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One hour funeral service…No uncles, no neighbours!

A funeral service at rural Lesotho

Nov. 13, 2019 4 min read

I was privileged to attend a funeral service for an individual who was a member of the Jehovah’s Witness movement and since this was the first time I was part of a service led by this group I went there with an open mind to observe and learn.

I was in the company of a friend at this service and I thought we would leave home around 10AM in order to be there around 10:30AM even though the official time for starting was communicated as 10AM.

Experience has taught me that it is usually 10AM for 10:30AM. This time around my friend insisted we leave at 8:30AM as the funeral would be starting at 9AM - and it was going to be a one hour long service.

I didn’t take her up on her word, the only reason I was ready at the proposed time was that I was getting a lift from my friend. Otherwise I would have left home after 9AM aiming for the usual African time.

But not so with Jehovah Witnesses’ service. We arrived at around 9:15AM and the service was already in progress. I assume ‘mooki’ had already spoken to give an account on the cause of death.

When we arrived the obituary was already being read and I assumed the person reading it was a family representative or the Master of the Ceremony and would call on to the next speaker. Little did I know that the well-dressed gentleman was the only one honoured to speak in this funeral.

He led the service by referencing various scriptures in the Bible on the origin of sin, on why people die and on God’s promises about resurrection. His approach was very calming and it made me listen with interest as he interpreted scripture after scripture.

Two Likes for the service: Starting on time, being on point about life and death. I was not sure if I could click on the fact that only one person was speaking. What about the others who knew the deceased, why are we not celebrating the life of the deceased person?

While I was pondering this question, the well-dressed gentleman referenced a relevant scripture about celebrating life as if he read my mind. I was humbled when he read Ecclesiastes 9: v.10, which reminds us that human beings have an opportunity to do everything and celebrate life while they are still alive.

This is when I realised that indeed there is no point talking about the excellent deeds that a deceased did, while we failed to share these inspiring achievements while he was alive.

I clicked a third Like on the service for the simple reason that they were not repeating the same messages that 5 preceding speakers have already said and to be repeated again by the next 5 speakers. 

Then from his point of teaching, funeral was an opportunity to talk to the people who are still alive, to guide them to reflect on life and death and what atonements they need to make to put their house in order before departing planet Earth or before returning to Mother Nature as some would put it. This one is common across other funerals I have attended before, to remind the people that they shall return to Mother Earth.

I don’t click. But still I like the manner in which he approached the subject.

Towards the end of the service, he referenced other scriptures to encourage the friends and family on why it is important to continue supporting the family.

Another Like from me, for we often focus on the deceased and don’t give much attention on how we can support the loved ones unless you they are somehow related to us by blood.

The members of the church were using their smart phones as reference when reading their Bibles. Talk about technology, impressive hey! This was not a big deal for me, for this is the standard in most churches nowadays.  Then I remembered a conversation I had a few months ago with my aunt, when I saw her old torn Bible. I asked her if she could download a soft copy on her smart phone.

She said, “in our church we are not allowed to read the Bible from the phone, because we have to bring our Bibles to the Priest to bless it before we can use it”. Then I was wondering, why can’t the Priest bless the phone instead? At the very end of the service, the members of the church were asked to sing one hymn only, and they used their smart phones as reference.


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The fifth Like from me about this service, at least the church as embraced technology, Bible and Hymns are accessed electronically. Those who prefer hard copies are still allowed to hold their heavy hard copies.

Then it was time to wind down, we were told that we will depart to the graveyard. There won’t be any singing; this is time for us to reflect about death as individuals. The service had taken about an hour. The sixth like from me about this service. The service at the grave yard was equally short. Then we came back to the family home, where warm and delicious meal was served. Then we said our good byes and went back home to rest or do other activities for the weekend. I got home around 11:30AM.

A final and big Like from me. 

Recap of my Likes: Time management, the service started and ended on time; relevant and targeted message on life and death; aligning with times in terms of using technology; targeted talks, not repeating the same speech from what other speakers have already said. Hat off to the well-dressed gentleman, the message of his service is still very fresh in my mind about celebrating life while we are still alive.

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