Preparations for Madiba’s farewell!

Johannesburg – South Africa struggled on Monday to meet the unprecedented logistical challenge of hosting close to 100 world leaders flying in from every corner of the globe for the memorial service of freedom icon Nelson Mandela.

Mandela died at his Houghton home in Johannesburg last Thursday, aged 95.

“The world literally is coming to South Africa,” said the government’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela.

“I don’t think it has ever happened before,” Monyela said of the wave of 91 leaders, including US President Barack Obama, bearing down on the country.

Many will join the 80 000 people expected to cram into the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday to take part in a grand memorial service for their inspirational first black president.

Reflecting the depth and breadth of Mandela’s popularity, the event will see political foes Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro share the same stage in paying tribute to one of the towering political figures of the 20th century.

President Jacob Zuma will make the keynote address, and other speakers will include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Four of Mandela’s adored grandchildren will speak for his family, while neither his widow, Graça Machel, nor his ex-wife Winne Madikizela-Mandela are listed on the programme.

The memorial service, in the venue where Mandela made his last major public appearance for the 2010 World Cup final, is seen as a final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in a mass celebration of his life ahead of the more formal state funeral.

About 120 000 people will be able to watch the event on giant screens set up in three overflow stadiums in Johannesburg.

‘You are never prepared enough’

Although Mandela had been critically ill for months, the announcement of his death on Thursday night still rocked a country that had looked to his unassailable moral authority as a comforting constant in a time of uncertain social and economic change.

“I don’t think you are ever prepared enough,” said Zelda la Grange, who was Mandela’s long-time personal assistant both during and after his presidency.

“We had prepared ourselves emotionally, but still we are overcome by this feeling of loss and sadness,” La Grange said.

A single candle was lit in Mandela’s tiny prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent the harshest of his 27 years in apartheid jails.

The week-long observances will culminate on Sunday when Mandela will be buried at a family plot in his boyhood home of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

The government has sought to dissuade A-list dignitaries from attending, citing Qunu’s rural location, the lack of amenities and limited space.

Ahead of the burial, Mandela’s body will lie in state for three days from Wednesday in the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as president in 1994.

Each morning, his coffin will be borne through the streets of the capital in a funeral cortege, to give as many people as possible the chance to pay their final respects.

11 000 troops mobilised

About 11 000 troops have been mobilised to ensure security and help with crowd control.

Despite the sudden influx of international dignitaries and the compressed preparation time, police spokesperson Solomon Makgale insisted that the security apparatus could cope.

“Having so many heads of state is not a security headache for us. We’ve learned over the years,” Makgale said, adding that they would be “working closely” with the foreign leaders’ own security details.

As well as Obama and three previous occupants of the White House, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Afghan President Hamid Karzai were all on the guest list.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was among the first to arrive, visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg where he paid handsome tribute to a “giant for justice” whose “mighty life” touched millions.

Parliament met in special session on Monday, with MPs carrying single red roses as they entered the assembly building that was flanked by giant portraits of Mandela in tribal dress and as an elder statesman.

Opposition leader Helen Zille said every politician had a duty to carry forward Mandela’s ideals of justice and equality for all.

“He has handed the baton to us and we dare not drop it,” Zille said.

Africa will be represented at the funeral by Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and more than a dozen other heads of state and government.

Notable absentees include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cited high travel and security costs, and Mandela’s fellow Nobel peace laureate, the Dalai Lama, who since 2009 has twice been denied a visa for South Africa.

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and singer-activist Bono, as well as British billionaire Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel were expected to be among the celebrity mourners.

Madiba! Making peace even in death.

As world leaders bury hatchets for the day and unite in paying respects to Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader may have a chance to promote peace, in death as he did in life.

Funerals of the great and the good, demanding attendance at short notice by busy and powerful leaders who rarely meet, have long been occasions for quiet diplomacy and Tuesday may be no exception – though not everyone will want to shake hands.

“It does cut through their scheduling so they can do things off the cuff,” said David Owen, who as British foreign secretary in the 1970s saw several historic figures interred. “Everybody is putting in bids,” he said of negotiations among diplomats for meetings on the sidelines of such global events.

US President Barack Obama may top many wish lists for a brief chat in Johannesburg, though it is unclear whom he will meet. Cuba’s Raul Castro, at daggers drawn with Washington for over half a century, will be there.

