Cremation Proposal

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 12:32:31 +0000


THE proposal by the Lusaka Mayor Wilson Kalumba to consider cremation as a form of disposing of the deceased is quite alien to Zambian society.

Mr Kalumba premises his suggestion on the fact that there is no longer available land in Lusaka district which could be used for burying of the dead.

In his assertion, cremation will help to improve the outlook of Lusaka City in the sense that the state of grave yards are not presentable as many people do not maintain their relatives’ graves.

In his view, even if Government was to find an alternative piece of land from the nearby district, it could prove costly to many Lusaka residents to travel long distances just to bury their relatives, hence sees nothing wrong with introducing cremation in the face of land scarcity that the capital city is currently grappling with.

In his judgment, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the practice because cremation has been widely embraced in most parts of Europe.

It is vital to underscore from the outset that the Mayor’s proposal for the introduction of cremation should have been made after wide consultations considering the implications that it might bring to the society.

Though it is true that even in the Christian world, which for many year was opposed to cremation but has come to a greater acceptance of the practice over the past century, societal, cultural, traditional, legal and religious considerations must be taken into account before arriving at such a social issue.

The mere fact that cremation is practiced in Europe that should not be used as an appendage to advocate for its introduction to the Zambian society.

We are sure that the Lusaka Mayor is not ignorant of the basic constitutional declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation and that repeatedly the republican President Edgar Lungu has upheld his predecessor’s vow to govern Zambia anchored on biblical ethos.

Invariably, cremation has in many Christian countries fallen out of favour due to the Christian belief in the physical resurrection of the body and as a mark of difference from the Iron Age European pre-Christian pagan religions, which usually cremated their dead. In this vein, the Zambian Christian faith is no exception in opposing this practice.

Christians have over the centuries preferred to bury the dead rather than cremate the remains on the understanding that the body is not a mere receptacle for the spirit that is the real person, but an integral part of the human person. The body has been looked at as sanctified temple of the Holy Spirit, hence requiring it to be disposed of in the manner that shows honour and reverence.

It must be noted that the proposal to introduce cremation not only has the religious practice connotation to it as practiced in religions such as Hinduism where it is taken as part of a religious rite of passage but it also poses a legal aspect.

As things stand, there is no legislation that expressly empowers the local authority to advocate for the practice of cremation in Zambia. The few funeral parlours that cremate bodies do so because they are in business and only act upon express instructions from clients which usually is on religious grounds other than Christianity.

We concur with NAREP secretary general in that cremation runs counter to Zambia’s long standing traditions with regards to interring the deceased, and that the non-availability of land should not be justification to such a proposal.

We think that Government can still find suitable alternative land near Lusaka City though in a different district. The feasible thing the Lusaka Mayor can do is to follow up on the discussions the former Lusaka Mayor had initiated regarding engaging Government to solicit customary land from traditional leaders whose jurisdiction is neighbouring Lusaka district.

Therefore, we challenge the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs to provide necessary guidance to the nation on whether it would be in order to introduce cremation as a mode of disposing of corpses.


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