Wearing a black patch on the sleeve was a mark of mourning. A death had occurred in the family.
While the mourners would wear muslin materials for the first 100 days, and some would even wear black, mourning was not complete until the mourners wore their black patch for 1 or 3 years and the final ritual was the burning of the black patches at the cemetery of the dearly departed.
Funerals in the 1950's and 60's included children kneeling on the floor to bow to friends and relatives who came to pay respects to the newly departed, while the coffin was still in the house.
A wailer would even be engaged, while some came on their own free will, if permitted, to sing mournfully about the goodness of the departed and give recounts of the good deeds he or she had done.
At the back of the living room, seamstresses would be busy making mourning clothes fo the children, widow, and relatives. Some would also be bundling door gifts of towels and handkerchiefs for those who came to "nak ba ging" or white gold, as a token of condolences.
My siblings and I wore the black patch for three years because my father died at an early age of 56. It was a decision made by elders of the family.
By the time we could take down our patches and burning them at my father's cemetery, many of the left sleeves were already quite torn from the constant pinning of the patches.
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