Ghanaian funerals are a community occasion attended by a large number of mourners, which could reach hundreds and more. "That means the person was very approachable, very benevolent, was good to mingle, was having a good communiqué with the people within the society," says Jamima, a family friend who attends the funeral of the 70-year-old Joanna Boafo in the town of Kumasi. Ghanaians may spend as much money on funerals as on marriages, sometimes even more. "An average funeral should cost between GHS 15,000- GHS 30,000," says Kwaku, a funeral planner who is in charge of 30 funeral parties on this one day alone.
I think if she is anywhere, if my mother is anywhere right now, she will be very happy. That includes the required giant, flamboyant announcements that publicize funeral preparations. The billboards, which may cost from nearly GHS 3000 to GHS 20,000, are placed at strategic spots for everybody to see, often dotting the cities' skylines. Most memorials are held on the weekends, most commonly on Saturdays. Mourners, usually robed in black or black and red traditional funeral clothing, may travel to other towns or villages, and in turn they assume the bereaved families to provide food, drinks, music and dance.
The luxury also extends to the coffers. A Ghanaian worker skills a coffin that looks like a bottle of cola. Coffins have become an announcement in Ghana. They are usually brightly colored and extravagant. They may have unbelievable shapes that look like the dead's favorite objects, or represent their profession.
Thus, a carpenter may have a coffin shaped like a hammer, or a shoe for a shoemaker. There are also caskets shaped like Coca-Cola bottles and airplanes. Ghanaians revere the dead so much that funerals are at the heart of Ghanaians' social life. Lavish spending on funerals has invited criticism from political and religious leaders. "We are investing in the dead rather than the living, and that is bad," legislator Alban Bagbin once said.
Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, the Archbishop of Accra, said: "The surest way to remember the dead is not the type of coffins used to bury them nor is not the type of cloth or T-shirt won during their funerals, but doing something positive for the dead which would benefit the living." Why do Ghanaians adore funerals that much?
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