Traditions of African-American Funerals and Burials — Past and Present Day


African Americans in the south have always had traditional ways of handling funeral ceremonies and burials of loved ones. African Americans mark the final resting place of love ones in a unique way. In African religion, death is the last transitional stage of life and it requires passage rites, it was  believed this took a long time to be completed. The deceased had to  be “detached” from the living in order to  make a smooth transition to the next life. It was and still is common to use floral arrangements at funerals and at burial sites. During earlier burial years, personal property of the deceased was often placed on top of the grave. Some of the items often put on the graves were small emblems, toothbrush, cup, clock, toy, and many other items. A traveler who once visited Gabon observed that on the graves of the rich mourners often left life-pieces of cookery, knives, and even sometimes a table.

Putting items on a grave was more than an emotional gesture. It was believed by the Africans that the spirit needed these items to keep from wandering. Some graves in the United States south are also decorated with items such as white ocean shells and pebbles which represent the ocean, lake, or river. In South Carolina, nearly 40 percent of all slaves imported between 1700s and 1800s were from the Kongo-speaking region; their world of the dead is known to be underground but under water. In the Kongo-speaking regions white was a symbol of death not . During , African-Americans were not intruded upon by slave owners when burying their loved ones. It was the one time slave owners respected the African way of sending a loved one home. Even though many Africans converted to the Christian way, they held on to their burial beliefs. Christians normally do not believe that  items are needed to be left on the grave for a peaceful transition.

Other traditions from Africa do not allow children and unmarried adults to attend a funeral. During the burial the immediate family of the deceased is expected to remain together on one side of the grave  in a specific location; they were also forbidden from speaking or taking any vocal part at the funeral. After the funeral people would normally be invited to the  home of the decease for the funeral meal; this tradition is sometime used in the southern states of the U.S today. Many people follow a cleansing ritual at the gate of the house, where everyone must wash off the dust of the graveyard before entering the house. Sometimes pieces of cut aloe would be placed in the water; it was believed that the water removed bad luck. Churches that use “holy water” sprinkled people to cleanse them from impurity during this time. In southern Africa, the period of strict mourning usually continues for at least a week after the funeral. During this time, the bereaved stay at home, and did not socialize, or have sexual relations.

Also, when an African person died at home, some people believed the body had to be removed through a hole in the wall instead of through the door. The reason was to make it difficult for the dead person to remember their way back to the living, and the hole would be immediately closed. The body would often be removed by the feet first pointing away from the former place where they lived. But, there were also Africans who wanted to make it easy for their dead loved one to find their way home, so they buried them close by.




  • Lyndia Black October 19, 2018 - 12:15 pm

    Very interesting.

  • gamefly May 4, 2019 - 6:03 pm

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for gamefly

  • gamefly free trial May 5, 2019 - 10:54 pm

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate
    a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  • how to download minecraft May 7, 2019 - 9:07 pm

    I like what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve included you guys to
    our blogroll.

  • how to download minecraft May 9, 2019 - 1:12 am

    Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers
    and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a
    marvellous job!

  • g May 12, 2019 - 12:51 am

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering
    if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet
    my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would
    have some experience with something like this. Please
    let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your
    blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  • minecraft download pc May 15, 2019 - 3:53 am

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
    Very helpful information particularly the last part :
    ) I care for such information much. I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 25, 2019 - 4:22 am

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no backup.
    Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

  • gamefly free trial May 29, 2019 - 8:37 am

    I have been browsing on-line greater than three hours as
    of late, but I never discovered any interesting
    article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all
    site owners and bloggers made just right content material as you
    probably did, the web might be much more useful than ever before.

  • gamefly free trial June 4, 2019 - 6:00 am

    Appreciate the recommendation. Let me try it out.

  • gamefly free trial 2019 coupon June 10, 2019 - 10:26 am

    I am not sure the place you’re getting your info,
    but great topic. I must spend a while studying more or figuring
    out more. Thank you for excellent info I used to be on the lookout for this
    information for my mission.

  • Lesroyaps June 11, 2019 - 10:31 pm

    Viagra Test cialis Buy Doxycycline Online Fast Delivery Cytotec En Pharmacie

  • quest bars June 16, 2019 - 10:36 am

    After exploring a number of the articles on your site, I honestly appreciate your way of blogging.
    I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my
    web site as well and let me know what you think.