But the initially announced attendance of Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani is in doubt – leaving a dramatic moment of US-Iran rapprochement unlikely.

If Obama is in demand, others are more used to cold shoulders – notably President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for whom such events offer a respite from international sanctions.

Aides to Prince Charles, representing Queen Elizabeth, will be determined to avoid a repeat of the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005, when the heir to the British throne had to blame “surprise” after he shook Mugabe’s hand at the service.

“There are all these people who want their photograph taken with somebody who doesn’t particularly want their photograph taken with them,” Owen said, recalling how, at the 1978 funeral of Kenyan independence leader Jomo Kenyatta, he physically prevented Uganda’s Idi Amin from shaking hands with the prince.

“He did try. And I did intercept it,” Owen told Reuters, saying British officials had been in an “absolute panic” about the Ugandan dictator seizing an unwelcome photo opportunities.

Even before the event, questions of attendance have been subject to anxious diplomatic calculus – to go, or not to go?

Obama, like Mandela the first black president of his country, leads a substantial delegation reflecting high regard for Mandela in the United States. But some online commentators have used that to renew criticism of his failure to attend the funeral of former British premier Margaret Thatcher in April.

When Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak visited Israel to mourn Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, some Israelis grumbled that peace would have been better served by him coming before Rabin was assassinated.

Jimmy Carter, among three former US presidents travelling with Obama to Mandela’s memorial, was accused by critics of undermining US influence in the Balkans after he sent his mother to represent him at the 1980 funeral of Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito – a move Carter took to avoid meeting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who had just invaded Afghanistan.

When Brezhnev himself died two years later, it ushered in an extraordinary series of three Soviet state funerals in Red Square in as many years. Ronald Reagan, as US president, was moved to complain, according to biographers: “How am I supposed to get anyplace with the Russians if they keep dying on me?”

Those funerals, at the depth of the Cold War, offered vital clues to the new men following on, notably a first meeting in 1985 between Reagan’s vice president, George Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev as the younger Russian prepared historic reforms.

But it was at the previous Kremlin funeral, of Yuri Andropov in 1984, that the diplomatic power of the mourner’s handshake was perhaps most memorably seen in public.

While David Owen, a physician by training, was offering his condolences to Andropov’s newly named successor, Konstantin Chernenko, he detected a wheeziness in the Soviet leader’s chest. He mentioned to a journalist Chernenko had emphysema – a potentially fatal lung condition common in cigarette smokers.

“It went round the world faster than I could believe,” Owen recalled. “The diagnosis was correct – and it was a slight warning, I suppose, to people that he wasn’t going to last that long.” Gorbachev oversaw Chernenko’s funeral 13 months later.

First Lady with a difference!

