Liberians Pay Homage to the Dead

Cemeteries around Liberia yesterday, March 10 received an influx of families, friends and love ones who went out to paint the tombs and clean the graveyards of their falling ones.

As a tradition to most Liberians, every second Wednesday in March is observed as Decoration Day what marked the day of cleaning up of burial place and graves of love ones to be tidy as a sign of respect for the dead.

Our reporter visited several cemeteries including the Muslim burial place situated in the old road community to get a feel of how people in Liberia put in time in observing this day.

Some of the cemeteries, besides the Muslim burial place, toured by our reporter were the J.C.N. Howard Cemetery, Congo Town Cemetery and the Palm Groove Cemetery on Center Street which had dramatic scenes of people weeping, mourning, drinking, cleaning around the graves, and meeting old friends.

As early as 6am, dozens trooped to their respective graves site to carry out the cleaning up the graves of their love ones up to the evening hours, as some cried out for their relatives, friends and love ones, others were dancing music on their various musical sets.

As the daylong cleaning up took place up to the evening hours, these old old rugged weedy graveyards became brilliantly sparkling with colors of all sort being painted on various tombs of all graves.

But such moods was unique to ‘Christian’s graveyards’ as the ‘Muslim’s burial place’ was perhaps, not visited, by the relatives of those falling Liberians who were buried there. Some may agree that there is nothing at the Muslim Cemetery to be decorated because the graves of several thousands Liberian Muslims who were have been buried there cannot be recognized by tombstones.

Speaking to one a professed Muslim on how they when about observing Decoration Day, Asatu Kromah, 46, said since she was a child she remembered her parents having feast for the dead rather than ‘wasting resources’ on the graves of people that would benefit nobody any more. She said “monies used to build comfortable tombs, buy luxurious caskets, get expensive suits and decorate graves for the dead” as a Muslim tradition were diverted to helping an impoverished family member who is alive while the dead is wrapped in special clothe and buried in the dirt. But many professed Christians who spoke to our reporter viewed Decoration Day as the day when they should paid homage to the people who they loved.

“I am a little taking aback to hear that is how the Muslims regard their falling ones. Check the Bible it is there, ‘do onto others as it shall be done onto you.’ In everyday life if you want to other people to respect you must respect them, and it can also be applied to the dead,” Mr. Morris Milton said.

The past Decoration Day was sad though people tried to make it seem like a festive day. It became more saddened to people who were at the J.C.N. Howard who discovered the remains of an individual loitering between some graves.

According to some of the people who lived around the area, people often dumped the body of their dead relatives in the cemetery during the night for reasons best known to them. Some said the remains that was discovered could have belong to a family who could not afford funeral cost to give the person whose remain was found a befitting burial.

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About Cholo Brooks 17479 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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