Cites the Fifth Commandment from the Holy Bible as guide
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel R. McGill, has defended burying his mother lavishly amid public outcry at his opulent display in the matter.
Min. McGill buried his mother on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in a stylish mausoleum that is big enough for a three-bedroom family home. It comes as many Liberians continue to live in dire economic hardship, barely able to feed themselves and their families.
The mausoleum, built by Min. McGill, had its interior and exterior including the floor tiled in marble, fenced with gardens, and fully electrified with receptors.
However, the minister appears unfazed by the public outcry, who has now gone to great lengths to justify the opulence of his deceased monther’s resting place.
Justifying his action, Min. McGill said the burial of his mom was in fulfillment of the Fifth Commandment of the Christian holy book, the Bible. The Fifth Commandment says: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
For McGill the ‘honoring’ the scripture talked about includes doing so for his mother even in death; therefore, he believes he was not wrong to bury his mom in such a mausoleum in the midst of widespread poverty.
“This commandment is so important that it is one of the only commandments in the entire Bible that gives a reason for observing it,” Min. McGill wrote on Facebook in defense of the burial.
“Many people read that part of the Fifth Commandment as a reward. But while it may be regarded as a reward, the fact remains that it is a reason,” he added. “If you build a society in which children honor their parents, your society will long survive. And the corollary is: A society in which children do not honor their parents is doomed to self-destruction.”
However, many Facebook users were quick to raise issues with the Minister’s interpretations of the Fifth Commandment when it is written in Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
For Min. McGill, the connection between honoring parents and maintaining civilization is not widely recognized, as many of the best-educated parents do not believe that their children need to show them honor, since “honoring” implies a figure of authority, and that is a status many modern parents reject.
“In addition, many parents seek to be loved, not honored, by their children. Yet, neither the Ten Commandments nor the Bible elsewhere commands us to love our parents. This is particularly striking, given that the Bible commands us to love our neighbor, to love God, and to love the stranger.”
“The Bible understands that there will always be individuals who, for whatever reason, do not love a parent. Therefore, it does not demand what may be psychologically or emotionally impossible,” he added. “But it does demand that we show honor to our parents. And it makes this demand only with regard to parents. There is no one else who the Bible commands us to honor.”
According to Min. McGill, there are many ways to honor parents, and that the general rule is that they get special treatment.
“Parents are unique; so they must be treated in a unique way. You don't talk to them in quite the same way you do anyone else. For example, you might use expletives when speaking to a friend; but you don't with a parent. You don't call them by their first name. And when you leave their home and make your own, you maintain contact with them. Having no contact with parents is the opposite of honoring them,” he said.
McGill noted “and, yes, we all recognize that some parents have behaved so cruelly -- and I mean cruelly, not annoyingly -- that one finds it morally impossible to honor them. There are such cases. But they are rare. And remember this, if your children see you honor your parents, no matter how difficult it may sometimes be, the chances are far greater than they will honor you.”
“I can only thank God for giving me such a loving mother, whom I will forever miss and whom we can never replace. But I also thank the Lord for making me honor her the way I did. Thanks to all those who stood by us as we honored mama. May God bless you all bountifully. Honor your father and your mother and let the promise of God work for you,” the Minister said.
McGill’s critics are not as concerned about the Fifth Commandment as they are about the need for accountability. How was the Minister able to afford this level of funeral arrangements, when just two years ago he took out a mortgage loan for the home he currently lives in?
Mother McGill is laid to rest in a shiny bronze or gold casket, interred in a marble-tiled grave. At the entrance of the burial site, a relief of an angel stands before the entrance of the covering.
Many have dubbed McGill’s feat as the ‘burial of the year’ and rightly so. Others are wondering why the Minister of State, knowing full well the condition of the struggling masses, decided to bury his mother in such an opulent manner.
Unconfirmed reports have estimated that the project cost the Minister between US$20,000 and US$50,000.
“Not even Liberia’s first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, was buried in such grand style,” a commentator told the Daily Observer.
At the age of 70, Mother Watta Varmah succumbed to the cold hands of death on Saturday, June 26, 2021.
She was buried on Thursday, July 22, 2021, near the National Cemetery of Ebola victims, in Nedowein Community along Monrovia’s Robertsfield Highway, Margibi County.
The gravesite of Minister McGill’s mother is modern and fully equipped with electricity, guards to protect the grave.
The funeral, which was also carried live on some social media platforms, was met with a barrage of criticism of some angry and diehard and loyal CDCians, many of whom still do not have electricity. Yet, Minister McGill’s late mother’s grave is fully electrified, with electrical sockets.
The opulent burial of Min. McGill’s mother comes barely a week after the youth league of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change scolded two government officials for what the group described as “a reckless display of wealth, while the vast majority of the people struggle for better living conditions.”
The CDC Youth League’s criticism was directed at J. Emmanuel Potter, who works at the Ministry of State as an Assistant Minister, and the Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Lenn Eugene Nagbe.
Potter was criticized for buying an Audi Q7 vehicle for his wife’s birthday and pouring a bottle of champagne on the car as he revealed the luxury vehicle to her. The act, which went viral on Facebook, angered the Youth League of the ruling party, who questioned his ability to afford the vehicle for his income bracket. Nagbe, on the other hand, was scolded for uploading several pictures of himself “eating luxurious meals” at some of the country’s premier restaurants with the caption, “Food versus Man.”