The Oasis Reporters
April 11, 2018
By Fr. Mike Gandu
Answers to this question may vary from one African society to the other; and from one community to the other. However in almost all African societies, what qualifies one to be an ancestor includes OLD AGE, GOOD LIFE (that is life lived according to the accepted moral standards of the community), and FUNERAL RITES.
In some societies, “the funeral rites are absolutely necessary because they are regarded as ‘rites of passage’ by which the dead are installed as ancestors. To these requirements of old age, good moral life and funeral rites, Metuh notes, some societies add GOOD DEATH.
Thinking about the life of the late Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri and the necessary conditions of becoming an ancestor, I have considered him qualified to be an ancestor. May His gentle soul continue to rest in heaven.
GOOD LIFE: While alive the late Bishop lived a GOOD LIFE; he was very prayerful, he loved God and man, he was faithful to his priestly calling, he showed love to the poor and the downtrodden, he was always compassionate, he worked tirelessly for the growth of the Church of God and the society and was a bridge builder. A great ancestor you are now.
FUNERAL RITES: His funeral rites were almost the best, if not the best as far as history is concerned. From the mortuary, there you were laid like a king waiting for the housemaids to come, tap and inform you that the day is dawn. You were later bathed and vested with your priestly regalia and placed into a beautiful white casket, then into a waiting flashy ambulance.
The convoy from Kaduna to Kafanchan was something else. Your people received you warmly; the Church later received you with love. Prayers upon prayers were said for you till dawn.
The unimaginable was at the stadium where countless number of Catholics, other denominations and other religions came together to bid you goodbye. This affirms what John Lennon said “count your age by friends not years…” You were given a befitting burial. It was wow. A great ancestor you are now.
OLD AGE: Our life span is 70 and 80 for those who are strong says the Psalmist (Psalm 90:10). In most African societies, this is the ideal age to be considered an ancestor. Although you died at 64, does that mean you are not qualified to be an ancestor?
Your achievements, your good works and the indelible mark you left behind qualifies you to join the company of the great men and women…ancestors. According to Abraham Lincoln, “and in the end, it is not the years in your life that counts; it is the life in your years”.
A great ancestor you are now.
GOOD DEATH: Good death is simply achieving an end that one would have wanted. Though you passed through pain, as a result of your failed health which eventually claimed your life. Your dead was a good death, after all you had the opportunity to achieve your purpose as a priest and as a bishop. You lived a prayerful life and communed daily with your maker. Little wonder then, that you chose to take your last breath close to the Archbishop’s private chapel.
A great ancestor you are now.
My bishop, because you have joined the company of ancestors who have gone to rejoin God the Father in heaven and in the spirit world, you have therefore become an intermediary between God and your children here in the diocese of Kafanchan, southern Kaduna, Kaduna state and Nigeria at large. Continue to intercede for us. Pray for us as you always did while with us.
Do not fail to return to us, your human family from time to time and share meals with us, you are always welcome.
You are our guardian; always guard our affairs, our beliefs, our traditions, our ethics and our daily activities.
As a strong protector; continue to protect our communities and southern Kaduna as a whole from unjust attacks from the enemy. As an advocate of justice and equity, present the case of southern Kaduna and all those who are victims of injustice to God our father.
As a voice for the voiceless, continue to speak for a people whose rights and privileges have been continually trampled upon and deprived.
It’s already 30 days since you left us. It’s always hard accepting the fact that you are no more. Our consolation is in the fact that you fought a good fight and you ran a good race.
May the Lord whom you served so well continue to grant you that rest which you deprived yourself of here on earth trying to accomplish the task he bestowed on you.
May He crown you with the crown of glory.
May the light of God’s glory continue to shine on you.
May the soul of Bishop Joseph Bagobiri and the souls of other faithful find rest in heaven.
Written by Fr. Mike Gandu