Onyeka Onwenu, an award-winning Nigerian actress, singer, and writer has denounced the display of wealth during the funeral of late Mrs Ezinne Uche Iyiegbu, Obi Cubana’s mother, which was the talk of the town.
According to her, the lavish funeral held in Oba Anambra state in July was obscene and insensitive, because it sent all the wrong signals at a time when Nigeria is wracked with widespread poverty and lack.
The author in an article published on Premium times revealed that prior to this she has directed her family on how to bury her when the time comes. She said she wants it to be a quiet and private burial.
She did, however clarify that, at the end of the day, different strokes apply to different people. She mentioned that her mother desired a costly burial and that she promised her days before her death that she would have it.
She claimed that she kept her promise to her mother, despite the fact that the funeral was not as extravagant as Obi Cubana‘s mother’s.
I told a friend just days before the most outrageous burial of Innyom Ezinne Uche Iyiegbu in Oba, Anambra State in July that I had given my family instructions on how to bury me when my time comes. Do it quickly, quietly and privately. Celebrate me with prayers, lunch or dinner afterwards. Share some jokes about me and laugh. Mourn, yes, but not excessively. Make merriment and then go about your business. If my friends want to celebrate me, they should do so while I am alive, so that I can enjoy it with them, not when I am gone and have no idea about this. That is me Onyeka Onwenu.
“My mother, on the other hand, wanted a different burial and I promised to give her want she wanted. On her hospital bed, just three days before she passed away, I reinforced that promise – it was important to her and she died knowing that I would keep my word. Hope Onwenu’s burial was nothing like what took place in Oba recently but it was elaborate and pretty expensive. Still I had the satisfaction that I kept my promise
“The point I make here is that there are different strokes for different folks, even within a family. I do not condemn anyone for how they mourn, with their hard-earned money but I am very uncomfortable with lavish display of wealth on any occasion, especially in a time of hardship and lack for most others. The burial of Obi Cubana’s mother was not only lavish, it was obscene and insensitive. It sent all the wrong signals at a time when Nigeria is wracked with widespread poverty and lack.
But so long as he and his supportive friends stole nobody’s money to do what they did, my outrage has abated. I will not call for them to be hanged on the stake as some have done. These reactions have been extreme and just as mindless as the conspicuous display of wealth we witnessed at the burial ceremony. Obi Cubana and his friends did not invent the art of spraying, neither are they the first to show off stupendous wealth in a wild celebration of any kind. But in an age of invasive social media, our senses are instantly bombarded with images of sheer madness, where caution is thrown to the wind and we are regaled with images of sheer debauchery. We ask: Is this all necessary?”
Speaking on the display at Obi Cubana’s mother’s burial, Onwenu wrote,
“I condemn it all. It does not reflect the Igbo culture that I grew up in. Ndigbo would not condone the conspicuous display of wealth. If you were found doing that, your close and extended family, your community would send a delegation to you, to ask about the source of the wealth you are throwing about. You would be ostracised if you have no convincing evidence of legitimate work. All that changed at the end of the Nigeria/Biafra conflict. Ndigbo were deprived of their money, their oil wells and towns excised from Imo and Abia States, their properties termed ‘abandoned’ and taken from them. They were forced to rebuild with no help and no compensation. It therefore became every person to themselves. Having money meant that you could get things done and like every other Nigeria society, our priorities were turned upside down. People no longer asked how and where you got your money. The point was that you had it. Our values may have been eroded but we have to fight back to regain them, to ensure our survival as the decent and hardworking people that we truly are.”