Now this doesn’t sound all that controversial right? I mean they have crematoria in the Gulf States, so it is no big deal right? Wrong.
The following is based on a an article on the All Africa website I have provided a link at the bottom.
In Nigeria, Lagos State will be the first state to enact a law in support of cremation and it would appear it is the elected representatives pushing for this change in funeral practises. The Governor Mr Babatunde Fashola said: “The law tells a story of the full consciousness of how global our state has become. People migrate here, build homes here, and set up businesses here.
“And if some people think, cremation is the best way to do what they want to do, I think, we should also as a global city, I think we should provide that choice as it is done in all other global cities of the world,” – So that is one in favour, and I have never heard of globalisation being used as a rationale before . However I suspect it may have something to do with land take and costs as well, but that is just me.
It is voluntary you will be happy to know, apart for corpses that remain unknown / uncollected, unclaimed deceased persons maybe cremated by the State, it is this aspect that has got people a little cross.
Historically, Nigerians have favoured burial because of religious leanings that are between Islam and Christianity.
Neither religious group is particularly in favour: According a report, Director, Muslims Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola insisted that the law is against the Islamic injunctions, which espouses respect for the dead. He also claimed that it as well ran foul of the African culture and tradition.
He was quoted as saying: “We are not Buddhists in this country. In Islam, when a man dies, we buried him decently. The law will not only affect us but the Christians too and it is not in our culture. A Muslim who dies must have treatment and when you cremate, nobody will ask for forgiveness for him.
“The law is not likely to catch Muslims because of the way Muslims treat their corpses. Those to be cremated must be taken from the mortuary. My advice to Lagosians is that when their loved ones are missing, they should search for them diligently at police stations, mortuaries and other places before they are cremated as unclaimed corpses,” he said.
It would appear the Methodists aren’t particularly in favour either, I like this chap – great quote! Dr. Ola Makinde (Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria), “The law is against our culture and tradition. Everybody has a choice of burial. My children cannot cremate me and nobody can compel me to be cremated. Cremation is English culture and it is not in the Bible. It is a type of culture where people write their will to be cremated when they died.
“I pity Lagosians, the government should think twice; they should pass laws that people will obey and we should not copy the white people foolishly,” he stated. Considering he is a learned man and a man of the cloth – I am not sure he has got that bit quite right?!
However one local funeral director said: We have been doing cremation in Nigeria for a long time, mostly for foreigners such as the Chinese, Indians and Koreans. The Asians like cremation more than the traditional burial. From our experience I can also say that Indians prefer the local way which is with wood than other mode of cremation.
We have our local cremation centre at Iju and the incinerator kind of cremation at Ojodu Berger. So cremation is not alien to Nigeria. It’s something we have been doing for a very long time.” Although he did not agree with the Government’s thinking on this being a suitable disposal route for unclaimed bodies.
Finally I will leave you with a paragraph from author at the start of the article which I think articulates just how alien cremation is to African culture.
It’s hard to imagine now, but soon those who live in Lagos would become accustomed to a new way of burying the dead. There will be piles of ashes dotting around as families get into the act of scattering ashes of dead relatives and pets in places they enjoyed as being done in the west.