Namibians Will Throw You a Party (Six Feet Under)

Photo: Contributed.

I am done with Namibians after witnessing how much love they suddenly have for a person when they die, after they left that same person rotting in some kapereke (corrugated iron sheet house) dying. It is like the Hereros always say, “ta usuverue” (you will only be loved when you die).

I am telling you to your face now, don’t event bother crying at my burial if you didn’t cry for me on these streets. Tsek!

I want to write a song called ‘Braai Me a River and Call It a Weekend’, but I know you will only arrive at the funeral for the meat and beer.

Namibian funerals are a whole other kind of love story. You could be shuffling down Independence Avenue, looking like a deflated Pep store pillow, muttering about how the country’s minerals haven’t trickled down to your pockets yet, and your best friend, June, wouldn’t even spare you a dime. Mxm!

But, yeses, let that final curtain fall, and suddenly you’re the most beloved felende. Die and you will see people you haven’t seen since Sam Nujoma wore short pants arriving in posh cars. They will travel all the way to the village they have never been to. They are so fast to arrive, faster than the maggots you are getting ready for.

“Ag shame,” they’ll be clucking, tears flowing like morning dew on an ice-cold Castello bottle, “gone too soon”.

Never mind the “gone too soon” part, the problem is even that lover who left you because you are sickly and broke is there too, with that stupid checkered handkerchief, crying and throwing fits. If only I could rise for a minute to tell them all to just f*#k off.

What do you mean “gone too soon” anyway? Is there ever an ideal time to kick the bucket?

Big Ben’s song ‘Leader of the Brave’ is the perfect example that you must die to even have a song all for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it is the most brilliant piece of art since the national anthem, but, damn it, do we first have to die for Big Ben to sing? Really?

The real party starts with the fundraising after they hear you are gone. Suddenly, everyone’s a financial expert and they have their calculators out to check how much each of the 50 WhatsApp group members must contribute to hit 100k. And they will do it, easy.

Auntie Matilda, who hasn’t balanced a budget since the rand era, will suddenly be selling ice pops and fudge to come to the funeral party. Uncle Itope, who wouldn’t lend you a cup of sugar even if your life depended on it, is suddenly the most generous philanthropist this side of Onaena.

Some will even pawn off their furniture from the year 19-voetsek to appear on the contributions list. People will dig deeper into their pockets than a tourmaline miner at Brandberg on a good day.

It’s enough to make you wonder, where was all this love when you were dodging RedForce debt collectors and living on brown bread, sugar water and prayer?

And then comes the actual funeral. Don’t even get me started. You haven’t been back to church since you were baptised in infancy but now there is a church claiming that you were their committed member. Kalunga kange!

The tears will flow like Epupa Falls after a good rainy season. Eulogies will be delivered with that Sacky Shanghala ‘rwa-rwa’ English. You’d think you were some kind of national hero, the kind who gets their face on a N$50 note.

Meanwhile, your ghost is probably standing there, arms crossed, thinking, “this is nice and all, but where were you when I needed money to pay for the surgery? Huh?”

The whole thing is so darn funny, it’s almost tragic.

Here we are, a nation that throws a party for the dearly departed, while the living struggle to make ends meet.

Maybe it’s time for a new social contract, Namibian style. A clause that reads: “If you didn’t bother checking in on me while I was alive, don’t even think about bringing those salty tears to my funeral. I might just come back as a tokoloshe and haunt your entire family!”

So, next time you see your neighbour looking a bit shaggy, don’t just offer condolences after they’ve shuffled off this mortal rock. Maybe offer them a plate of pap and a kind word. Who knows, it might just make their day (and avoid a future haunting).

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