For many Nigerians the coffin making job is one which arguably comes with an air of uneasiness, and this is because of the fact that the job is associated with the dead.
Hence, when it comes to choosing jobs, it’s always the preference of many parents to advise their children to avoid such job.
In an interview with The PUNCH, a Lagos coffin maker identified as Olasubomi Ade, stated that he took a liking for the job because, for him, it was special.
“The way it is designed and how the woods come together to make beautiful pieces is one thing I love about my work.
“I make other furniture pieces but seeing a finished coffin leave my workshop for a funeral home fills me with instant peace”, he said.
Ade stated in March 1996 that he had lost one of his close relatives and required a casket for burial but could not find one that was ‘befitting’ for the deceased.
As a woodworker himself, he wanted to make something with the assistance of his former boss, who taught him carpentry.
That, he claims, was the beginning of his fascination with the art of coffin manufacturing.
On the day of his deceased relative’s funeral, Ade claimed everyone kept complimenting on the elegance of the coffin, and he felt he had “talent for this kind of work.”
Ade claimed that when he asked his wife about her opinion on the craft, she responded, “That kind of business is for bad people,” adding that she would not participate.
She agreed after much persuasion, which included the participation of the wider family, provided that the workshop would be isolated from other pieces of furniture.
“My wife thought I had gone mad. You know how people look at us because of this business, as though we are purveyors of death. We all will die one day and enter a coffin if our religion permits, so there is no need for all the cynicism about the trade”.
Ade recalled an astonishing encounter he had while accompanying a driver to deliver a coffin in an area of Osun State.
According to him, the automobile brake failed, which led to the death of his son who followed him.
“People said a lot of things. I had three sons and he was the one who was really interested in the business.
“I had lost my wife years earlier. This business and my two boys are all I live for,” he added.
Another coffin maker Bankole Esan, who started the business about ten years ago, says that sales have been difficult due to the economic climate.
In an interview with journalists, the casket manufacturer from Ekiti State said that he had seen better days.
Esan explained that he had always been a fan of furniture building and chose to enter the craft after finishing high school.
He was in Lagos at the time, working as a driver in one of the mainland funeral homes.
He stated that he became interested, learned the skill, and eventually became a professional.
Esan stated that when he relocated to Ado-Ekiti, he chose to open Banky Funeral Homes.
When Esan told his mother he intended to start constructing and selling caskets, she objected, stating it was not a “healthy business for a man like me.”
“It was a serious battle. I had to make her understand that it was just work for me. But, it was not as easy as I am saying it now,” he added.
He also indicated that society treated him unfairly, saying that some people perceived him as someone who “stored dead people” in his home.
“It is just a wooden box that all of us will enter into someday. There is nothing mysterious about coffins. I think it is just the notion over the years that it may symbolise something bad,” he noted.
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