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Man Earns Living Through Mourning, He Has Buried Over 200 Strangers

by 04/12/2015 12:48:00 0 comments 1 Views
Man Earns Living Through Mourning, He Has Buried Over 200 Strangers
Man Earns Living Through Mourning, He Has Buried Over 200 Strangers

John "Mariro," Abraham is well known in most of Harare's high-density suburbs. His fame rests on what he calls solid personal achievements. At the age of 39, he has helped to bury more than 200 "strangers".

People have christened him "Mariro" (Funeral) because he has become a permanent feature at all funerals that occur in Mabvuku-Tafara. A sombre atmosphere usually engulfs relatives when a loved one passes on. Emotions, frustrations, regrets, suicidal thoughts and feelings of emptiness spur mourners many days to follow.

Who is going to be the pastor?

Who is going to lead the funeral parade? Where are the in-laws? These are questions that relatives ask when a beloved one dies.

"That is where I come in; I provide solace to the down- trodden, hope to the hopeless, light moments to the dark spirited, laughter to the crying and I can cry much more than the bereaved, for a fee of course," said John when Saturday Lifestyle tracked him at his home in Tafara, Harare.

John is an all-rounder when it comes to funeral proceedings.

He is well known for singing, has got unique dancing skills and also assumes "pastoral" roles in some cases. 

"I can be a muroora if they want me to. People can hire me to be a 'Chief Mourner,' at their funerals. If there is no one to pray for the deceased, I do it with no hassles," he said.

However, his greatest asset is his ability to make fellow mourners laugh their lungs out during these trying times. He has a humorous way of expressing himself.

He is so obsessed with funerals that he sometimes pitches at funerals uninvited and takes over the proceedings. When people refuse to give him his "dues, he sits on the grave.

What is interesting is how John has mastered the art of mourning. He sometimes sheds tears and becomes emotional like a close relative of the deceased as he writhes in pain to a pulsating beat.

"Why did you leave us so soon? The earth is now covered in a black veil. The rivers and streams are crying to tell your story — that of an honest man," he sobs uncontrollably.

"I shed tears for your children and grandchildren. We're so sorry we could not keep you here," he sobs.

"This is goodbye, with no return date. The path to the great beyond is arduous, and beset by storms. Take good care of yourself," he cries.

John was born and bred in Tafara. For the past 10 years he has been surviving on mourning at funerals. He is also hired to entertain mourners at cemeteries such as Warren Hills and Granville (Kumbudzi).

"It's my talent and I am living fairly well, though people are stingy. Sometimes I get only a dollar for my services," he said.

Though he tied the knot in 2004, John never lived with his wife. The wife could not stomach her husband's "profession", which she described as sadist. Though bizarre and alien in Zimbabwe, in parts of China, where pre-burial rituals are observed, mourners known as 'kusangren' are hired to guarantee that a funeral is a spectacle in grief.

Professional mourners come to work with a full sound system and band members. While most would frown upon the idea of hiring professional mourners to grieve for ancestors in their stead, there are many conflicting opinions regarding the notion of mourners accompanying people in mourning.

Using crocodile tears to mourn, some feel, the process is alien and a taboo in African tradition.

But professional mourners or moirologists have been utilised throughout history, notably in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages. People still practise moirology in parts of the world, though it's largely disappeared from Western culture.

 
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