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General News of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Justifying Desecration of the Dead!

Some manifest it by decorating burial sites and building imposing structures over tombs. Others remain very close to their dead by removing some useful parts of the body. They keep this as a sign of love or to perpetrate the link between the living and the dead. In the hope that the dead can intercede for them in difficult situations.

It is not for nothing that in several villages, some tombs stand out, so beautifully built and decorated. This is often in contrast with the ambient poverty seen through the rickety structures in the rest of the village, built in the name of houses.

But of late, this state of affairs seems to be suffering from a veritable turnaround; especially in the urban milieu where land is more and more difficult to come by. In villages where the number of land hunters is increasing by the day, the veneration of tombs is no longer as in yesteryears.

Take Yaounde, where the rush for construction land is very manifest; or, even Douala which suffers from the same syndrome. The struggle to get a parcel for a home has let people to stop at nothing; even in cemeteries, to satisfy their desires.

In Yaounde, some neighbourhoods which, just ten years ago were cemeteries, have now become sprawling living quarters. Large portions of land in the Tsinga neighbourhood were a public cemetery administered by the City Council. Today, there is no mention of such a thing.

Just behind the General Delegation for National Security at Nlongkak, stood a cemetery. Today, executive bungalows and posh hotels have sprung up in the area. The Catholic Mission Cemetery in the Mokolo neighbourhood is no exception.

What is being observed in Yaounde today smacks of shear barbarism and cannot be justified in any cultural or economic context. Elsewhere, cemeteries are veritable tourism sites where people go to reconnect with their ancestry or cultural or genealogical origins. We must therefore leave our dead to rest by continuing to respect and count on them - even in death.