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Katlego Modipane
Misunderstanding Mondays: Funerals
08H58 MONDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2012
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Saturday morning funerals have become a ritual in themselves - inevitable, frequent and following the same pattern more or less. As has always been the case with us black people, the week is used to comfort the family, go tshidisa or ku duduza. If you cant go but your family is represented in this process, you should be covered. A family member or some family members will occupy the dreadded matress, dependeding on who the deceased is. Tears are shed, prayers are said and although no words can soothe the pain, the presence of the community during this time provides unmeasurable support.  The support helps ease the rising tensions due to disagreements over the funeral arrangements. The akwardness of the week's proceedings come to a shreeking end on the morning of the funeral. Saturday or Sunday but most likely, Saturday morning.

The plethora of characters come to life on Saturday morning, as if each of them have been practicing their roles and perfecting them for this very day. The drunk uncle. He's a nuisance at every family gathering but particularly during funerals where he will rightly but annoyingly point out the fact that the family only ever comes together at funerals now. He's ignored but determined to be heard he will hurl insults at certain sections of the family. 

Then there's always that aunt, the one who is above everyone else in her mind. She doesnt hesitate to point out the fact that she paid for most of the expenses for the funeral to anyone she deems worthy of being in her majestic presence. She actually didnt do much except bark orders but noone dares question her. She usually drives a german make of car, has at least one set of real pearls that she will wear on this day and wasnt as close to the deceased as she would have you believe. 

As the aunt takes her seat in the church or tent, the gossipers sneer and unleash their unheard wrath. They tear her character apart. completely. From how she earned her money, usually the dead husband, to how she once had a toy boy or something along those lines. Its not just about her that they talk, its about everyone there starting with the deceased, his or her family and then gradually moving to the rest of the people there. If the deceased's death was due to illness, speculation will be rife and its up to the family to clear the air before it starts to stink with wild theories. 

No wild theories when it comes to the fashionistas. They have outfits specific to such ocassions, literally have clothes to die for. The men with their tailored suits and the young women who for some reason, see it fit to wear skimpy skirts or dresses and high heels. Outlandish! The older women think it and whimper it to each other but say nothing to the young girls who seem to like the attention that they are getting, especially from the older men. They can afford them, they drive luxury cars and have wives and children so they are both mature and unavailable for a serious commitment.

The drama carries through to the graveyard site. The dirt, the drowning voices and the competition between choirs, and of course the women come to a close. Finally, the family can rest. Finally the deceased can rest in peace. Back at the house there is a dirty half crazy man waiting to get fed. He doesnt stand in line with the others but makes them feel uncomfortable as they walk past him and catch a wiff of his foul smell. One of the women dishing up offers him a plate in the hope that he will go away. He takes his food but doesnt go very far, his ramblings can still be heard. Those with beer and whiskeys in the cars rush to open their drinks as soon as they have filled their stomachs. After tears they call it. They'll sit, drink, talk about the deceased, remembering him or her and sharing anecdotes of their best momenmts together until the sun starts to whine. Those that have come from afar need to be getting back... Within a few short working days, the focus will be on who will be buried the folllowing Saturday...

Photographer: Rudzani

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