Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Ghanaian Funeral: Part 2

Seventh Day Celebration:

It was too hot to go to another funeral. Jones had invited us the other day, and we agreed for the sake of being polite. Hadn’t I already been to a funeral? I crawled out of the comfort of my mosquito net, pushed my sweaty hair back from my forehead, dropped my book and followed my friends to the taxi station. Turns out that this was nothing like the funeral I first experienced.

An hour later we arrived in Mampong. Jones was there waiting for us with a friend he called his brother. He told us that this was the Seventh Day Celebration part of the funeral rites. It is held a week after the death to raise money for the funeral expenses and to begin the celebrations surrounding the life of the individual. You can wear anything but white, but most people were wearing your typical red and black attire. Anyone and everyone should come. These Ghanaian funerals are not cheap.

I took a deep breath and plunged into the crowd, going through the clumsy routine I was only half sure of, trying to maintain an impossibly low profile being white and all. I greeted the elders, vacillated between good eye contact, bowing, and offered my condolences for the death through an abysmal greeting in clobbered Twi. I was so engrossed in keeping up the routine that I didn’t notice that Jones’ “brother” was holding my hand. When he got an inch away from my lips I clued in, pulled away, and then got kissed on the ear.

Recovering from the shock of it we went out back where the family was serving Fanta and Coke products, much like a regular funeral. Brother sat right beside me. I leaned towards Maggie.

“Is this a kissing culture?”
“Definitely not.”
“Did he kiss you?”
“I hardly know…”

We sat there for a half an hour. I could only use my language barrier as a shield for so long before Brother’s proposals drifted to the other white girls in the group. After hanging around for the polite thirty minutes we decided it was time to make our donation and catch the fastest tro-tro back to Wiamoase.

We ended up having the whole car to ourselves and laughed the entire way home. If that was not a cultural experience, or even a funeral experience, tell me then, where is a story like this supposed to go?


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