By Funmi Komolafe
Sociologists describe culture as a way of life. It isn’t viewed as right or wrong. It is just a way of life that people have developed and live with.
In Nigeria, culture is as diverse as the number of ethnic groups we have but over time, cultures have overlapped and others have embraced what was common to a particular ethnic group.
With Covid 19, a lot has changed or seems to be changing.
The social aspect of our life has changed. Now, people can only conduct burial with a maximum of 20 people with reasonable physical distance.
Covid-19 has a lot of positive side. It has put an end to Nigerians putting the dead in the morgue for up to a year for reasons of preparation. Usually, relations who probably didn’t care about the dead while he was alive would be busy running around for money to buy cows. They meet to decide what type of uniform (Aso- Ebi) that the family will wear even as they impose indirect taxes on their guests with aso-ebi. The cost of printing pamphlets for wake-keep and church services becomes another reason while burial is delayed.
Consequently, rather than allow the dead to be buried almost immediately, they would keep the dead in the morgue with no regular power and by the time they would be having lying in state, you could hardly recognize the face of the deceased.
Have we ever asked ourselves, when the deceased was born, how many people accompanied him or her into the world. More often, in Nigeria, only the mother and the medical personnel witnessed the delivery. So, why does the deceased need all the preparation made for burial. The height of hypocrisy that attends burial is that no one would be willing to be buried with the deceased. Rather, they would go and host parties claiming they are celebrating a glorious life as if the parties would decide if the dead would go to heaven or hell.
Marriage is another issue that Covid-19 has helped to re-define our attitude. Parents get their guests involved in unnecessary expenses with Aso- Ebi. Even those who cannot afford cows would struggle to buy one. Whereas, what is indeed a legal marriage is the one conducted in the marriage registry which does not involve the unnecessary ceremonies that we engage in. Where it is the traditional marriage, it is possible to host it in a sitting room but our people must involve a crowd as if the crowd determines the success of marriage. More often than not, such marriages fail.
With Covid-19, people can now go to the registry, marry and go home quietly.
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Social gathering in Nigeria got to a sickening point when we began to decorate chairs with fabric as if chairs are human beings.
Our social life is so absurd that a Kenyan once told me that he had been to many African countries but found none of them so wasteful as Nigerians.
To attend a marriage or a burial, you need a make-up artist to transform your look or paint you up like a masquerade and this doesn’t come cheap. For bridal make up, the charge is a minimum of 10,000 while for the guest that also makes up to the event, the make- up artist is paid up to 5,000.
Yet these same people who pay so much for make up can hardly give a beggar 1,000. Many of these people don’t make donations to orphanages or old people’s home.
Many of those who engage in loud display of affluence, hardly make meaningful contributions to the places of worship, church or mosque. We would rather live a vain life.
With Covid 19, even if you make up, you can be sure, the facemask will wipe it off.
Those who put every activity done in their homes on social media have also learnt some lessons. Social media crazy people have had Covid-19 put some good sense into them.
Without doubt, this pandemic called Covid-19 has its positive side. It will definitely cause us to change our ostentatious life style. The pandemic has indeed made us to live within our means.
Never again, should we go back to a life of arrogant and irresponsible display of wealth in a society where millions are hungry and unemployed.
By the time Covid 19 leaves our shores, a new culture would have emerged. We would have adjusted to a new way of life.
The pandemic sure has its good side.