Some people saw the list of contributors to the funeral of Obi Cubana’s mother and said: “Vanity upon vanity.” Some people responded: “Poverty upon poverty.”
Nigerians are comedians.
But talking seriously, Obi Cubana is reaping the fruit of his years of goodwill and giving to others. He is also unofficially indebted to those who have given to him today, because he is expected to give to them when the time comes. If he stops giving, gradually he will stop receiving, when people notice that he has stopped giving.
At the funeral proper, more gifts in cash and kind will be brought by those who will attend the funeral as their way of paying their last respect to the dead and supporting the bereaved and making the burden lighter on them.
The import of this is that the man may not spend one naira of his to bury his mum and still have more in cash and kind afterwards. But whatever he makes is not profit: it is future debt he will redeem to those who gave to him.
In Igboland, funeral is seen as inevitable; so it is turned into a communal venture whereby the community supports each person who is bereaved, and the gift of a cow is seen as the pinnacle of support. But the degree of that support is directly proportional to how the bereaved support others and the community.
In the final analysis, the poor, the financially comfortable and the rich will bury their deceased members according to their financial muscle. The danger comes when people try to out-do themselves and get mired in debts they cannot easily wriggle out of.