Speaking above a Whisper by Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Amandla Consulting, Ibadan 2013.
First Ladies in Nigeria are almost always nobodies until their husbands become landlords in state houses. And once in government as the unofficial second-in-command, they become the most fawned-over women. Some go so far as to be addressed as “Her Excellency”, complete with office and staff to match that unmerited title. Except for a few, rarely are they heard of or known for any outstanding accomplishment or worthy cause prior to becoming the first female citizen of their respective states. But Mrs. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, wife of Ekiti State governor, is a First Lady with a difference.
Her life pre-government house in Ado Ekiti is the subject of a recent publication, Speaking above a Whisper, and written by none other than Bisi herself. The title was unconsciously provided by a “sister” in mourning. The bereaved told Bisi who had gone to comfort her that her deceased aunt was such a nice person she never spoke above a whisper. Bisi appropriated it for a yet-to-be-written book. Now published to mark her 50th birthday, Speaking above a Whisper is the author’s way of giving voice to the voiceless, particularly women in difficult situations. Besides, the title is just as fitting as a set of lovely pearls on a classical neck.
Books like hers are usually ghost-written for people in her position. She politely declined two offers to write her biography because, in her words, “I never could have allowed anyone to tell my story for me. I wanted to write my story.”
It is a story well told, starting from her birth in Liverpool, through nursery education in England to primary, secondary and university education in Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. Life as a young adult in Lagos and Aba in Abia State where she served as a youth corps member are not glossed over. What readers will find most fascinating however is her work as a woman activist, which started in earnest in England but whose seeds were sown in Nigeria.
Bisi was young in Lagos and was privy to the constant abuses some of her female relations were subjected to. They were dehumanising, psychologically and physically. To young Bisi, it was pitiable. She was appalled and infuriated but it was an impotent rage. She also witnessed variants of it as a youth corps member in Aba where she taught in a girl’s school. Lecherous teachers serially took advantage of hapless female students angling for better grades. One of the teachers was pluckier than the rest. He formed a habit of deliberately jugging female teacher’s breast and palming their behinds. One day, he made passes at Bisi. She tried to parry him but ended up hitting him in the face. The teacher stopped his amorous advances altogether from that day.
Bisi was simply unstoppable once she started her activism. From her early career as a volunteer activist to female inmates of African origin in UK jails, she showed an uncommon commitment that you find in those with genuine concern for women. Her capacity to source funds or mobilise women for a particular cause was simply astonishing. She met with world leaders and prominent feminists in her campaign to empower women in Africa.
There was Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, Liberian president, Mrs. Graca Machel, wife of Dr. Nelson Mandela and Mrs. Joyce Banda of Malawi. (The accompanying photographs compliment the autobiography). There were other women activists, too, whom Bisi’s relationship with has lasted to this day:  Hilda Tadria and Joana Forster, co-founders of African Women Development Fund; diva Miatta Fahnbulleh and Ms Joyce Mends-Cole. There was Dr. Patricia McFadden whom she calls a mentor but later fell out with over a project, African Feminist Congress, the latter scuttled.
But such was Bisi’s devotion to women issues that there was hardly any feminist organisation or non-governmental organisation concerning African women she did not actively participate in or was not involved in its founding. There was Akina Mama waAfrica (AMwA), African Women’s Development Fund AWDF), and African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI). There were also her mentors and colleagues, from foremost feminists like Abena Busia to Jerusha Arothe-Vaughan, Jane Goldsmith and Micheline Ravololonarisoa. There was also Olga Heaven of African Prisoners Scheme and Women in Prison, not to mention rewarding meetings with Ford Foundation and similar organisations around the world.
Bisi was born on June 11, 1963, a day her father, Engineer Emmanuel Akinola Adeleye, was to be interviewed for a job but opted to stay with his wife, Emily Olufunke, in hospital. Bisi’s naïve infancy and rebellious adolescence are laid bare for readers, as her eagerness to learn by constantly pestering her father with questions. She was one of two black students in nursery school in Liverpool, and so was the subject of frequent racist taunts by other white students.
The bullying continued at Abeokuta Girls Grammar School where Bisi began her secondary education at 10. University was a lot more fun where she was simultaneously a Kegite and member of an elite social club. She found more time to gyrate with fellow Kegites than the snobbish and class-conscious club.  She was financial secretary to two or three chiefs of Kegites Club and adviser to several more. The impression you get is of somebody who is proud to have been a member of a fraternity others would hastily put down. For Bisi, it was “the place where I learnt all my leadership qualities,” qualities that would come handy when she began as a woman activist.
As she recounts, Bisi had been to more than 60 countries of the world in nearly all the continents in pursuit of women matter, how to better their lot, how to empower them and give them equal status as men. For instance, she actively participated in the groundbreaking Beijing Plus meeting for women in 1995. When the subject of her husband, Kayode Fayemi, becoming a governorship candidate for Alliance for Democracy in Ekiti State was bruited to her in 2005 shortly after his 40th birthday, Bisi objected initially. But she personally nominated a woman, the late Mrs. Funmilayo Adunni Olayinka, to be his running mate.
The former-banker-turned-politician had an enduring relationship with Bisi, whom she called Ochiorah, till she died after battling cancer in Europe and Nigeria. Bisi in turn called her the Moremi of Ekiti. In one of the most moving sections of the book, Bisi tells graphically the ordeal her friend and erstwhile deputy governor endured during her illness. It was shared suffering for both women, thus evoking what D.H. Lawrence calls “the unaccountable flows and ebbs of sympathy that exist between people.”
The author and her husband, fondly called JK by her, were two soul mates whose paths crossed in university, in the library. JK’s comportment and gap-toothed smile bowled her over and courtship followed. They later re-united and married in England. Both suffered deprivation at some point. For instance, they lacked proper accommodation for a newly-wed. Bisi worked two shifts to make ends meet. JK drove a cab and was mugged once. The muggers made off with his watch, wedding ring and a sum of 20 pounds – his earning for the day.
To compound it all, a child was long in coming, partly deliberately because of work. Friends and relations misunderstood their childlessness and began to worry needlessly on their behalf. By the time a son came, he arrived on Tuesday, October 29, 1994 a day voting rights was granted to all South Africans irrespective of race – little wonder Folajimi’s second name Amandla. Overjoyed to no end, Bisi has written that “all the years of waiting, of dashed hope and agonizing faded away when I gazed at his beautiful face.”
Another source of early apprehension for the author was the 2009 governorship election which JK contested. Robbed and denied and upheld by courts and tribunals, victory came finally in 2011 when Segun Oni, candidate of PDP, was removed for electoral fraud. For their roles in the election saga, Professor Maurice Iwu, chairman of INEC, gets rapped while his successor, Professor Attahiru Jega, comes off well.
Speaking above a Whisper is a first for a First Lady. It is commendable. But the shortcoming of writing one’s story is all too glaring. First, her account of events might be written to suit herself. After all, hers is the only voice we hear. A biographer would not only have interviewed her but subjected her recollections to veracity by confirming with others mentioned in the book. This is not so, so readers are left with accounts as told by the author.
There are avoidable errors, too, which any gimlet-eyed editor would certainly not have overlooked. There is no English word like “corper”. It is a Nigerian coinage. Chest-thumping in the prologue that “I have always had a very good memory, and have always had the power of recollection” sounds rather immodest. Innate or acquired qualities are better left for others to say.
Even so, Speaking above a Whisper sets the author apart from the common perception of First ladies around here: a previously unknown underachiever now made famous as a prominent appendage of a successful politician or military appointee.

