The move by the Ebonyi State government to stop the people of the state from keeping their dead relations and friends for months or years in their private residences as they prepare for their befitting burials is causing some ripples in social circles in the state. As in the days of Egyptian mummies, the people of Ebonyi embalm their dead relations and friends and keep the corpses inside residential houses to enable them prepare and give such deceased persons decent burials.
The strange practice which gained ground in the area at the end of the Nigeria/ Biafran civil war in 1970, has been going on as the natives believe that those who take their dead wives, husbands, fathers or mothers “to hospital mortuaries do not love them.”
According to the natives, those who lose their loved ones usually embalm them and kept in their houses while they prepared for their “befitting burials,” instead of taking them to hospital mortuaries where no one would care for them. While keeping the corpses at home, the relations bathe and dress them up every morning and take them back to the beds which serve as their temporary resting places as sign of their love for their dead parents, brothers or sisters.
Though this may sound horrifying, this strange system of keeping corpses in residential homes is regarded as the best way of showing love to the dead ones.
Investigations by the South East Voice at Ozibo Community, Echi-aba Development Centre in Ebonyi Local Government Area of the state, showed that the practice is widely accepted as those who take the dead bodies of their loved ones to the hospital mortuaries are usually regarded “as not true indigenes of the area.”
The phenomenon has become a culture in other parts of Ebonyi, prompting the alarm raised by the state government through the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezuruike, who banned the strange but primitive practice in the state, forthwith. All that is required to keep the corpse of a loved one is just to hire a mortician, who collects a token for the corpse to be embalmed and kept in the house till the burial day.
A resident of Ozibo, Mr. Kelechi Osimiri who lost his father some years ago told South East Voice that he embalmed the corpse and kept it in one of his rooms in the house until he was buried several months later. The obnoxious practice is, however, prevalent in other local government areas of the state.
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