The demise of a family member, young or old, is usually greeted with sorrow. Even though Ondo people believe that death is a necessary end and that it will come when it will come, they do not like losing any member of their family. This goes a long way to show the kinship affinity. It is believed that no matter how old a relation is; he or she has an important role to play in one’s life. Hence death, though a natural phenomenon, Ondo people find it difficult to accept its reality.
When a person dies in Ondo, particularly a young person, such death is received with suspicion. The first reaction would be a suspicious cry of A an ma po o o o! i.e. they have killed him or her. The relatives would like to find out if in fact, the deceased did indeed die a natural death. They would go to Ifa diviner to find out the cause of the death.
It is pertinent to note here that when a young person dies, he or she is buried without any delay. Moreover, when an elderly person dies, the death is announced to all and sundry by dancing round the town. This is called iyaghayogho in Ondo language. The eldest son of the deceased brings a goat, which is slaughtered at the place where the corpse is given the last bath. This is called ibugwe. The corpse is thereafter dressed and laid- in-state. Later the corpse is put in an expensive coffin and taken to the final resting-place, usually in a room in the house.
Burial ceremony is an expensive event in Ondo culture. The expenses become more outrageous particularly when the deceased is a Chief. The news will have to be broken to the Oba with some gifts after which there would be dancing round the town for nine days, performing rituals. The maternal relations of the deceased are responsible for the provision of the coffin. The husbands of the daughters of the deceased take charge of the digging of the grave while the eldest daughter brings a goat and thirty wraps of pounded yam, N20.00 and a keg of palm wine usually undiluted with water. Each of the husbands of all the married daughters of the deceased bring twenty wraps of pounded yam and a keg of undiluted palm wine each.
The male members of the deceased’s family group themselves and each group buys a goat and sanyan (a type of woven material) or about ten yards of cloth for dressing the deceased. On the third and seventh day after burial, the family members make supplications for the deceased. There is usually eating and merry making. Traditionally, bean cakes (akara) are served around the neighbourhood. On the last day of celebration, that is the eighth day, the family members dance round the town and subsequently converge at home to continue with the feasting. On the morning of the ninth day, there is a family meeting during which the inventory of all the deceased’s property is taken. This is shared at a convenient date among all members of the family.
The widow(s) of the deceased usually keep vigil throughout the night of the seventh day amidst singing and drumming. In the middle of the night, the widows go through a series of rituals, an important one of which includes bathing. It is believed that these rituals will protect them from the spirit of their husband who hovers around them. The widows dress in white and will remain indoors for three months or nine months in the case of High Chief.
Source From: Ondo Development Committee Achieve.