Restrictions on Funeral Gatherings during COVID-19 A Religious/Spiritual Perspective among the Zimbabwean Community Living in South Africa

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Phillip Musoni


COVID-19, hard lockdown, funeral rites, religio-spiritual world-view, prolonged grief, spiritual distress, Zimbabwean immigrants, pandemic


This essay endeavors to understand the impact of COVID-19 hard lockdown restrictions on funeral gatherings from a Zimbabwean religious/spiritual per-spective. For most Zimbabwean Christians and non-Christians, funeral rites of passage are at the apex of all religious activities and are revered in most social settings. The central questions to this study are: How have funeral gathering restrictions impacted on the religious/spiritual beliefs of many Zim-babwean immigrants living in South Africa, who were not able to attend fu-neral ceremonies back home in Zimbabwe? What religious/spiritual implica-tions does it have to attend or not attend funeral ceremonies from a Zimbab-wean religious perspective? These questions are raised because during the pandemic, most Zimbabweans who lived in South Africa were forbidden to go home to attend funeral ceremonies due to travelling restrictions between the two countries. This study found that most Zimbabwean immigrants who did not participate in funeral rites of passage due to COVID restrictions were left with spiritual distress after the pandemic. Data for this article were col-lected through interviews with individuals from Zimbabwe who are living in South Africa. Interviewees were selected using purposive sampling. Confi-dentiality, anonymity, and suppression of names are some of the ethical con-siderations maintained throughout this research.

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