Beautification of the dead is something we are very good at in this clime of ours. We believe speaking ill of the dead is bad. We subtly feel that any ill word against the departed is akin to mockery. Our reactions to former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter on the death of late Ogun state former senator, Buruji Kashamu, is an attestation to this. To us, the golden rule must never be broken – ‘Don’t speak ill of the dead.” Alas, this is us in our highest state of hypocrisy.
In our unexplained fantasies, every dead person has a beautiful soul. Hence, we gladly shout – May his/her gentle soul rest in peace. And to cover our hypocrisy, we fiercely defend the dead, saying – ‘you have no right to judge others’ or we say ‘the dead cannot defend himself/herself,’ ‘Why not say this when he was alive?’
No man should be blamed for ‘writing ill’ of any dead person because a dead person might be good to you and evil to me. Based on your relationship with him, you wrote your beautiful words in the person’s memory so why stop me from writing mine based on my relationship or knowledge? If a family member is aggrieved with any ill word against the dead, if there is a provision in our law to seek redress in court, do so, if not, counter the narration and let the accuser prove the allegation.
Now, why do we always speak badly of late General Sani Abacha? Why do we always speak ill of the notorious criminal Anini? Or the great terrorist, Osama Bin Laden? Is it because of the ‘monstrosity’ of their crimes or for just the crimes they committed? Let us also look at this – A woman destroyed another woman’s family. Snatched her husband and made the man abandon his wife and 6 children. When the man died, this woman also took over all the property the man left behind even though she knew the man had other children. When death came calling for this woman, her children, some close confidant of hers called her soul a gentle one, but in reality, was that a gentle soul? Or because she was dead, those children she deprived of a better life have no right to write about her evil deeds?
In another scenario. A man stole his late brother’s property and subjected his family to untold hardship. When such a person dies, his children and close associates who are beneficiaries of his evil acts have the right to celebrate his memory. But because he is dead, you think it is wrong for those who he wronged to talk about the evil he did while alive? You want them to just shut up and go on living. Why?
To me, it is ethically wrong to crucify a person for writing ill of the dead. Many dead men and women are not of beautiful souls while in this our world and there is nothing wrong in saying what you feel about them if you care. Obasanjo is right to write what he feels about the departed Kashamu. Enough of our hypocrisy!