In the DRC, families increasingly send the remains of deceased loved ones back to their home villages rather than bury them in the city. It is both an age-old tradition and a way to protect against irreverence.

MBANDAKA — When a shopkeeper from the Bikoro territory died suddenly earlier this year, his body was rapidly repatriated by his family to his native village to be buried there. A few weeks earlier, two other bodies took the same direction. One of them was returned on a motorized boat to Bomongo, more than 300 kilometers north of Mbandaka.

Watching the funeral procession heading towards the village with watery eyes, a sixty-something Ekolo Paul promised himself, “I, too, would like to be buried beside my relatives. As soon as I get my pension, I’ll save a bit of money to organize my funeral.” These past few months, being buried at home has become a ritual for those living in the town of Mbandaka.

M’bokolo Elima, who works for the state and lives in this capital of the Equateur province, explains that the gradual return to this tradition can be explained by better roads but most of all by the lack of respect some city residents have for the dead. “It is now possible to drive to locations that used to be isolated and afford the luxury of burying family members there,” he says.
Read the full article: Fearing Desecration, Congolese Resurrect Ancient Burial Rites
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