My very first visit to the Southern Cemetery on January 22nd, 2022 was disheartening, on top of me having to lay to rest a dear friend who was allegedly ran over by a hit-and-run driver on December 17th, 2021. I say allegedly, as I haven’t seen any news or police reports on the cause of death, only information received by his friends on the day this happened.
This cemetery is located on Cowpen Road and I understand it is primarily used by families that are financially strapped. I guess there is no pleasant way to describe this. At the time, we were there at 11 o’clock in the morning. There were about four funerals going on at the same time and it took some time asking where our friend, Johnny Josue, was being laid to rest. Finally, we found the spot and the funeral home was busy erecting the tent to shield us from the morning sun, which was bearing down on us. Looking around the cemetery, it was a disgrace. There were empty graves, others that had been used with collapsing pieces of plywood on top and some had no names. I had no idea who was buried there and in place of headstones, there was a layer of fresh cement placed on the grave side where one has to scribble the name of their deceased loved one.
In the midst of my observation, I overheard my daughter, Lauren, fussing profusely with a male worker as he was urinating on one of the graves right in front of her. Even in death the deceased are totally disrespected. While the service was going on, workmen just a few feet away from us were busy organizing the freshly made slabs that will cover the grave. With the hammering and the scraping and vehicles passing within feet of the mourners, I found it hard to pay attention as I paid my final respects to Johnny.
In addition, there was another funeral which was a few feet away from us. The mourners there were crying in anguish so loudly that we really had to pay attention to the priest. I don’t know how he was able to focus with all the distractions around us.
Space is obviously an issue, as the graves are practically touching each other. I realized that persons being buried there are unable or not willing to use a private cemetery, but certainly whoever is in charge of this place, deemed a cemetery, should make this a better place to rest a loved one.
There is no dignity being buried in this cemetery and my dear friend deserved better than this. It is a sad situation and does not speak well of us as a people. I ask that the persons responsible take a hard look at this burial ground and bring some order and dignity. Even though the families might be destitute, they truly desire and deserve better.
• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: email@example.com.