Liberal in life, but not so in death • Catholics, Adventists and Mwazha followers clash over burial rites

Religious leaders conduct burial rites for Ignatius Madidi, his wife Roselyne and their son Goodwill who perished in a road traffic accident. It was a unique burial because they all belonged to different churches which also do things differently

Religious leaders conduct burial rites for Ignatius Madidi, his wife Roselyne and their son Goodwill who perished in a road traffic accident. It was a unique burial because they all belonged to different churches which also do things differently

Freedom Mupanedemo Features Writer
British rabbi, philosopher, theologian and politician Jonathan Sacks once said; “God has given us many faiths, but only one world in which to co-exist. May your work help all of us to cherish our commonalities and feel enlarged by our differences.”

In the case of the Madidi family of Romney Park, Bulawayo, Sacks’ views sum up how they co-existed until death knocked on their door on July 2, 2017.

Ignatius Madidi (76) was Catholic, his wife Roselyne (65) was a member of the African Apostolic Church (Mwazha), while their son Godwill Kudakwashe (32) was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA).

They co-existed as a close-knit family, but each person attended a church of his or her choice.

Each Sunday morning, Ignatius would wake up early and his wife Roselyne helped him prepare for church without any problem.

She, too, would prepare for church every Saturday, attend Cottage prayers between 5:30pm and 7pm every Friday and Tuesdays and women’s meetings every Thursday.

Their son Goodwill would also go to church every Saturday and the family blended perfectly well.

When the trio perished in a road traffic accident along the Masvingo-Mutare Highway three weeks ago, their otherwise united family was “separated”.

Each soul needed to be companied on its final journey to meet the maker through song and dance by colleagues from their religious denominations.

Each church naturally wanted to give its member a befitting send-off.

What complicated matters was the decision to bury the trio side-by-side at West Park Cemetery in Bulawayo on July 7.

The dilemma was on whether or not to have a joint service or allow each church to take care of its member.

It took the funeral director to explain to mourners what would happen.

“Can we have your ears please? We would like to inform you that this family was so liberal that every member attended a church of his or her choice.

“So today we have three churches which will help us bury our departed loved ones,” he said.

“The husband was Catholic, his wife attended Mwazha while the son went to SDA and all the churches are represented here today for the burial of each of their own,” he said.

“We will accord each church a chance to give its deceased member what it thinks is a befitting send-off,” quipped the funeral director while addressing hundreds of mourners gathered at the Madidi house as he tried to calm a potentially fiery situation.

The Herald followed proceedings at the funeral wake as three hearses prepared to ferry the bodies to their final resting place.

It was a unique setup.

At the funeral, attempts to “outdo” each other in song and dance were evident.

While there was no time for a funeral mass in line with Catholic rites, the Catholics were afforded time to sing and conduct a prayer for their member.

Adventists sang their songs, while Mwazha Apostolic Church members conducted their rites.

The SDA Church leadership saw no reason to foment confusion and allowed the Roman Catholic Church to preside over the burial.

But the Mwazha Apostolic Sect did not share that view.

This was for sure one of the most saddening and complex funerals. Talk of religious liberalism and here it was!

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