs of saying goodbye

The business of death

Yet, honoring those who’ve passed away can also exact an enormous financial toll on the already emotionally vulnerable relatives.

In South Africa, bereaved families often have to spend significant amounts to host lavish funerals and burial ceremonies. They are expected to host and feed extended relatives who visit from all over the country and can stay for weeks. Other costs include slaughtering a cow or a goat to honor the dead, renting hearse tents and arranging transportation to the burial ground for mourners.

“In many areas, a lot of people spend a lot of money on funerals. Sometimes, it’s out of choice for reasons of status, but other times, it’s simply out of the social pressure, and it is certainly putting burdens on people when they don’t have a lot of money,” said Jindra.

A 2009 report by economists Anne Case and Alicia Menendez found that the average price tag for an “honorable” funeral in South Africa between 2003 and 2005 was about 3,400 rand ($415), which is equivalent to 40% of the average annual household expenditure.  Read more: http://www.deathreference.com/A-Bi/African-Religions.html#ixzz2dBIpmftM


We Africans carry in our heritage the cradle of humanity. We carry the deep sorrows of slavery. We carry the suffering of AIDS leaving whole villages of only children.

We are living on the dark continent with yet so much light. In our African prayers. In our dances. In our stories. In our living. In our dying.

An African farmer used to sit in church for long periods of silence. When he was asked about this, he spoke of his God saying: “I look at him, and he looks at me and it is enough.”

Our prayers take many forms, especially when slavery took us to places far away from Africa. Jamaican reggae is one form. Christian gospels are another form. Yet they are still our prayers. African prayers.


Praise Ye Lord,
Peace be with us.

Say that the elders may have wisdom and speak with one voice.
Peace be with us.

Say that the country may have tranquillity.
Peace be with us.

And the people may continue to increase.
Peace be with us.

Say that the people and the flock and the herds
May prosper and be free from illness.
Peace be with us.

Say that the fields may bear much fruit
And the land may continue to be fertile.
Peace be with us.

May peace reign over earth,
May the gourd cup agree with vessel.
Peace be with us.

May their heads agree and every ill word be driven out
Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.

– Kikuyu Peace Prayer –

http://www.godprayers.org/Kikuyu-Peace-Prayer.htm




Morning has risen;
God, take away from us every pain,
every ill, every mishap;
God, let us come safely home.

– Pygmy Women’s Prayer –
– The Prayers of African Religion. –
– London. S.P.C.K., Maryknoll. Orbis, 1975. –
– p.32. –


Praise Ye, Ngai … Peace be with us.

Say that the elders may have wisdom
and speak with one voice.
Peace be with us.

Say that the country may have tranquility.
Peace be with us.

And the people may continue to increase.
Peace be with us.

Say that the people and the flock and the herds
May prosper and be free from illness.
Peace be with us.

Say that the fields may bear much fruit
And the land may continue to be fertile.
Peace be with us.

May peace reign over earth,
May the gourd cup agree with the vessel.
Peace be with us.

May their heads agree and
every ill word be driven out
Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.

Praise ye, Ngai … Peace be with us.

– Kikuyu, Kenya –


Wonderful one, you live
among the sheltering rocks.
You give rain to us people.

We pray to you,
hear us, O Strong One!
When we beg you, show your mercy.

You are in the highest places
with the spirits of the great ones.

You raise the grass-covered hills
above the earth,
and you make the rivers.
Gracious one!

– Rozwi, South Africa –

http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/000/000000461.html





Great is O King,
our happiness
in thy kingdom,
thou, our king.

We dance before thee,
our king,
by the strength
of thy kingdom.

May our feet
be made strong;
let us dance before thee,
eternal.

Give ye praise,
all angels,
to him above
who is worthy of praise.

– Zulu, South Africa –

http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/000/000000461.html


Lyrics to:                     Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin: dont worry about a thing,
cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Rise up this mornin,
Smiled with the risin sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin, this is my message
to you-ou-ou:

Thanks for the reminder, Felix!


Ope ni fun Olorun,
Gratitude to the Owner of the Realm of the Ancestors,
                                                               Iba Olodumare, Oba ajiki,
Homage to the Creator, the King who we praise first,

                                                                       Mo ji loni,
I awake today,

                                                               Mo wo’gun merin Aye,
I behold the four corners of the World,

Iba Elawori,
Homage to the Spirit of Purity,

Agbegi lere, la’fin ewu l’ado,
He who carves the cloth at Ado in the form of a sculpture,

Eiti Olodumare ko pa’jo iku e da,
The one whose date of death
has not been changed by the wind,

Omo Oluworiogbo,
Child of the Chief Priest who made
all the Heads that exist in Creation.

Iba’se ila Oorun,
Homage to the power of East,

Iba’se iwo Oorun,
Homage to the power of the West,

Iba’se Ariwa,
Homage to the power of the North,

Iba’se Guusu,
Homage to the power of the South,

Iba Oba Igbalaye,
Homage to the King of the Seasons of the Earth,

Iba Orun Oke,
Homage to the Invisible Realm of the Mountains,

Iba Atiwo Orun,
Homage to all things that live in the Invisible Realm,

……….

Iba Okiti biri, Oba ti np’ojo iku da,
Homage to the Averter of the final days,
The King who could change the time of Death,

Iba ate-ika eni Olodumare,
Homage to the mat that cannot be rolled up once laid out,

Iba Odemu demu kete a lenu ma fohun,
Homage to the power that extracts Goodness
from the Realm of the Invisible,

Iba’se awon Iku emese Orun,
Homage to the dead, the messengers of the Invisible Realm.

………..

– Iba’se, Parts of the Ifa Prayer of Praise, West Africa –


http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/02_3_PDFs/2_3%20Brown%20african%20funeral%20ceremony%20fixed2.pdfhttp://www.thefuneralsource.org/hi01.html#

http://www.deathreference.com/A-Bi/African-Religions.html

APA:
Bizarre rituals know of any? – Page 13 – David Icke’s … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1059082053