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OGIRISI: a New Journal of African Studies

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Customary right to befitting burial: a jurisprudential appraisal of four Nigerian cultures

Maurice Okechukwu Izunwa

Abstract


It is in the manifold customs of a people, precisely as the mirror of accepted usages, that their beliefs and worldview are screwed. Abstracted in symbols, a people’s culture is preserved as long as it continues to be of value and thereafter for historical purposes. Notwithstanding that customs are largely unwritten; the norms they prescribe are codified, as it were, in symbols as statute books. These symbols reveal unique rights for the people’s entitlement. Among the rights to which an African is entitled is the right to befitting burial/funerals. This right comes with it, certain duties and/or obligations. The aim of this paper is to deconstruct the elements of applicable burial customs with a view to demonstrating their afterlife implications as well as their social relevance. This is done through a phenomenologico–hermeneutical study of the symbols of burial rites in all four selected jurisdictions. It is the finding of this paper that this right of a befitting burial is next to the right to life in the hierarchy of customary rights and that it has a unique way of building the community in return. The mainstay of this work’s recommendations is this that; to the extent this burial ‘right’ pass the tests for applicability of customs, as provided by the law, it should be promoted in every way and by every good means.

Keywords: Customary Right, Cultures, Burial, Symbols, Man, Death, Afterlife




AJOL African Journals Online