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)

Chevron releases N800m for community projects

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR),  Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) said about N800 million has been released to the Ilaje Regional Development Council (IRDC) since inception for the implementation of both infrastructure and non infrastructure projects areas of its operation.
The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA) of the company, Mr Deji Haastrup, disclosed this in his remark at the annual general meeting of the IRDC held at Owena Motel, Akure, Ondo State.
Haastrup, who was represented by the PGPA Superintendent, Mr Trust Inimgba,  expressed delight that the council had managed the process successfully through participatory partnership to achieve measured success in most of its cardinal objectives.
According to him, the IRDC had expended the N800 million disbursed to it for implementation of projects most of which he said had been completed and commissioned.
The projects, Haastrup said, include the provision of science laboratory, multipurpose halls, concrete and wooden foot bridges, housing projects, town halls, micro-credit scheme, scholarship awards and provision of public toilets.
Other projects executed by the council are provision of skill acquisition schemes, donation of books to secondary schools and quarterly medical programme for aged persons and pregnant women.
The manager expressed delight that the Reverse Osmosis project of the IRDC is also on-going while the leadership of the IRDC very recently inaugurated  15 wooden foot bridges in various communities in addition to the purchase of two speed boats for transportation.
He said the new leadership had also earmarked other projects and programs for implementation including vocational training for 100 youths including women, furnishing of two town halls at Awoye and Molutehin, among others.
Haastrup said Chevron/NNPC Joint Venture would frowned significantly at a situation that would lead to breach of due process in the implementation of GMoU and would leave no stone unturned to prevent such from happenings.
The manager said Chevron was happy with the partnership with the state government in facilitating other social investment programmes in the state.
The programmes he said include the Roll Back Malaria programmees with the donation of malaria drugs and long lasting insecticides treated nets, deworming of thousands of primary school children from different communities around the state.
He added that the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venturealso continues to deploy its NYSC Science Teachers programme at Molotehin Comprehensive College and Igbokoda Grammar School which has helped in improving the teaching and learning of science subjects.
Haastrup said the corps members participating in  the scheme are paid stipends monthly by the company. Just as the company had handed over to the state government a chest clinic donated to the State Specialist Hospital Akure and a science laboratory donated to Igbokoda Grammar School.

