CanoeVibes: Funeral tributes: cocktail of half-truths or an act of not speaking ill about the dead?

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How authentic is the content of tributes paid to the dead? This was a question a friend recently posed in a chatroom. I have no idea how the conversation started because I joined late, but the thread had been on hours before I joined. My first comment was a surprised emoji. I am not necessarily good at emojis, but I know how to use a couple for good effect.

After reading about three posts, I sifted through the rest to see what others had also posted. It was a tough exercise, but I kept at it. And the comments kept dropping on the platform. I switched my attention to the fresh comments and foraged through them. One caught my attention. It was a tribute of a goldsmith in Obuasi.

According to the gentleman who narrated the story, this goldsmith was his uncle. He had a wife and several concubines. He was well-known in the town and when he died at the age of 65, the stories about his life began to emerge. Some of the stories about his private life came as a shock to most people in the town.

A respected catechist and Sunday school teacher, he had only one wife or so, most of the town people thought. The two were often seen walking to and from church, as well as midweek services. A religious man, he was often mentioned as the perfect gentleman and an example the youth in the town should follow. He was a father of three children known to the community.

However, unbeknown to most people in the community, the man had extra concubines in his community. He also had other women in nearby villages and towns. He had even befriended a woman in the church whom he had been in a relationship with for close to three years. These stories about him began to emerge after his death. Contrary to what was then known to be three children, it turned out he had fathered not less than 8, with four different women.

Though the wife knew the late husband struggled to keep his libido asleep and in the right place, the revelation after his death shocked her. She was in complete shock and disgust. “How could Kofi do this to me and the children,” she was said to have confided in friends and family.

Though she had nothing to do with the late husband’s escapades, she was accused of deliberately turning a blind eye to the numerous affairs. The accusations left her shattered and unable to bear it any longer. She moved out of her matrimonial home to her family house. In a small community, the story of a popular goldsmith and revelation about his hidden secrets will always provide the perfect fodder for community gossips.

Two months after his death, a date was set for his funeral. The woman had to be persuaded to attend the late husband’s funeral. Part of her role was to read the tribute as a wife. She grudgingly prepared one to be read on her behalf.

But on the day of the funeral itself, her tribute was stopped from being read. The content of the details was scandalous and unkind to the late husband. She was reported to have labelled the late husband a ‘night dog’ who was nearly beaten by another man for having an affair with the wife.

In the tribute, she also narrated how the husband was caught having an affair with another woman at his shop. She again reminded the audience of the husband’s inability to zip up. Despite his actions being reported to some elders in the church, he failed to show remorse and kept at his old habit.

The woman had a lot to say. But when word got round to some family members of what the details of her tribute to the husband was, they quietly skipped her section and moved on. They did not want any embarrassment. Some of the tributes had praised him for being a perfect model for newly-weds in the town, as well as the community. He was painted as a responsible husband who was married to one woman for more than 20 years. The wife, who had to sit and endure what she termed as lies, kept shaking her head in disbelief.

“All these things you are saying about my late husband are lies,” she screamed from her seat before being led away from the funeral grounds. “This man was a dog who chased everything in skirt,” she screamed the more.

Mourners at the funeral were unimpressed with what she was reported to have written and wanted to read about the husband. Some questioned if she did not have any decency to even say anything positive about the husband; after all, they say nobody speaks ill of the dead.

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