By A Correspondent- Ten years ago, Moses Qathe Moyo from Hlababomvu Village under Chief Bidi in Kezi, Matabeleland South province left many people shell-shocked when he dug his own grave — and his lone wish to be laid to rest at a place of his own choice was unanimously granted when his family buried him in it on Thursday this week.
For Moyo, who died on Sunday aged 60 and after a long illness, the act of digging his own grave in advance seemed a logical thing to do as he preferred his own form of final disposal.
The grave was covered with a heavy cement slab that reportedly took about 12 “muscular” men to remove it during his burial.
Moyo whose strange desire created a total nightmare to everyone who followed the story reportedly suffered a stroke twice after digging the grave.
A relative who declined to be named claiming they were not authorised to speak on behalf of the family said when the story first emerged in 2010 Moyo explained his reason for digging his grave in advance.
“Moses dug his own grave sometime in 2010 claiming that he had received a vision from God instructing him to do so. Death seemed not to worry him as he said it was already done for him so he wanted everything ready for his burial. He also said when he died, he didn’t want people grappling with a myriad of choices in the midst of sadness. So when he dug his own grave he argued that he was eliminating such pressure usually experienced when burying a loved one,” said the relative. He added that before he breathed his last, Moyo reminded them that burying him in his own grave was one big thing that they would have to do without fail.
He also reportedly wanted to dig another one for his wife but she vehemently refused.
The relative adds: “Before he dug it, he threw a lavish party and a beast was slaughtered. As a family we celebrated although other villagers thought it was uncharacteristic of Moses to do something like that.
“On the day of the burial the only work which was left was just a matter of removing the few inches of soil on top and taking the cement slab off and later putting it back.”
Moyo was reportedly spending a good part of his time looking after his grave.
“As a family we needed a little convincing when he first told us of his plan to dig his own grave. He defended his actions saying digging his own grave was akin to one writing a will or having a funeral policy,” added the relative.
One traditional leader from the area said: “It was indeed strange. At a time when people want to live more and instantly consult traditional healers, prophets and even flying out of the country to seek better treatment so as to extend their lives a little bit, digging your grave is out of the ordinary.”
Meanwhile, in African culture it is taboo for a person to dig his own grave while they are still alive.
Renowned traditionalist and culturalist Richard Ndebele said it was uncultural for one to dig his or her own grave.
“It is totally against our culture. If one does that, he or she would be unknowingly courting death in the family. There is danger that someone who falls sick in the family would die because the spirit of death would be hovering over the family as that grave would need to be filled. That may also cause the ancestors to turn against the family,” he said.
He added: “What I know is that in our culture at times an elderly person identifies a site where he prefers to be laid to rest.”
Deputy President of the Chief’s Council Chief Mtshane Khumalo buttressed Ndebele’s opinion saying: “I have never heard of that. What I know is that if an elderly person identifies the grave site where he or she prefers to be buried, the family has to respect that.”
Meanwhile, Chief Bidi whose jurisdiction, Moyo’s area falls under believes there is nothing wrong with one “booking” his or her own grave while waiting for death.
“I don’t think there is any problem with that and if it was his wish it’s okay. I cannot comment further because I have insufficient information regarding that subject,” he said.-statemedia