City of Harare is developing a new cemetery at Eyerstone Residential Estate measuring 150 hectares. This new grave site, along Seke Road on the way to Chitungwiza, follows the decommissioning of Warren Hills cemetery earlier this year.
The cemetery will be ready for burials before the end of the year. Council is currently also in the process of looking for alternative sites in order to also decommission Granville (Mbudzi) and Mabvuku cemeteries which are almost full.
Underground burial is the traditional practice in the country, but it is worthwhile to note that burial space is fast running out. It is clearly high time that residents and authorities start to consider other burial methods such as cremation which is already available in the city.
The City’s Acting Corporate Communications Manager Michael Chideme told Harare News that council has for a while now been encouraging cremation. Unfortunately these efforts have been unsuccessful because of long-held cultural practices.
“We encourage cremation, but we have realised that burial is a cultural norm by a large section of residents in Harare and we have to respect that. Nonetheless, we try as much as possible to let others appreciate that culture [of cremation] so that if anyone wants to be cremated they can,” said Chideme.
One social commentator who refused to be named for professional reasons explained that cultural and religious beliefs were the determining factors in the disposal of loved ones.
“Most Zimbabweans prefer ground burial while other cultures appreciate cremation. However, the reality is that with the way land is fast running out, graves might end up being more expensive which will obviously force people to look at the other body disposal methods that are available,” he explained.
Board Chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Simbarashe Moyo noted that there was need for the adoption of new burial methods since the practice of using graves is now leading to competition for land between the dead and the living.
“Traditionally we are used to burying our departed loved ones underground, but we really need to explore other methods. It is sad to note that contest for space between the dead and living has already started at Granville Cemetery where some people have built houses beside graves,” noted Moyo.
“There should also be sober planning on the part of council because the newly allocated gravesite will soon run out. They (council) should come up with methods such as incentivising those who will be adopting other burial methods such as cremation. Incentivising will make more people take cremation as an option,” added Moyo.
Image: Warren Hills Cemetery