What is the purpose of the death watch in African customs?
The custom among black people to guard the remains of a person who died, before burial, is explained in different ways when we ask questions about the motive. Some say they are afraid that the sorcerer will come and remove some of the organs of the body to prepare muti -- medicine. Some say they are afraid to sleep because they fear that they will meet the spirit of the dead one in their dreams.
Others say they fear something they cannot explain.
Others again, declare that they only meet for religions purposes to comfort the bereaved family with songs of comfort.
If there is no connection between this custom and sorcery; no fear for the spirit of the
one who died and the ancestral spirits, we, as Christians, can find no fault with it. Because, as Christians, we are in the hands of our Heavenly Father. That applies also to the Christian who died, next to whose corpse we gather together. We must say with Paul: so whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (see Romans 14:7-12). The sorcerer cannot harm the spirit of the Christian who died because he is under the protection of the mighty Holy Spirit.