By Dickson Jere
An official or state funeral in Zambia always culminates into national mourning depending the rank or former rank of the deceased. The “National Mourning” entails that the entire country must “mourn” and programs of entertainment nature are banned for that period (06:00 hours to 18:00 hours).
Days of mourning vary from official to official. For example, a former minister is entitled to one-day of national mourning while a serving minister is three-days. Former President is given five-days and so is the serving Vice President. Flags must fly at half mast while radio and television stations are expected to play solemn music during the said period.
You see, on Saturday I was due to take part in a golf event that was all planned weeks earlier. It had to be postponed on account of the national mourning that was due on Saturday. In the afternoon, I was later to officiate at a fundraising music event in Matero. It was also postponed to Sunday due to national mourning. Unfortunately, government announced changes to the funeral arrangements and adjusted the mourning period to Sunday. This meant that the organizers of the event lost money for two-days due to this change. Weekends naturally are for entertainment events. I shudder to think of other businesses around the country that incurred loses as a result of the national mourning and subsequent changes that took place over the weekend. (Rev.Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwashya funeral).
Talk about the radio and television industry. These people have to adjust their programming and remove entertainment segments during the mourning period. Some of these segments are paid for by their sponsors! These are lose that cannot be atoned in damages by government.
I think we must relook at this policy.
In other countries, national mourning is only restricted to flying the flags at half mast and the provision of military funeral service to the deceased. Gun salutes and all! The nation and commerce in general remains functional while those mourning do so solemnly.
Imagine – and this is possible – you have four former ministers dying in same week and buried on four different days? It will mean the country will “shut down” for four days just to mourn each and every former minister. I think we need to change this aspect and allow programs to run as scheduled. Culture is dynamic and we need to move with time.
When I was young, we were told to standstill on the roadside when a hearse is passing and we did just that! Can that work now? No, things have changed and we several hearses passing and we even overtake them contrary to our earlier cultural values.
We need a rethink of the policy that shuts down entertainment during national mourning especially on weekends.
Just imagine Stanbic Bank inviting Jay Z for the music concert on a scheduled date and then you cancel because of national mourning….you will still pay him his dues even if he has not performed! These are the realities of modern commerce.