I think a person in his proper senses will not dare thrash a corpse. Maybe the deceased is a close relative of yours and you wouldn’t dare cane them in real life, leave alone when they have passed on. But African Tradition allows a corpse to be beaten thoroughly. Why? The corpse may be caned seriously if the dead person commits suicide. Suicide is not allowed by many customs in the African tradition.
Why the Corpse of a Suicide is Thoroughly Thrashed
Suicide is seriously abhorred in Africa because it is seen as a cowardly act. The suicide victim is an escapee from the problems of the world. The person cannot face challenges head on and he tries to escape by committing suicide. The victim is believed to leave behind a curse. Calamity will soon overtake the families of the departed suicidal victim. This crisis has to be evaded. That is why the corpse is thoroughly thrashed.
Events That Occur When the Corpse of a Suicide is Discovered
Suicidal death is never treated like any other. Things are done in whispers, so it’s hard for a person to understand what is taking place. Neighbors summon each other and point without many words where the corpse is to be found. Elderly men seek out and consult men who are not very normal upstairs. Either those people are mad or are abnormal in one way or the other. They cut down the victim if he has hanged himself. No wailing or crying is done in such a death. Once the mad people cut down the suicide victim, the neighbors descend on him with canes. They thrash the corpse thoroughly to avert any crisis. The corpse is later buried in the dead of the night. There is no ceremony to be done and no coffin is made for the victim. It is a solemn occasion – different from the normal burial, which looks like a celebration rather than a funeral.
Other Customs Related to Suicides and Their Families
Apart from the corpse being thoroughly thrashed in order to avoid crisis, there are other norms to be observed.
- The diseased person is never named in that society. His name is to die a natural death.
- Nobody from his family is allowed to marry, nor can anyone be married into the family. The family is treated as an outcast.
- The house of the diseased is burned to ashes.
Such are the reasons why the suicidal corpse was thoroughly thrashed. It was also to scare others not to think of suicide.
Featured image: Mabel Amber/Pixabay/ Public domain, CCO