Vistanium Highlights Experiences of Cemetery Workers In “The Gravediggers” Documentary

Vistanium Highlights Experiences of Cemetery Workers In “The Gravediggers” Documentary

 While the graveyard is often considered the resting place for the dead, it is where work begins for certain people. For workers at the famous  Atan Cemetery in Lagos, their job is deemed sensitive as it involves digging graves and burying corpses regularly. These men have to tolerate the stigma that comes with their work, as they are usually left forgotten and uncelebrated in conversations about humanity. However the recent release of The Gravediggers—a documentary that briefly captures the experiences of those who tend to the dead—is a step in the right direction towards lending a voice to an oft-unnoticed group of workers in the Nigerian society.

Co-produced for Vistanium by Hassan Yahaya and Kayode Idowu, The Gravediggers tells the stories of these male workers of Atan Cemetery who take pride in their jobs even when family members and the general public belittle their means of livelihood.

The four gravediggers featured in the documentary are Omasheye Mayuku, Rasheed Babajide, Tunji Adeyemi, and Kayode (not Idowu, the co-director) — all of whom work at the Atan Cemetery in Yaba, Lagos State. The documentary captures the day-to-day affairs of these people who quietly cultivate the ground for the dead.

“This documentary provides a window into the lives of the people living as authentically as possible,” Hassan Yahaya and Kayode Idowu announced. In Yoruba culture, which is one of the languages in which the featured gravediggers express themselves, the dead is perceived as a secret that must be buried so as not to be stripped of dignity.

“Our intention with this doc is not to be didactic, moralizing, or to wring out global implications,” Hassan Yahaya explained, describing their new release. “Instead, we aim to [hopefully] magnify and probably amplify the realities of people who fly under society’s radar of what’s important.”

In his conversation with Pulse, Hassan Yahaya explained that both producers attributed success to highlighting the lives and shared living experiences of all of us as ordinary people. He also revealed that, by extension, the documentary is geared towards provoking philosophical questions about who deserves our attention and why. 

One of the gravediggers recounts initially informing his mother who opposed his decision to work in a cemetery. “If no one works at the cemetery, who will bury people?” he asks rhetorically, admitting the inevitability of a gravedigger’s commitment to covering the secret of the dead.

With Hassan and Kayode as first-time directors on this project, The Gravediggers is a reflection of the commitment of the filmmakers to amplifying the voices of everyday people with utmost authenticity.

Out on March 20, 2024, The Gravediggers is now available on Vistanium YouTube channel.

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