Monday, April 25, 2005

77 Degrees of Separation and a Funeral

Another errant goat. Another Sunday…with a twist: rain, sunshine, and a funeral service.

Isn’t it funny how apparently prosaic things (like the death of a very old man who happened to be a pope) can connect us in so many arcane ways. Don’t get me wrong—I am no Catholic, but after Sunday, I felt like being an Anglican.

Like a scene right out of the Vatican, a portly, bespectacled priest—with a heart full of wit and humour—sang on us yesterday morning as we attended the funeral service (part three of three) of a three-day mourning service for my maternal grandmother’s cousin. He talked about sanitation (sachet water being dumped everywhere); the Kyoto Protocol and why the Americans didn’t want to sign it, because might is right; men and their big toys (read: big cars); keeping peace at home (as the grass always looks and seems greener on the other side); and…appropriately, Noah and the environment.

Noah was a reference to Noah’s ark and the great tsunami that afflicted the Indonesian region on 26 December, 2004, when most Christians were just opening, or had opened, their Christmas presents. It was a poignant sermon replete with humour that just wanted me to go back to this guy’s Church.

Seeing as I am fierce Protestant/Methodist—thanks to my late grandmother—I think it would cause a bit of a storm. But, hey, seeing the fright written over people’s faces over the election of Pope Benedict the XI, I wonder whether people aren’t thinking whether they should do a volte-face on their faith.

But that’s only me.

Equally poignant was the rainbow—to which he referred as God “not being angry forever”. His rainbow was a sign to us that he would never ever show anger to that extent again, by wreaking such devastation. When people, from the likes of those down at my favourite radio station (ever!!) BBC Radio Four start on their ”Thought for the Day”, I can listen incessantly, and will not ever miss recording one for posterity. It is a shame being here now in Ghana, I can only record it with a Dictaphone. But, hey, it’s still permanently stored isn’t it?

But I digress…

The point about all this is that the sermon was brilliant!—BLOODY brilliant, and the guy had us cracking up in waves of awe and admiration.

The denouement of the homily was a joke that had us all in stitches…

There’s this wife who has a very sustainable business in Ghana called a chop-bar. She feeds low-income people plenty of food and drink. And they come back for more. Sadly, she has a husband…who is a VERY lazy man who eats and drinks this same food that she spends her hard-earned money providing.

One day, fed up with her husband’s attitude, she buys a dog, and calls it “bad marriage”.

Soon after, her husband buys a dog, and calls it “such is life”.

In what the woman thought was a clever subtle message to her husband, (each time, she calls her dog, “bad marriage!, come here!!”), he serves up a delicious riposte: “such is life, come here!!”.

I’m sorry if it didn’t crack you up, but in vernacular, it rocks! And ofcourse delivery makes a great deal of a difference.

No brownie points for me ;-)

In all seriousness, though, jokes aside, the weekend and the funeral (he was 77) was not as bad as I had envisaged it to be. Considering the curses that were streaming from my mouth on Friday as I hopped into Dad’s Chev Trailblazer along with Mum as we travelled for a good one and a half hours (excluding traffic) to the Central region, you would have thought I would have boycotted the whole darn thing.

I am really glad I didn’t. It was beautiful—and the Sunday, for all its poignancy, was legendary.

Saturday was an equally beautiful day. I found out that day that my Mum’s mum (my maternal grandmother who came to stay with us in Brussels from 1986-1993) was related to the First Lady—no other than Theresa Kuffuor. Not some distant thing as relative-speak in Ghana is wont to be, but seriously related as in the relative of mine whose funeral me and my parents attended down in Mankessim was the DIRECT sister of Theresa Kuffuor and another statesman—J.H.Mensah, who is currently Senior Minister in the Council of State of the Kuffour government.

How FREAKY is that?

I was wondering what the hell such impressive security detail (4 jeeps of the Toyota Landcruiser/Jeep category, plus a slew of policemen sporting scary AK-47s, as well as non-marked cars that were clearly Castle security (as in from the house of the President of the republic)) had to do with a funeral.

Now I know.

It speaks volumes that she took time out to observe her relative’s funeral, which, incidentally, was held in an open air place—precisely on the grounds of the school in Mankessim, called “Kessim”.

Maybe going to these funerals isn’t all that bad – if only to catch a temporary glimpse into the lives of the big and famous!—and make an otherwise uneventful weekend something to write home about!;-)

Six degrees of separation? I turn 28 tomorrow. The age of my grandmother's cousin was 77. I was born in 1977. The temperature was around 28 degrees on Saturday.

Maybe just coincidence...

six degrees of separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called "Chains."
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