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)

My breast cancer concert is to give back to Nigeria- Adeniji Heavywind

This evening, international award-winning songwriter, producer and multiple instrumentalist, Adeniji Heavywind and friends will be performing live at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos. The show which kicks off at 7pm is designed to raise funds for people living with cancer and sensitize the public. Adeniji spoke to LANRE ODUKOYA about his career, project and enterprise

Why has it taken you this long to return to Nigeria?
Well, I started my musical career a long time ago here in Nigeria about 35 years ago. I started by playing in bands here and there and then in church. I got elevated to creating my own sounds 25 years ago. So, I had to travel to produce with more experienced artistes so that I could learn the trade from some of the best minds, which I have done.
It is argued that Nigerians in music in the United States seldom excel. Did this development also make you return?
No, I think it depends on the artiste and the agents that you use. I know artistes here in Nigeria that things have not been going on well for. It also depends on your contacts and we’ve been very fortunate.
What was your early influence in music?
It was traditional jazz. I listened to a lot of Grover Washington’s songs while growing up. George Benson is another great singer I used to listen too. Back home, I listened to Victor Olaiya, Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Fela and so on. So, it’s a mixture of all kinds of sounds.
How ready are you to take on the challenges in the industry here in Nigeria?
I cannot take on the challenges alone and that’s why I have a good team. And I trust them enough. My manager is Toyin Adekoya.
Are there other enterprises you own to support your musical career?
We have Heavywind Studios which we just established here in Ilupeju-Lagos. So, we have different clients making use of our facilities now.  That’s one business on the side and we intend to produce other young artistes in the industry. There are lots of things Heavywind Studios will be doing in a couple of months.
Your fundraiser concert for Breast Cancer awareness is this evening.  What spurred the interest?
We’ve done this for Sickle Cell a couple of years ago and we feel we should just extend the tentacle to another area of need. That was how we traveled to Ibadan to meet the Nigerian president of the Breast Cancer Awareness Association. She told us things she needed and we started developing means to intervene. We feel we must always give back to our society and this is our token.

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)

NDLEA arrest 72 suspects in Akwa Ibom

The Akwa Ibom command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it arrested 72 offenders for drug related offences within the third quarter of 2013 in the state.
A breakdown of the figure showed that 60 of the suspects are men, while 12 are women.
This is contained in the command’s third quarter performance report signed by its press officer, Mr Akintayo Toyin, and made available to newsmen in Uyo on Thursday.
The command stated that it had seized 136 kg of cannabis sativa, 16.7 grammes of cocaine, 54.6 grammes of heroin, 24 litres of combine, four sachets (480mg) of tramadol and one tablet diaze-pharm (psychotropic substance).
The agency stated that within the same period, an unrepentant drug baron (named withheld) was also arrested on Sept. 13.
It said the baron was arrested with some whitish and brownish substances suspected to be cocaine and heroin weighing 13.1 and 53.6 grammes respectively.
The report stated that upon transfer to the agency’s head office at Nwaniba road in Uyo, one of the suspects confessed that the baron owned the drugs.
It said investigation had been concluded and that the suspects would be charged to court.
The agency recalled that the baron and her sister were previously arrested with hard drugs and arraigned at an Uyo High Court on July 27, 2007.

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)

US Announces New Procedure for Visa Renewal

The United States Consulate General in Lagos has announced a procedure for visa renewal in Nigeria as contained in its DHL Drop Box Visa Renewal Programme.
According to a statement made available to sources yesterday, the consulate stated that the programme would allow certain visa applicants, who had previously been issued US visas to renew their visas without attending an interview.
It said to qualify for the DHL Drop Box Visa Renewal Programme, visa applicants must satisfy specific criteria and that if applying as a group or family, all members must fulfil each criteria to use the programme.
The Consulate General explained further that to qualify for the programme, the applicant must be holding a Nigerian passport.
Others include: “the applicant’s last visa interview resulted in an issuance; the applicant was issued a two-year B1/B2 United States visa in Lagos or Abuja; the visa expired no more than one year prior to reissuance; the applicant was at least 14 years old at the time of the last issuance or will be under the age of 14 at the time of reissuance and the applicant has never been arrested nor had an encounter with law enforcement, customs, or immigration officials in the United States.”
It added that those who satisfy these criteria should follow the visa application instructions on the US Embassy Nigeria website, saying the ‘CGI visa appointment website would ask applicants a series of questions reflecting the criteria for the DHL Drop Box Visa Renewal Programme’.
It explained also that qualifying applicants will be prompted to print a letter confirming their eligibility for the programme and instructing them to drop off the letter with their passport, application confirmation sheet, passport photos and visa fee receipt to one of the DHL facilities in Lagos with the application packets being adjudicated and returned to the applicant’s selected DHL location within 7-10 business days.

