Thursday, September 27, 2007

Billboards to the Dead

It is true what they say – the Ashanti Region is the funeral capital of Ghana!

I had to go to Kumasi last weekend for a training workshop that was being conducted. I arrived on Friday, one of the traditional funeral days in the Akan religion, and already you could see the preparations either being started or well underway. By Saturday, some of the workshop participants were missing, while others turned up with their mourning cloth, eager to get well away before the afternoon funeral activities were to be started. Those mourners that I saw gathered for funerals, made the groups in Accra seem small by comparison! Plastic tables, chairs and catering must be very good businesses indeed.

What however confirmed that this was indeed the funeral capital was the presence of what I have now termed ‘billboards to the dead’. This was indeed a different level than the invitation cards and page long advertisements for the funerals in the daily papers. On the Ejisu-Kumasi road we passed several, with each bigger and seemingly more exorbitant than the one before! All had pictures of the deceased, usually with their names, ages, a local saying and who this billboard was ‘sponsored’ by! I couldn’t believe it! Erecting a billboard in Ghana is not a cheap affair, and some of these rivaled even the bigger commercial billboards advertising their wares. I am curious to know the rationale behind these billboards – public acclamation? Positioning of the family? Hmm, would be interesting to know indeed.

While in Kumasi, also went to Lake Bosamtwi, a natural lake in the middle of the mountains – was funny to find out that the wife of the owner of the most popular hotel there is Jamaican. We everywhere fi true! More on that in another post though. Also while in the Ashanti capital a gas explosion happened at one of the filling stations. We drove past the site on Saturday morning, seeing but disbelieving as we look at the damage that had been done at the station and to the properties in the vicinity. Hundreds of persons were injured, and now there has been an attempt to shut down illegal operators of road side filling stations, as well as established filling stations that don’t meet safety standards.

And just in case the family of this lady happens across my blog …no offense meant, but I really had to take a picture!


Anonymous said...

This is sooooo interesting. You make me feel as though I am there.

Anonymous said...

I name is Fiifi Adinkra and leave in Effia-kuma where the Jamaica Youth club is located. it a youth club which seeks to bring all the youth in the area together. unfortunately am not a member of it but i love it. Occasionally fun games are organized in the area where various youth clubs participate. if which i could tell you much about rasta and Ghanaians view about Jamiaca.
Let communicate