Chairman of Liberia's National Council of Chiefs and Elders, Chief
Zanzar Kawar, right: He and his stubborn colleagues may prove to
be one of the biggest impediments to stemming the Ebola outbreak.
Tribal Chiefs Reject
Order to Burn Ebola Corpses as 'Abominable' (The Analyst, Liberia)
chiefs and elders of Liberia have said that although the Ebola virus is
devastating the country, the government’s decision to burn the dead is in complete
violation of Liberian culture and traditions. … The chiefs and elders said it is
absolutely wrong and under Liberian culture, abominable, for a corpse to be
burned. The traditional leaders have therefore called on the government to immediately
halt the practice."
Liberia's traditional leaders have in no uncertain terms
condemned a government order to burn the corpses of those who die as a
result of Ebola. In August, the Liberian government ordered the burning of dead
Ebola victims after there were pockets of resistance from certain communities.
The chiefs and elders of Liberia have said that although the
Ebola virus is devastating the country, the government’s decision to burn the
dead is in complete violation of Liberian culture and traditions. The chiefs,
elders and zoes spoke at the
end of a four-day conference in Gbarnga organized by
the Internal Affairs Ministry with support from the Carter Center-Liberia.
The chiefs and elders said it is absolutely wrong and under
Liberian culture, abominable, for a corpse to be burned. The traditional
leaders have therefore called on the government to immediately halt the practice.
The chiefs and elders, however, agreed to do away with some other traditional
practices that tend to undermine the fight against Ebola. The chiefs and elders
through their head, ZanzarKawar,
planned to engage the government to have it halt further burnings of Liberian
dead, whether as a result of Ebola or any other disease.
Speaking at the conference, Internal Affairs Minister Morris
Dukuly admonished the country's chiefs to play a leading
role in combating the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging the country.
Minister Dukuly said that contributions
from chiefs in the fight against Ebola are crucial, and as such, everything
possible must immediately be done to curtail the further spread of the virus.
He warned the chiefs to do away with cultural practices that he said could
further spread the virus.
In order to break the chain of transmission of the virus, Minister
Dukuly said that all Liberians must join the
government in the battle against the disease. On behalf of the Liberian
government, Dukuly extended thanks to the Carter
Center for supporting the Liberia recovery process, especially in the midst of
the Ebola outbreak.
For his part, chairman of the National
Council of Chiefs and Elders, Chief ZanzarKawar, expressed gratitude to the Carter Center for helping
to empower the chiefs in the battle against the disease. Chief Kawar who was among scores of
chiefs to attend the four-day Ebola prevention training in Gbarnga,
said that the Carter Center's involvement in the program has provided a
platform for chiefs to collaborate with the government and partners in
eradicating the Ebola virus.
Leone's Paramount Chiefs: Erroneous claims that Ebola is declining
in their domains has made a medical emergency even worse.
He said the council of chiefs and elders has unanimously
agreed to combine the power of its members to combat the virus. Chief Kawar also wants Liberians to respect the power of their
culture and tradition, particularly in the midst of the Ebola virus disease.
Addressing the conference via telephone, the chairperson on
the Burial Management Team of Ebola Bodies in Liberia said the decision to burn
the dead is a result of fear for a return of the disease.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Madam Siatta Bishop said considering
the rainy season in the country where the water table is high, it is necessary
to burn bodies with Ebola. Bishop said that although it is against the culture
and traditions of the country, there is no better option for burial.
The training brought together 120 chiefs from across Liberia
and was also attended by several government officials and actors in civil
society, including Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale, Bong County Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy, and Dr. Konrad Hayashi of
the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.