23 February 2018
… religious experts speak
FORMER Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai was laid to rest at his Buhera homestead on Tuesday afternoon after losing his battle with colon cancer in South Africa last week.
Tsvangirai was buried next to his first wife Susan and with space seemingly reserved for him, H-Metro sought to understand the significance of being buried next to a loved one and consulted veterans in both tradition and religion.
AFM president, Reverend Asapher Madziyire
He said most decisions made by Christians and traditional leaders are based on Jewish culture there by nullifying what God says in his word concerning the significance of burial places.
Rev Madziyire warned pastors over quoting Holy Scriptures out of contest as they try to please people’s cultural beliefs at memorial services, burial services and other related gatherings.
“To be honest with you, I have informed my children and relatives that I want to be buried in Chivhu when my time with the Lord comes but I do not believe on what is said by people concerning where one has to be buried.
“There is no much significance, biblically to where one is buried since the common place is the ground, in the soil, in the dust.
“Traditional leaders are after their beliefs that the spirit of the dead protects them and taking the body to their family graveyards is to allow themselves kurova makuva nekupira midzimu yavo.
“Some even collect soil from where their loved ones died and take it to their countries or home villages as a belief that they have done the proper way and respected the dead.
“Body viewing is meant for close relatives to correctly identify if the body is the correct one but today all mourners are asked to do body viewing there by exaggerating the main purpose.
“Vanhu ukavapa murawu vanozvipa mimwe mirau yavo vega vachiedza kutevedzera yavapihwa vozviremedza nezvizizvo.
“Traditional and Christianity beliefs are mostly based on Jewish culture where they read about David and Joseph ordering his children to bury his body where his father was laid to rest.
“The Holy Bible warns people of nullifying the word of God because of their traditions and this has taken over many including church pastors and evangelists to wrongly interpret the word to satisfy those who calls them to officiate on their memorial tomb stones, funerals and other related functions.
“According to Jewish culture it was meant for history purposes and not as holy as what other people want to take it as biblical or cultural.”
Social and religious analyst, Sekuru Ganyiwa said people have a tendency of respecting the dead more than the living but place of burial is open to discussion when one is still alive.
“It is African culture that they respect the dead more than the living and this is affecting programs in many funerals. Someone who spoke to the deceased at the last hour is considered more important than one who was given instruction when the departed was still in her or his sound mind.
“There is nothing wrong in discussing how you want your burial service to be carried out and where you want to be buried.
“What is important is to properly bury your loved ones and this brings peace to the believed families but is to where you have been buried does not matter much.
“The problem comes at funerals where other close relatives claim to have been informed by the deceased and express their hatred to other people thereby confusing mourners and delay burial services.
“These days we are surprised to hear stories of people stealing at funerals and at accident scenes which I want to believe that we have people running away from respecting the dead.”
REVEREND ELIAS CHAKABWATA
The president of Impact Training Institute, Reverend Elias Chakabwata, gave different references in the bible where married men are buried next to their spouses’ graves.
“The burying of the leader for Movement for Democratic Change next to his wife should be taken as it is.
“This is nothing new both in the Bible and in African Tradition. In Christianity, we believe death is a necessary end and it is also inevitable and as such we should live our lives circumspectly knowing that at some point we shall die.
“So when it comes to places of burial people of old in the Bible were very particular for example the patriarch Abraham in Genesis 23:12-20 bought a place which he designated for the burial of his people.
“When Sarah died she was buried in that place Genesis 23:19
“In Genesis 49:4-14 Jacob died in Egypt and his son Joseph asked for permission from Pharaoh to bury him back in Canaan in the land that the Abraham had bought.
“This was after Jacob had told his son in Genesis 49:20-30 that his desire was that he should be buried in the same place as one of his wives Leah, his grandmother and grandfather.
“It was significant for the people of old to be buried close to each other as a sign of love and solidarity.
“The land was also part of their inheritance. It should also be noted that someone’s words before they die are very important.
“It represents their will and both in Christianity and African Tradition religion what a person say before they die is taken seriously.
“Consequently, the desire by Mr Tsvangirai to be buried next to his wife is not something that should shock anyone. People should not read too much into this but take it as such.
“Otherwise we end up splitting hairs over nothing and we end up in theological quagmire marred with controversies and debates which do not help those who remain behind but instead throw them into more confusion.
“Let’s stand guided by the Bible as well as the context at hand.”
SEKURU GEORGE KANDIYERO
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association president George Kandiyero said laying a married man next his wife is part of our culture.
“Traditional practices are passed from one generation to the next and there it is common in our culture for someone married to be laid next to their spouse.
“Because of the incidences in the late Prime Minister’s family people would be tempted to interpret the move controversially but there is actually nothing amiss here.
“Tsvangirai’s wife was laid at Tsvangirai’s rural home and now that Tsvangirai is gone, it makes sense for him to be laid next to his first wife.
“It’s just a sign of honouring their union there are no spiritual connotations there, in African tradition, Zimbabwean in particular spiritual implications of burying someone occur only when repatriation of dead bodies are done otherwise there are no spiritual connotations to it.
“This is why you see we have grave yards all over the country where someone’s body is laid to rest is not an issue but where his spirit is, is what we are concerned about,” he said.
Word in You Church founder Apostle Kenneth Zingwe said motives in choosing a location to bury someone is what is important.
“I think in life the most important thing is having the right motives in everything that we do.
“If you do something good but with a wrong motive then your noble work is not good is in vein.
“The laying to rest of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai by his family next to his wife can only be seen as a noble move if the motives of those who made the decisions were right.
“However, if it was meant to prove a point to his current wife and her family then it was a wrong move,” he said.