Death of a Mozambican young man
He was twenty-three years old. Born and bred in the church. An interesting young man. He had a very muscular body, but he liked wearing tight fitting leather pants and platform shoes, strange attire for a Mozambican young man. These last few years he did not come to church much, he preferred to spend his time drinking and partying with his friends. This to the distress of his father, who is a prominent leader in the church, as a matter of fact, his father was a pastor of a small congregation while he is trying to complete his diploma in theology.
It was this wayward life style that led to his untimely death. The cause of his death was said to be an overdose of alcohol and drugs. The funeral took place at his father’s house, out in the yard. A sail was mounted to provide some shade, but it was just to small to protect the hordes of mourners from the hush Mozambican sun. Initially, the pastor had planed with the family that the ceremony would take place in the church but some of the “saints” felt that the fact that the young man had “fallen from grace”, made it inappropriate for his funeral ceremony take place in the church. The Ceremony had to take place at the home of the bereaved family. The pastor of the church was totally disturbed by the attitude of the church board, but he decided that it would be best to avoid conflict, for the sake of the family.
The coffin was simple, blue gray and rough around the edges. On top of it there was some sort of an arrangement of paper flowers. Natural flowers where way to expensive. It was the centerpiece of the yard; all around it sat people, men on chairs and women on grass mats arranged neatly on the ground. That was one of the Mozambican customs that I found quite strange when I moved here, I felt like a child as I sat awkwardly with my legs stretched out in front of me, while I allowed the solemty of the occasion to flood over me. His mother also sat on the ground. She stared with pain in her eyes at the coffin of her previously vibrant, rebellious son. She was surrounded by a group of concerned elderly women, ready to support and comfort her whenever she might need it. This is another custom that I found interesting. I am used to family members seeking comfort in each other’s arms in times of bereavement. Over here they separated the family members from each and the church members did the comforting. His father sat on the opposite side of the coffin, on a chair of course. He too sat amongst a group of concerned elderly men that were ready to give him moral support. The young man’s siblings were scattered amongst the rest of the people. At one point they came together in front of the coffin to render a special song. They did not get to finish their song though, because the whole congregation burst into tears as they witnessed the sorrow of the young man’s brothers and sisters.
The pastor preached a moving sermon and than it as time to view the corpse. The family went first. Each person that passed had to spray some deodorant on the corpse. Some say that this custom started because bodies were not well preserved in the past and therefore smelled bad by the time of the actual funeral. Breathing became difficult for those seated close to the coffin as the deodorant filled the air. I stood in line as I waited for my turn to view the body. The line moved slowly because many women broke out into hysterical crying after seeing the corpse. One lady fainted and others had to remove from the scene.
Finally my turn arrived. I was amazed at how normal he looked. It seemed as if he was asleep. He did look pale though. I was moved by his youthfulness. It seemed so unnatural for such a young person to lose his life so soon. I wondered if God allowed him an eleventh hour to repent from his sins. One thing I know for sure, if he did have an opportunity to ask God for forgiveness, he would have received much more charity from God than that which he received from the church board.
For the son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.