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)

At These Coffee Klatches, Death Is on the Agenda

It can be tough to get a conversation going if you want to talk about the late stages of dementia, your last will and testament or the recent passing of your mother.
“When you’re at a cocktail party and you lead off by saying, ‘What do you think about death?’ it’ll be, ‘C’mon, man, it’s a party! Chill out!’ says Len Belzer, a retired radio host from Manhattan.
Belzer is among a growing number of people around the world who are interested enough in death to gather in small groups in homes, restaurants and churches to talk about it.
The gatherings, known as Death Cafes, provide places where death can be discussed comfortably, without fear of violating taboos or being mocked for bringing up the subject.
Organizers say that there’s no agenda other than getting a conversation started — and that talking about death can help people become more comfortable with it and thereby enrich their lives.
“Most people walking down the street, they’re terrified of death,” said Jane Hughes Gignoux, 83, an author who leads Death Cafe gatherings at her Manhattan apartment. “But if you think of death as part of life and let go of the fear, you think more about living your life well.”
Jon Underwood, who organized the first Death Cafe in London two years ago, said he was inspired by death discussions pioneered by Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist. The first Death Cafe in the U.S. was held in Columbus, Ohio, last year, and “It’s just kind of snowballed,” he said, estimating nearly 300 Death Cafes have been held in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Brazil and Singapore.
One was held at a Georgia cemetery. Sessions are scheduled this week alone in California, Colorado, Florida, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
At a recent two-hour Death Cafe shepherded by Gignoux, six participants, most in their 60s, talked easily over tea and biscotti.
Kathryn Janus, 66, noted that death involves “a lot of ‘why?’ Why did a 12-year-old with leukemia die? Why did a cat get run over?”
Marjorie Lipari, 68, talked about the death of her twin brother 16 years ago.
“What does one do with that kind of hole?” she asked. “It never occurred to me he wouldn’t be with me for my whole life.”
Robb Kushner, 62, discussed the differences between Christian and Jewish funerals he’d been to, noting the open casket at a Methodist wake. Alicia Evans, in her 40s, then told the tale of a man known to be a bit “scruffy” in life who was nicely tidied up by the embalmer.
“He looked so good in the coffin I wanted to give him my number,” she said, cracking up the group.
Janus said afterward, “I like that we laugh.” But Lipari said she wasn’t sure she would ever be entirely at ease about death.
“My ego is going to be opposed to death because that’s ego’s job,” she said. “My goal is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable about death.”
Other subjects commonly brought up at Death Cafes range from financial planning to suicide. They include cremation, memorial services, loved ones’ last moments and the possibility of an afterlife.
Underwood and other organizers emphasize that the discussions are not meant to be counseling. “There’s no guest speaker, no materials, because we’re not guiding people to any conclusions.”
And while the sessions attract a wide range of religions, races and ages, organizers note there are more people 50 and above than in their 20s.
Jane Bissler, incoming president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, a professionals’ group, said she approves of the Death Cafe concept because people can speak freely about a subject that has become increasingly taboo.
“We’ve tried to shield our children. Some of them don’t know what to do at a funeral home or how to support a friend who’s lost someone,” she said. “We’ve raised a whole generation of folks that may not be talking about death.”
Audrey Pellicano, 60, a Death Cafe facilitator, said it’s not surprising baby boomers have avoided talking about death because their generation has been resisting aging for decades.
“We don’t deal with loss,” she said. “We know how to acquire things, not how to give them up. We have no idea how to leave this life and everything we’ve got.”
Gignoux said participants often bring up supernatural aspects such as communications from the dead. “Some people have very rich experiences,” she said.
The Rev. Mark Bozzuti-Jones, who arranged for Death Cafes to be held at Manhattan’s famous Trinity Church, said the discussion should be open to all views, regardless of whether they conform to religious teachings.
“I suspect every person probably has a different understanding of death, the afterlife, no afterlife,” Bozzuti-Jones said. “The different views may provide some form of healing.”
Kushner said he doesn’t need any firm answers to benefit from Death Cafes.
“I like the idea that we live with this great mystery,” he said. “Wouldn’t life be boring without it?”

Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)