So, as per my previous post, on Monday I paid for the funeral Tuesday morning the guy collected the widow, and took her to the hospital to identify, and collect Witness's body. Then he called me to say he had arranged the funeral for Wednesday morning 10 am. A public holiday! Anyway, it suited me.
Wednesday I went to a friends house to collect his house keys as I am looking after his place while he's on vacation with his family.
There we discussed the funeral stuff, and he whipped out his wallet and made a donation! Thanx Dean vZ, appreciate it. He also gave me a big bunch of flowers, which I put on the coffin. See pics.
So, by 10 to 9 I'm on my way down the the squatter camp, thinking if I get there early, ,maybe there is something that needs doing, I can get it done. I'm 5 minutes away from there, when Sara calls to say Witness is there, and the preacher, and all the people, and they want to start.
I get there, and find:-
His room has been cleared out, completely. It's tiny.... His widaw and a minder are inside, with the preacher. Everyone else is standing around outside. As soon as I arrive I hear the wonderful singing. No matter what your personal opinions are about our African people, damn they can sing!
Anyway, I get a formal welcome from the preacher, and he get the service going. Parayers, and bible readings, and lots and lots of singing. It's quite an experiance for thsi white boy. And at each opportunity, he either translates his words for me, or does a reading in english. Then some people get a turn each to say something about Witness. I get the final call. Damn, not good at this. I cried at my own wedding man! Anyway, I manage to say some syuff, which the preacher translates as I go along. Get through that fine.
Then it's time to go the the cemetry. It's not more than 1.5km away. SO I do 3 trips in the car ferrying mourners, and the rest walk there in this time.
A nice service at the grave side. As "guest of honour" I get to throw the first handfull of soil over the now lowered casket. I thern fetch the widow, and lead her to the grave for her to do the same. Then it's everyone else's turn.
Finally, after a few more talks, prayers and much singing, the guys haul out the shovels and fill the grave. Does not take long, as there are about 15 guys there, and they pass the tools across quickly.
Then just as I thought it was done, I got asked to do the closing prayer. And I got through that too! With the preacher doing the required translating.
Then ferry back to the house, and I joined the family and friends for a glass of refreshment, and after a short chat with the preacher, I left. Was home by 10.30.
When I arrived I saw this. Sara had collected donations from the community in the squatter camp, and they had bought 8 loaves of bread (nothing to put on it) and 5 liters of colddrink for refreshments for the visitors. I gave one of the neighbourhood kids ZAR100, and sent them off to go get another 10 liters.
The grave side. Included in the deal, was a gazebo, 8 chairs, and a box of bottled water for the mourners. All this as part of the funeral parlours service!
I was so impressed by the quality of the casket. A fine and proud way to go into the ground, for anyone! Definately didn't look cheap! Thye flowers mentioned earlier can be seen on top. As well as, traditionally, the Africans bury their dead with an extra set of clothes. This was made up of a jacket, long trousers, shoes, shirt and a belt, all of which I had given him in the past! And his favourite walking stick (made out of the thicker end of a broken snooker que!)
Closer view of the flowers and clothing, and casket.
The men filling in the grave.
Women and men stood seperatley at both the service, and the grave.
A lot of guys doing the work for their friend!
I was told that a final grave finish like this will cost about ZAR2800. Needs to be done in about 10 / 12 months. Will consider it. What the hell!
tThe finished product. Neat, tidy, proud of their work.
Wednesday, 16th December 2009 - a public holiday in South Africa, now known as Reconciliation day, but used to be known as Day of the Vow. (LIU). It was a good day to bury a friend.
Overall, a very satisfying experience. And very humbling. You do not appreciate what this small thing means to the people in that community.
The guys from the funeral parlor were fantastic. I will be writing to our local newspaper commending them for their honesty and integrity. If I was not involved, and had been asked what the end to end service had cost, I would have said probably in the region of ZAR10K!
To my friends in Australia, (Solomonsters!) who have also offered to make a donation towards the costs, thanks a lot guys, will be getting back to you soonest. Thanx.
Anyway, it's a done deal. It's over. Rest in peace my old friend!