Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Buried in Debt: The High Cost of Funerals In Liberia

The average cost of a funeral in Liberia is approximately USD 500-1000.  The Gross National Income per person in Liberia is $680. This means that the average person in Liberia earns less than $700 per year but the cost of a funeral is around $500-$1000. 

Funerals in Libera cost around $750 USD while the average yearly wage for Liberians is $680 USD. 

Funerals are a significant part of Liberian culture, serving as an important opportunity for families and communities to honor and mourn their loved ones. However, the cost of funerals in Liberia is a cause for concern, particularly given the economic challenges faced by many Liberians. According to reports, the average cost of a funeral in Liberia is around $750 USD. This includes expenses such as coffin rental, transportation of the body, burial site fees, and funeral service arrangements. 

While this may not seem like a significant amount, it is important to consider that the average yearly wage for Liberians is around $680 USD, making funeral expenses a significant financial burden for many families. The high cost of funerals in Liberia is partly due to cultural expectations surrounding death and mourning. In many Liberian communities, it is considered disrespectful not to provide a proper funeral for the deceased, which often involves a lavish display of mourning, including food, drinks, and other offerings to guests. 

The pressure to keep up with societal expectations of a funeral can often lead families to spend beyond their means. The financial burden of funerals in Liberia is particularly acute for low-income families. Many Liberians live in poverty, with limited access to healthcare and other essential services. When a family member dies, the cost of a funeral can be an overwhelming expense, often requiring families to take out loans or sell assets in order to cover the costs. 

The high cost of funerals in Liberia is a significant financial burden for many families, particularly those living in poverty. While cultural expectations surrounding funerals are an important part of Liberian tradition, most families go beyond their financial means to provide a funeral for their loved ones which meat the Liberian cultural standard. 

The High Cost of Funerals in Liberia.
Buried in Debt the High Cost of Funerals in Liberia.

The color white is the color of morning in Liberia. This is in contrast to Western cultures where black is commonly associated with mourning. Funerals in Liberia are typically important cultural events that involve a combination of traditional and modern practices. 

Around 87 percent of the population identifies as Christian, 12 percent as Muslim, and the remaining as followers of traditional indigenous beliefs or other religions. Christianity in Liberia is predominantly Protestant. 

Five common practices for funerals in Liberia, they included cost, the wake, dress attire, music and dance, food, and the burial.

Before the actual funeral, there is usually a wake-keeping ceremony where family, friends, and community members come together to mourn and pay their respects to the deceased. This can last for several days and is typically held at the home of the deceased or a community center. 

Mourners often wear white clothing to signify mourning, although colorful attire may also be worn to celebrate the life of the deceased. 

Traditional music and dance are important components of Liberian funerals. Professional and amateur musicians play traditional instruments like drums and kora, and people often dance as a way of expressing their grief. 

The actual burial ceremony usually involves a procession to the cemetery, where the casket is lowered into the ground. In some cases, traditional rituals like pouring libations or sacrificing an animal may be performed before the burial. 

After the burial, mourners often gather for a meal or funeral repast, where they share food and memories of the deceased. In Liberia, one of the most popular foods served at funerals is known as cassava leaf soup. It is a thick stew made from cassava leaves, palm oil, and a variety of meats such as chicken, beef, or fish. 

It is often served with rice or another starchy side dish. This dish is a traditional and cultural food in Liberia and is often served at significant events such as weddings, funerals, and other celebrations.

The cost of a funeral in Liberia can vary depending on several factors such as location, the funeral home, type of service, and cultural practices. However, it is important to note that funeral expenses can be significant for families in Liberia, particularly those who are living in poverty.

 According to a report by the Liberian government, the average cost of a funeral in Liberia is approximately USD 500-1000. According to the World Bank, the Gross National Income (GNI) per person in Liberia is $680. This means that the average person in Liberia earns less than $700 per year but the cost of a funeral rent is around $500-$1000. 

However, this can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the death and the preferences of the family. Traditions and customs can vary depending on the region, community, and individual beliefs.

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