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Traditional Burial

An excerpt from the writings of Simon Ottenberg, an American anthropologist who lived and studied amongst the Ehugbo (Afikpo) people of Eastern Igboland during the 1950s and 60s:

“When a mature male dies his eldest son is responsible for burial and the funeral ceremony. The burial is followed by a series of related rituals, which generally continue to express the relative positions of the descent groups. The first is the 'goat funeral’. This ceremony is followed by the ritual of placing a shrine pot for the deceased in his ancestral house. At any later time the deceased’s eldest son may perform the 'cow funeral’, giving his father’s matrikinsmen a cow, and a horse as well if he is rich. The ceremony is optional, and is a prestige ritual to honor the father and display the son’s wealth.”

— Simon Ottenberg, 1968: Double Descent in an African Society; The Afikpo Village-Group, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1968.

Photo: circa 1952.

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