How To Mourn Publicly In Nigeria.

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Credit: TY Bello

For 2014, the crude death rate, the total number of deaths per year per 1000 people is 7.89. Expand on that and you arrive at an estimated 55 million deaths per year. Breaking it down leaves you with over 150,000 deaths per day, over 6000 deaths per hour, and over 100 per second, that’s almost two people each second! So by the time you’re done reading this, over a thousand people have died.

A wise man once said; “As long as there is life, there will be death”, and death, despite being something that happens so frequently, is still very much painful, its inevitability doesn’t help either. Another wise man also once said; “whatever is worth doing is worth doing well”, and mourning publicly is just something we happen to do, it is my duty here today to teach you how to do that well.

Take note that the term “mourning publicly” for the purposes and intent of this article only covers mourning on social networks, not the competitive type you see in Nollywood flicks where people display their vocal dexterity. Also that this article will not be covering deaths of relatives or acquaintances, how you mourn those ones is your cup of tea not mine.

It is very important that we mourn publicly, so that when we all inevitably die, we shall in turn be mourned publicly. The quality of the public mourning you will receive is directly proportional to that which you give, it has absolutely nothing to do with your relationship with people, and I shall go on to illustrate this.

Now, I have made it clear that death is something that happens so frequently, and if we are being honest, we can agree that death of different people cause varying degrees of impact, you cannot tell me that GEJ’s death and Yaradua’s will have the same impact, you are ignorant and need to be educated if you think so. That said, the most common rookie mistake people make is to hastily commiserate publicly. Don’t be hasty in mourning every person that dies, don’t be one of those people that rush to show pseudo-compassion by sending out tweets and BBM updates and what not. You need to remain calm and calculated, you need to analyze the death proper and find out what’s in it for you, besides, with the amount of deaths that occur daily, it’s not an obligation for you to mourn all, in fact, it is impossible, which is why it is important that you pick out the most profitable ones, so that when you inevitably die, you will be held to the same standards. It’s all business, nothing personal.

Deaths of famous people are one of the most profitable ones, especially if you are one of the first to commiserate. Your BBM contacts or Twitter followers might not openly admit it, but they are very envious when you are the first to announce the death of a famous person. It doesn’t matter if you were completely oblivious to the existence of the said person hitherto their demise, a quick Google search should arm you with all the info you need to defend your mourning. It is also necessary that you seek out profound quotes of the deceased, along with photos with intimate poses, to further prove how well you knew the person. Once again, it doesn’t matter that you were completely oblivious to the person’s existence, you cannot, because of that small detail, pass up a chance to shine in their death, I’m sure they’ll understand. Besides, who will know?

Now, say for instance for one reason or another you were unable to mourn the person on time (the acceptable time to mourn being a maximum of a day, anything past that and you’re just showing the world how backward and uninformed you are), say maybe the witches from your ex’s village decided to mess up your network or something like that, not to worry, there is an effective damage control. All you need to do is to comb the news for other less significant deaths, the greater the number of casualties the better. It’s even better if the death has some political inclination, say like death by terrorists and all. If you’re worried you might not find any, refer to the beginning of this article.

Now, on finding the less publicized death(s), you can now proceed to the sacred art of sanctimony, whereby you berate those that are mourning the famous person, you shame them and question their humanity and patriotism. Say things like, “Nigerians love to famz, this so called person died and yet no one mourned them, yet a famous person you know nothing about dies and you all mourn him/her”..

You get the idea, just work them up, guilt trip them into diverting the attention to the death you found out about. It is not enough to let people mourn who they chose to mourn; it is your moral obligation to ensure that they mourn the appropriate person; you don’t want to be the weird standout person that’s mourning some loser no one knows about. Some haters will try to point out how both deaths are similar in that both are of people they did not know; some might even have the audacity to claim that the famous person influenced their lives in one way or another, or even lay silly accusations like you being insensitive by taking away from one death to add to another. Pay them no heed whatsoever, it’s the guilt talking. Ignore it and hold steadfast to your sanctimony, they’re merely trying to topple you over and take your position. Hold on long enough and you will soon notice a shift in attention, people will move on from the famous person onto the one you dug up, and you will be celebrated as the pioneer mourner.

