DEATH is an inevitable journey that every man on the planet earth will undertake and prepare for at any time, but the people of Ogoja, headquarters of Ogoja Local Government Area, located some 320 kilometers in the northern part of Cross River State, are not in a hurry to prepare for the voyage.
Natives of the community, legendary for its landmass luxuriant for the production of agricultural products like yam, rice, cassava and maize, among others detest the sight of coffins, a funerary box used for keeping a corpse and interring the dead. They would rather prefer to continue to eat and replenish the earth.
Investigation by Niger Delta Voice showed that because of the villagers’ abhorrence for death, the people have prohibited the sale of coffins in tribes and villages in Ogoja, including Ishibori, Igoli, Ogboja and Abakpa.
It is not, however, that Ogoja people do not die or require burial in coffins, they actually do like every other people, but according to the elders of the area, the sale of coffins increases the rate of death. Therefore, to stem death rate, the people decreed a restriction on the sale of coffins.
Difficulties in procuring coffins
Astonishingly, the existence of two major hospitals in the area, General Hospital, Ogoja and Monaya Hospital attracts a string of sick people into the city to seek medical aid. Patients from Boki, Yala, Ukele, Bekwara and Obudu and other places troop to the city to seek medical care in these famous hospitals.
Because death has no calendar, many patients pay the inevitable debt at any time, but with the ban on the sale of coffins, members of the bereaved families travel to Ikom, 217 kilometers from Calabar, the state capital, Vandeikya in Benue State, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State and other distant places to buy coffins. The distant trip in search of coffins adds to the cost of the burial for the loved ones.
Get your coffin elsewhere
A community leader in Ishibori, David Ishor, told Niger Delta Voice that coffins were not conventional articles of trade, so no coffin shops are allowed to operate in any Ogoja town or village and nobody can change that or force the people to have a change of mind. “Why should a normal person want to trade on a thing like that because every morning the prayer of a businessman or trader is for people to patronize him, so then a man who sells coffins will be praying for people to die so that his business could prosper, is that a good thing,” he rhetorically asked.
Chief Ishor said right from time people bury their dead with mats and not coffins and wondered what the craze about burying people in coffins nowadays is about. He, however, said that insisting on burying his person with a coffin could get it from anywhere, but not Ogoja.
According to him, if the sale of coffins is good business, the person who plans to stock such items should store them in his living room to appreciate the “goodness” of his wares. “Look, there is something spiritual about death and there are things you do, you encourage it to strike people and we do not want that in Ogoja, so no sale of coffins here,” he stressed.
Culed from Vanguard