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Moana’s Somewhat Neverending Burial Litigation Got Me Considering Diogenes’ Philosophy

Moana (pictured) died in a tragic car crash with three others, Genius Ginimbi Kadungure, Limumba Karim and Alichia Adams early this month.

AFTER weeks of legally kicking and smacking each other on the pudendum and crotches, High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda today finally settled the dispute between Ishmael Amuli and Yolander Kuvaoga in which they were fighting over the burial site for their daughter, socialite and fitness model Mitchell ‘Moana’ Amuli.

Moana died in a tragic car crash with three others, Genius Ginimbi Kadungure, Limumba Karim and Alichia Adams early this month. While the remains of all her friends have been interred, hers is still among the living, used by spiteful parents to makeover a long-gone sad love story. Her estranged dad and mom desire different funeral ceremonies and different gravesites.

Pops was pushing for a Muslim burial at Warren Hills; Momma wanted her daughter buried under Christian rituals at Zororo Memorial Park.

Well, they battled it out, both in legal and the court of public sentiment. Kuvaoga submitted to the High Court that her daughter required a send-off befitting of her celebrity status and not a Muslim one as wanted by her pop. But Amuli, armed with a burial order issued by the Registrar of Births and Deaths, send her daughter was Muslim and she will be send-off accordingly.

Thus, upon hearing all these tales of who raised the kid, who knew her teacher and who didn’t pay lobola etc, Justice Kwenda today granted the rights of Moana’s body and burial to her father. His Worship ruled that the mother was simply “basking in the perceived grandeur of the deceased lifestyle” without giving the courts reasons and evidence on why she did not want Amuli to bury her daughter. The judge also said Kuvaoga was barely present in her daughter’s life while Amuli raised Moana alone.

Now let’s just pretend that chapter is closed for a minute. I’m an impatient person by nurture; Zimbabwe taught me that. That shit doesn’t work here. In fact, two things definitely don’t work in this country of our: faith and patience. Y’all gonna getcho hair grey waiting for one damn thang to happen around here, ok?

This Moana burial procedure was starting to feel like yet another hopeless Zimbabwe trend for me that for a solid hour I seriously concurred with ancient Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes, despite that the man was extreme in a lot of ways.

Diogenes deliberately lived on the street, and, under his philosophy that people should not be embarrassed to do private things in public, was said to be shitting and wanking openly in front of everybody.

Plato called him “a Socrates gone mad.”

Shocking right to the end, he told his friends that when he died, he didn’t want to be buried. He wanted them to throw his body over the city wall where it could be devoured by animals.

“What harm then can the mangling of wild beasts do me if I am without consciousness?” he questioned. 

What is a dead body but an empty shell? What does it matter what happens to it? Man was asking.

Like, I was so close to endorsing his philosophy with all the Moana thing raging. Not that it matters, or that it was going to change anything.

Imagine a world like that! People have cared for the bodies of their dead since at least 10,000 B.C., and so the reason for continuing to do so is a tautology. In his book, “The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains”, Thomas Laqueur writes:

“We live with the dead because we, as a species, live with the dead.”

And that we do so, he contends, is one thing that brings us as a species from nature into culture. What makes a person a person is gone from their bodies upon death, and there’s really no logical reason why we should care for the empty container; why we should embalm it, dress it up, and put it on display, or why we should collect its burnt remains in a jar and place it on the mantle.

Then I was like, wait a minute… in spite of the coherency of Diogenes’s logic, it’s highly unthinkable that folks would just throw the corpses of their loved ones over a wall and leave them to the elements. Dead bodies matter because humans have decided that they matter, and they’ve continued to matter over time even as the ways people care for bodies have changed.

So yeah, the body is technically nothing once void of its soul, or consciousness, or however one conceives of the essence of a person; that we get. But it’s a physical emblem of that person, and in caring for it, we offer the person’s memory a chance to linger, as we hope our own will.

Physical death could be quick and final, but tell you what? Social death takes time. And through communal effort, people offer each other the chance for their names to last a little longer in the world than their bodies do.

It just so happens that in doing so, sometimes it takes family squabbling and fighting. As we saw unveil with Moana’s.

How unfortunate! 

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller/Critic at Large in Culture at Enthuse Afrika

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