Special Meal

Only a few weeks before the trip to meet MamaG in Port Harcourt, we learned of her husband’s unexpected death. Our plans quickly shifted to help support her as she planned for the funeral, a five day, public event welcoming hundreds of guests to PapaG’s ancestral village, Eket.

At the funeral, MamaG ate her meals on a big bed in a private room, a sign of her importance. All of the other guests would sleep on the floor in shared rooms. The migration from rural villages to urban centers is a common pattern in Nigeria. Traditions such as funeral ceremonies are crucial to reinforce and maintain the link between both parts of the family—the ones who moved and the ones who remained. 

The ancestor's house 

When we arrived at Eket, we are immediately struck by the contrast to Port Harcourt. The rural village is lush and green and the air is clear and fresh. The house is in preparation. We hear soft rhythmic beats emanating from the back of the house. It’s not music yet, it’s the women pounding okasi leaves. In the next five days they will be cooking non-stop in an effort to feed all visiting villagers and their guests. 

The goat butchering

MamaG heads to the Eket market accompanied by a neighbor man she trusts. He will help her get the best deal for a goat to butcher and offer to the guests. This is an expected sign of generosity and the first rite to welcome her in the village.

The burrial

Tears and smiles are indistinguishable. PapaG became an ancestor. 

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