It is also important to note that these sorts of deaths are best effective when used in tandem with more famous deaths. You don’t want to come out on a happy Friday and spoil people’s mood with some Boko Haram related death, no, you do not want to be that fellow. Besides, considering how frequently they occur, it is only natural that people become desensitized over time, also they lose their value in the business of public mourning, too much availability reduces the value of things, this is science, don’t argue.

Some extra tips that help;

Gory pictures of the deceased; this will have people Re-tweeting you more times than you could possibly imagine, or even better, ping you till your phone runs out of battery. It’s even better if you take the photos and spread them yourselves. It is important that you create awareness. Some people might mutter something about being insensitive to the deceased in displaying the gory photos, pay them no heed, they’re just jealous, I’m sure the deceased won’t mind at all. People love rubbernecking; it’s a service to humanity to satisfy that urge.

Hash tags; this is where a bit of creativity and originality is needed; you need to create very catchy and easy to memorize tags. Multiple tags are allowed, but they have to be short and precise. If you’re lucky enough, you get to start a trend and feel good about yourself.

Proselytize; Death is a very useful instrument in the business of proselytizing. People become afraid and more vulnerable to your polemics. God forbid that you pass up a good opportunity to convert a soul. It is necessary for you to state that people should thank God their lives are spared on a daily basis, how they have no one but the Lord to be thankful for that, shove it in their faces if you must. It is even better if you were somewhat involved; say for instance a bomb blast or auto accident. It doesn’t matter if you were actually there when it happened, or have never been there at all in your life, sorting out the details is all pedantry. You only need equip yourself with necessary info and some photos and you’re good to go. State loudly and proudly how the good Lord saved your life, people need to know of his good works, especially in times of chaos, as people tend to lose faith in God when bad things happen. It is your duty as a religious person to restore that faith by reassuring them of the goodness of the Lord in sparing your life. Some people might say you’re being insensitive to the deceased (how original) or try to prove smart by asking if the deceased were not worthy of the lords blessing, to that you shall reply “God knows best” or “God giveth, God taketh”. But only if you’re in a good mood, otherwise simply ignore them and wrap yourself in a cloak of righteous indignation, for how dare they question the will of the Almighty.

Obligatory funny photos; this is another one that involves a tiny bit of creativity, don’t panic, there’s little creativity involved and no originality whatsoever. This is the part where you make those funny screen shot conversations when someone asks about the deceased and you give them a false reply, e.g A: Bros, who’s this Nelson Mandela? B: One musician like that. You know the kind right? Very easy to setup, only downside is that it only works with deaths of famous people, and you get to share the pioneer spotlight with someone, unless you have two BBM accounts. You will want to use a generic name like Musa, everybody knows that people called Musa are not very bright. The tricky part about this one is timing, timing is everything; do it too soon and people will complain, do it too late and people will deem it bland and won’t help spread and make your joke popular. It is imperative that you get the timing right. A minute or two of silence usually suffices. As expected, the social justice warriors will come attacking you for this one and complain about you being insensitive (again, so original) you shall say to them to pull the giant rod out of their behinds and have some fun. Everybody knows that laughter is the best medicine, (science, don’t argue) and that pharmaceutical companies and comedians make billions from selling medicine, but you have decided out of the abundance of your heart to offer it for free, and someone dare complain? Tell me how our good Lord will not elevate you and bring them down.

In the event that you miss out of taking the photos yourself or creating the hash tags or funny photos, you must participate in vehemently spreading all the photos you come across and re-tweet all the hash tags on your TL. It is vital that you try to arm yourself with as much information as possible about the death, for believe me you, the attention will come, and with them will be questions, you need to be prepared. If the death becomes too popular that you would gain no attention from participating in the mourning, simply follow the step that involves the sacred art of sanctimony.

Also, don’t forget to pray so that the Good Lord will bless your mourning hustle. I wish you the best of luck, now proceed to mourn like a pro.

Twitter; @chinweikejb

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