AIDS Epidemic Leads South African Blacks To Revive ‘Burial Societies’
The AIDS epidemic has led many black South Africans to revive the tradition of "burial societies," in which members pay a monthly fee in exchange for assistance in burial expenses and support for family members after their death, USA Today reports. In the Masakhane burial society, which is "equal parts church service, insurance agency and support network," members pay $3.75 a month, and in return, their relatives receive $625 when they die, according to USA Today. In addition, all members attend the night vigil and burial of any member who dies and must help to cater the traditional burial lunch. More South Africans belong to the societies than to any other community group, including churches and sports groups, with an estimated three million South Africans, or one in four black adults, belonging to such societies. The societies were founded nearly one hundred years ago as a way for migrant workers to ensure that their bodies would be buried back at their rural homes and support would be provided for their family after their death. The groups waned after the end of apartheid and forced migrant labor but have been "given new life" by the AIDS epidemic, according to USA Today (Singer, USA Today, 5/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.