Cremation debate rages

Debate is raging after calls by the City of Harare for Zimbabweans to adopt cremation as way of burial to save land.

The City of Harare is running out of burial space.
The City of Harare is running out of burial space.

Most young people view cremation as a way of saving land, the majority of the ‘traditionalists’ who spoke to The Zimbabwean said it was “un-African and disrespectful of the dead”.

“As a nation we will be left with no culture of our own, the practice of burying the dead is fundamental to our culture -but because of urbanisation and globalisation, we are embracing whatever other cultures are offering,” said Masimba Gumede.

“In most rural areas, there are still vast tracts of land and people can opt to be buried rather than this ‘burning’ thing. How can a family make rituals if the person is cremated?” asked Aaron Moyana.

Most people from mainstream churches said there was nothing wrong with cremation “as the Almighty has the power to resurrect the dead.” Pastor Arnold Husekwa, of the Pentecostal Tabernacle, said cremation showed faith that God would remember even the ashes.

“People are of the belief that if someone dies he goes somewhere, which is why they do not want to cremate them however, in Revelations it is stated that the earth, the ocean and even the fire will vomit those in it and nothing will ever stop God from resurrecting people,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with being cremated though in this part of the continent it is very difficult for people to understand,” said Ahmmed Khan.

Undertakers said it was difficult to convince relatives to cremate their deceased because it was against the culture and the wishes of the dead. “Though it is a noble idea, we are still a long way from embracing it,” said undertaker Goodman Bobo.

“I personally would like to be cremated, there is nothing wrong with that, it saves space for the living.” said Chikonzo Manase.

“With the growing population it is the best because we will cover the face of the earth with graves by 2050,” said Alistair Katumba.

“Right now, people are struggling to find land and cremating is the only way, a person needs to find where to live first before he dies,” said property developer Abel Kapo.

Harare has six cemeteries -Warren Hills, Pioneer, Mabvuku, Greendale and Granville A and B. Two are no longer accepting burials and the remaining four are up to 75% full. The Council is appealing to residents to adopt cremation as the city is running out of burial space. The Mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, said council was exploring prospects of encouraging cremation instead of the traditional underground burial.

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