This is a very un African Culture.
The world has changed in every aspect of life. But the idea that professional mourners should be hired to mourn at funerals of loved ones is by far, the most bizarre angle to the social change sweeping our world.
In Western Kenya among the Luo speaking people, a new culture of hiring professional mourners is on the rise. Young, unemployed men and women are making brisk and lucrative business by offering themselves as professional mourners at funerals of relatives of rich Luos who now find mourning at the funerals of their dead relatives costly. It seems to me, death is slowly losing its sting, because, going by what is happening in Western Kenya, why would anybody want someone else to mourn for a dead relative?
What happens is that the Professional mourners are generally shouting professionals who literally act bereavement! They wail, lament and say all sorts of things to express sorrow but deep within them, they feel nothing because all they do is for money. Many of those involved in professional mourning are youthful individuals who keep perfecting their mourning skills every time they are hired. As a result, some have gained so much reputation in the industry that they charge higher professional fees than others.
In other parts of the world, professional mourning is already embedded in the cultures of the people, but all I can say is that it is very un African. If you have lived in Africa, you may have noticed that many African societies take death very seriously and personally. Europeans running NGOs in many parts of Africa know that some of the greatest time wasters in the organizations they run is attending funerals by Project staff. Most Africans will never miss a burial of a relative even when such a relationship is not so close because that is the culture they found obtaining in their societies. But when mourners are hired to wail and yell at funerals, they leave the unpalatable impression that those close to the deceased have not been deeply affected by the loss of that dear one and yet death naturally should affect people.
We pray that this culture should die naturally at its origin because if it spreads across the continent, some of our most respected core values around death will be badly watered down by this new trend on bereavement.