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Friday, October 21, 2011

Mountains Beyond Mountains

I got to attend a traditional Ugandan burial ceremony today. My supervisor's grandmother passed away and they requested that I attend the burial ceremony. I wasn't sure if I should feel honored, but when I got to the event, it seemed that I was the prize because everyone's eyes were on me.

The whole ceremony was in Luganda, which means I understood one out of every ten words at best. It was interesting to see the different customs, like close friends and family walk around the casket, which is set on a not so sturdy table in the middle of the front lawn. After this portion, the M.C. went through what I could only understand to be thank yous to the deceased from different people in the community. The family then went up and the son of the deceased spoke for some time, at the end of which everyone hugged him. Then one of the females of the family stood by the casket with a basket, got blessed by a priest, and then had people lining up giving her money (which was later explained to be contributions to the family for putting on the event). After the family portion, the DJ put on "Candle in the Wind" by Sir Elton John (at this point I almost burst out laughing, but realized how inappropriate that would be). They played the song twice more before the priest went on what sounded like a rampage (he was mostly yelling and it gave me the biggest headache). Then family members carried the casket to a lorry truck to take to the plot (initially the intent was to carry it to the burial plot). The mourners followed the lorry truck to the site and stood as the casket was lowered and a picture of the deceased was passed around. Now, keep in mind there were over 100 mourners. At least, that is what it felt like to me.

After we walked back, the rest of the day can only be described as "how the hell is Aditi going to get back to site?!". I was with one of the sisters of the nursing school and we definitely had a fun time trying to get a ride, then waiting for a ride my supervisor set up, then finally ending up taking the lorry truck back. I was squished between two people and I swear, by the end of my service I will have sciatica.

*Note: Please note that I am not in any way disrespecting the deceased. She was an amazing person and contributed a great deal to the public health system and the community of Kyotera and Masaka (and through her family, Rakai). I am just really awkward when it comes to death and never really know how to act. I'm the type of person who laughs at funerals.*


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