My childhood memories of death and funerals are one long stretch of fear. Each time someone died in the village, we children would be hard put to it by fear. The belief in the village back then was that people who died became evil ‘muo’ which kept wandering about the neighbourhood with the intent of harming any who would see them. And the village folk were never short of spine chilling tales of this or that person who encountered a dead relative and became unconscious. There were even stories of first sons whose dead fathers had slapped them for participating in something during another’s funeral rites that they had denied them or failed to perform during theirs.
It was not just the issue of seeing these dead people that instilled such unnerving fear in us but the supposed manner of their appearance, how they were supposed to look as ‘muo’. Some were said to have more than one head, others would have iroko high legs that raised their massive heads with the single forehead-located eye into the clouds. Long nails that appeared gnawed at would replace the fingers that they had before their transition and the being would be enveloped in a bluish mist.
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