HomeLife & StyleTapman: Funerals — The new social marketing platform

Tapman: Funerals — The new social marketing platform


Good day, or as I have been duly educated: “What’s up, Zimbabwe?”

This week has been somewhat of a challenge for me from sick babies to being not so well myself.

Sadly though, this past week my uncle passed on after a battle with leukemia.

As we do traditionally, we gathered at his residence to console one another and assist the immediate family with funeral arrangements.

Interestingly though, at the evening service held shortly after his body arrived a very vivacious pastor preached the Gospel and used the platform to promote himself, under the guise of converting non-christians to Christians, and getting so-called Christians to take a reality check on their faith.

Was it the correct setting? I really don’t know. His main sermon covered problems with marriage, men, women, children of today and our belief systems and values.

Anyway, next day the burial was held and I must say the graveside speeches were relevant and short. I left early so I could pass by my late mom’s resting place and make sure the grave was still in good order.

As I got there, a funeral procession passed and stopped at a nearby site. What first caught my attention were the leading cars, the latest Mercs, BMWs, Range Rovers etc, followed by buses and other “lesser” cars.

What then captured my shocked attention, were, out of the cars came the most extravagantly smartly dressed ladies, but I am quite sure that in their rush to keep time, they forgot to put on the bottom half of their outfits.

They had huge shades, big hats and heels. The men were dressed in very expensive tailored-looking suits, and they also had shades on.

One very light lady, who stood out wore a blue dress — if I can call it that — no stockings and very high heels! At a burial! The people who then disembarked from the buses wore either church uniform, or had the traditional “Zambias”(sarongs), and the men dressed smartly.

There was a distinct division between the two parties. Needless to say, none of the ladies sat down, because I think that would have just caused death at a funeral due to heart attacks from the elderly.

Seeing as dressing is a person’s choice, are we now open to any kind of dressing irrespective of where we are?

I am trying to imagine for the life of me, men attending a funeral dressed only in formal shirts and shoes, maybe with those tiny shorts worn by marathon runners, underneath to give it a bit of dignity.

I began to think about what the pastor was saying and trying to tie it in with what I had seen. What is it with some women that they feel the need to be the centre of attraction even in the wrong setting?

If we look at the pattern of things, in rhumba and hip-hop videos, it is the women who are barely dressed and the men fully and extremely suavely dressed. A burial is only a few hours, and I believe it is very possible to look chic whilst fully clad!

Why do we feel the need to bare almost all?

Back to the pastor, what is with capitalising on funerals to be seen and heard, again trying to be the centre of attraction.

Are funerals the new place for people to market themselves and their talents/jobs. In some west African countries, I am made to believe that some people make it their sole purpose to be invited to speak at funerals, irrespective of the fact that they had no relation (blood or friendship) with the departed and they use it to profile themselves as great orators, motivational speakers?

In this era of globalisation, is it that traditions have evolved so much that funerals are not treated as sacred anymore and we should start encouraging our clients and our companies to think about funerals as a marketing channel?

Could this be the new revolutionary social marketing platform?

As a people, what message are we communicating to each other regarding death, should we take the pastor’s stance that the departed have gone, that’s the end of their story, but, we are still alive and should carry on without any pretences?

Maybe that is the question? Why should we pretend to be super-dignified and churchy in one setting whilst being someone else in another setting?

Is that the way forward to “be who you want to be, dress how you want to dress, say what you want to say because it’s your life and we only live once?”

I don’t know, but if you have any comments, please email oldschoolvalues@gmail.com.

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