Fact: Death touches us all.
It also happens to be one of the saddest, gloomiest and most depressing topics of late.
It has been described by those in the know as a rite of passage that life takes, to top that, it has also taken precedence as part of every nation’s custom.
The Egyptians keep their dead mummified for the afterlife, the Norwegians burn their dead; there are some nations who let their dead people’s bodies float with the ocean.
While we here in our beloved Botswana bury our loved ones in a 6-feet deep hole, where they are expected to rest peacefully until judgment day or when the government decides to build a profitable venture over the cemetery.
In its complex state, even doctors mince words when deciding the most fitting scientific explanation of death.
Some argue that death occurs when the heart stops beating while some find it appropriate to claim that death occurs when the brain stops functioning.
Formalities aside, death is a destroyer of families, hardly a day passes by that a breadwinner’s life is spared, it’s also an interesting fact that every minute that passes by, someone out there in the world is dying.
Death takes away husbands and leaves widows, takes away parents and leaves orphans.
Everyday, news channels show clips of people’s lives being taken for reasons that are beyond pathetic to most.
We read news clips and hear sermons at church of people advising, actually begging others to appreciate their lives, to cherish it because it is deemed precious and priceless.
People being advised to spend adequate time with their loved ones, to make the most of what little they have, before the mysterious monster, that is death, comes knocking at their door.
The fact that no one knows when its coming is a scary thought to most.
Cases of the soldier who didn’t know where the bullet that hit him came from, but it sure was a fatal one.
The mother who had gone to buy groceries for the family an hour ago, she said she was on her way home yet she never made it back, some drunken trucker ran into her.
The unsuspecting man waiting for the traffic lights to turn green so he could go home to his newly-wed bride, could not have seen the gun at his window in time to dodge the bullet that tore through his brain.
A leader who stands up for his people’s rights could not have known that the same person he was helping was the one who would strangle him in his bed.
A man who gets an abnormal upset stomach that he thinks will go away soon only to lead to his death which happens to be two days away.
That same day he was supposed to see his daughter receive an award at the pre-school prize giving ceremony, they said he was wearing the new black suit he bought from Man and Moda.
Add to all these things, the number one killer of most Africans mostly Botswana: HIV/AIDS and, yes, of course, Zanu PF militia in Zimbabwe.
Yet everyday the youth of Botswana are forever risking their lives despite many protests from those who care.
Take kombi drivers for instance, some of these guys drive as if they forget that they are holding people’s lives in their hands. Even when boarding combis, most people don’t give thought to the fact that they are entrusting their lives onto the driver.
Kombi drivers will risk killing people. For what? Just so they could skip the red light as they allegedly didn’t see any car approaching until it hit them.
As for the irresponsible young men who are always driving around in drunken state, shame on you for causing car accidents that took the lives of so many innocent law abiding citizens.
Pity is also passed to that girl who is always sleeping around without using protection.
Are Batswana fearless?
Our Kgomotso Kgwagaripane, a Sunday Standard reporter, believes that the fear of death arises from having one’s faith shaken.
“When I was a full-blown believer in Christ, death did not scare me for I was prepared, but nowadays death is a terrifying aspect for my faith is not what it used to be.”
Kgwagaripane is afraid of what comes after death; as a believer one is told that only the pure hearted and those who lived for Christ would enter the kingdom of God.
Although her mistakes are not altogether abnormal, she fears going to hell most because she hasn’t had time to reconnect with her God. She has seen many instances were death came about out of the blue and hopes that when her time comes she would be ready but she remains skeptical for death in most cases is never a choice.
“You die at a time where you have everything to live for.”
Kelemogile Mooke, a 22-year-old unemployed woman says she too has a phobia of death.
Death has taken her mother, father and little sister in a terrible car accident that shattered her life.
The incident occurred a long time ago yet the pain is still fresh.
She now lives with her aunt who she claims to be a difficult and unpleasant woman.
Both her parents were hard workers who were, unfortunately, not aware of life insurance policies because they thought they were too young to consider dying.
Mooke claims to be surprised at herself everyday when she wakes up, for she can’t believe she made it this far.
“I am paralyzed with fear every time I have to board a combi, a car or even a bus. I know how dangerous those harmless looking figures can get.”
Adolph Keane, a 29-year-old businessman from Kanye, who is always on the move, says he doesn’t particularly think about death because of his busy state.
“To me death is an everyday thing, I try not to think about it for I embrace everything as it comes. If I am to die today then so be it.”
Keane claims that the one time that he was really touched by death was when his fianc├®e of 2 years died.
The most painful part for him was the funeral.
Batswana have this custom of singing extremely sad songs at funerals, the one that hit him hard was “Joko ya hao”.
He said that this was where it finally dawned on him that he would never see her agin, especially during the part where the coffin was covered with mud.
“You asked me if I am afraid of dying, not really, no!”
Calvin Dintle a 25-year-old Botswana student based in Monarch says he lives for racing cars.
Every weekend he and a group of friends gather at a specific location and race against each other with their parents’s fancy cars.
He recently lost two of his friends after they lost control of their speeding vehicle due to intoxication.
Although it’s been rough on him, Dintle says he will keep racing, if anything for the memory of his friends.
“Their death shall not be in vain. What? Why should I be scared of death? Whether I am scared or not, when my time comes I will die, that is a fact.
I can’t hide in the closet or in a church, can’t even hide in a slowly moving car.
Look at Aaliyah; she was shooting a music video before she died.”
Based on the conclusions reached from the research findings, death is a mystery; it’s unplanned and it does not discriminate.
Even though this is so, that is not to say people should be reckless with how they live their lives because they risk destroying the lives of those who embrace the beauty of living.
The findings also indicate that some Batswana embrace death as part of their everyday surroundings that man has no power over.
This might be a disadvantage to the vast religions around the country because they are built around what happens to people who don’t live accordingly when they die. People no longer care.