Burial Custom of Tiv People
The date of burial in either case be it of an elderly or younger person should not coincide with any major activity within the locality and also supposed to be a date convenient for the immediate family that fixes the date.
Tiv are found everywhere in Nigeria but mainly in Benue, Nassarawa, and Taraba states in Nigeria.
As one moves across the country to acquire information on the burial custom of different ethnic groups in Nigeria, one must come to a conclusion that there exist among cultures to an extent a wide range of variety in the cultures, from one ethnic groups to the another, the culture may be similar or vary with significant length.
Custom could be inherent. All through human cultures there exist among ethnic groups certain cultures that are inherent some are acquired and continue to evolve with history. Some of these customs are beneficial whereas some others may be detrimental to the society or race that adopts them.
Writing about the burial custom of the Tiv people, much attention shall be given to that of elderly persons. The reason is because, when a younger person dies it a matter of the elders of the community where the deceased belongs to sit together to come out with an appropriate date to bury the person.
“This date of burial in either case be it of an elderly or younger person should not coincide with any major activity within the locality and also supposed to be a date convenient for the immediate family that fix the date.“
As the day of the burial approaches the women in the locality fetch water and fill the available reservoirs and collect firewood that would be used at the burial ceremony for cooking food for visitors, whereas the youth clears the deceased compound and make available shelter to accommodate visitors at the burial ceremony, and also mobilises themselves and dig a grave for the deceased where the elders, particularly the eldest of the family has directed them to do so.
Basically these are the things involved when it is a younger person that dies, it’s not as rigorous as in the case of the death of an elderly person.
In the case of an elderly person, as soon as he/she dies, all the elders of the community usually sit together to prepare ahead of the burial ceremony.To fix a date of the burial, a message is sent to the deceased mother’s kinsmen and to all the son-inlaws of that clan the deceased belongs to. As for the deceased mother’s kinsmen it is just to inform them of their child’s departure. However for the son-inlaws, the essence of inviting them is so that they could get together and fix a date convenient for them, since the burial obligations are mostly saddled upon them.
It is in the course of the meeting with all the son in-laws that each son in-laws is allotted what he shall bring in respect to the burial ceremony of the deceased. From the meeting, a son in-law could be allotted to make(Akwati) coffin, another son in-law to bring (kough taagh) tobacco, another Ikyondu(cloth that shall be used to bury the deceased) another to bring drinks, and others may be required to bring a goat with certain amount of money each, yet others may be allotted to pay to dig the grave. After the meeting, each son in-law goes back to their houses and prepare for what they were allotted to bring.
Meanwhile before the wake keep, as demanded by the tradition members of the clan usually go out most especially at night to identify with the family of the deceased, and to console and mourn with them.
On the day of wake keep all the in-laws come with their contributions and handover them to the eldest of the family of the deceased. However the son in-law who was asked to make the coffin usually is supposed to bring it earlier on the day of wake keep or a day before wake keep. This is to ensure timely availability of the coffin. After collecting the items from the son in-laws that elder shows them a place to sit.
The items brought by the son-in-laws such as the goats, drinks and other food stuffs are used to entertain the visitors that attend the burial ceremony.
The following morning, the elderly member of the family goes about and checks the in-laws where they were shown to sit after which he addresses the whole people at the burial ceremony.
Following the elderly person’s address is the biography of the deceased. After reading the biography of the deceased the remain is brought out of the house where it was kept. Then at this time all the women run into their houses. It is also at this stage that the cause of the death of the deceased is investigated. After which an elder of the family instruct the young men to take the corps for internment.
After the internment, all the people return to their various destinations.