From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Indians’ Cremation Ceremony versus disgruntled youths in Sierra Leone
By Abdul Karim Kabia
Feb 1, 2008, 17:38

The cremation ceremony that is being done by Indians in the midst of thousands of residents, if not properly handled by authorities concerned is set to result in a situation that will jeopardize the friendly bilateral relationship between the two countries-Sierra Leone and India.

Cremation ceremony is the burning to ash of the remains of people, which is mostly common among the Indians as part of their funeral traditional rites.

There was a recent clash between the Indian community and youths residing in the environs of the Kissy Road Cemetery over the cremation ceremony of the remains of an Indian national.

As there lives many Indians in Sierra Leone, cremation of dead bodies has been ongoing for several years now, and a Crematorium has been erected at the Kissy Road Cemetery where the Indians normally take their remains to perform the burning ceremony.

The normal procedure for cremation is that permission is obtained from the Ministry of Health And Sanitation and the City Council wherein a fee of Le300, 000 is paid for permission to carry on the ceremony.

The recent saga between these disgruntled youths and the Indians was triggered when youths residing at the Kissy Road Cemetery environs rebelliously prevented a bereaved Indian family in performing the cremation ceremony on the remains of a dead relative. The conflict was nurtured out of the fact that the cremation-burning of human remains-is a health hazard for residents as the smoke of the burning human remains carries an unpleasant ordour which if inhaled causes serious health problems, and also that the Indians according to residents have never in anyway participated in the cleaning of the cemetery.

Stones and other harmful missiles from the irate youths were reported to have prevented the bereaved family from entering the cemetery. Due to the unruly behaviour that was unleashed on the bereaved Indian family, they were left with no option other than to convey the corpse back to the Mortuary.

Although the youths should not have taken the law into their hands, but it is a just course they were tying to pursue-though through the wrong channel-as the cemetery is in the middle of thousands of residents whose lives are at risk of deadly diseases if the Indians continue their cremation in that particular vicinity.

The question that is still begging answers on this particular issue is why the Freetown City Council and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation have not find an amicable way of resolving this issue that continues to create total embarrassment for the Indian community? This is indeed unfair to the Indians. It is their culture and they do pay a huge sum of money for permission for the ceremony. What is being done with the Le300, 000 that these people normally pay for permission? Or are we trying to inject our non respect for our culture to these Indians?

This is not the first time that stones are being pelted on these Indian people for performing their cultural rites.

In this regard, if only the authorities concerned are ready to avert further embarrassment and stone pelting on these Indians, my suggestion is that they erect a crematorium in a convenient remote place where the ceremony will not be an eyesore nor pose any health threat for residents as it is presently at the Kissy Road environs.

Now to the youths of mama Salone, how long will you continue to use rebellious methods of resolving issues of such? Violence and pelting of stones bears no good fruit as we’ve seen how violence and rebellious act ravaged our beloved nation in the 11 years rebel war. There are channels of seeking redress in a civilized and democratic nation like ours.

Anyway, the "ROAMING PEN" sends its sincere apologies to the Indian community and assuring them that for as long as this pen exists, they will always be advocated for. Please Mr. Authority, let this situation be addressed within the shortest possible time to avoid this pen landing its comments for the second time on this issue.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.