Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Of Funerals, and Reflections of a Long (Ramadan) Holiday


It began last Friday with what many people consider to be a long holiday.

It was no intention of mine to make it any longer than it had to be – what with the ending of Ramadan fasting for our Muslim friends in the country being granted as a holiday – as I abhor four-day holidays like the plague, but nonetheless, it helped me obtain insights not just into myself, but into other social aspects of living in Ghana.

nice, aerial view of the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange (right)

The reason for the absence on Friday 20 October was for nothing less than the funeral of my maternal cousin. In tones reminiscent of the funeral I attended last year in April, I found myself marveling at the roles and utility of funerals in this country.

As far as my experience with Ghanaian funerals go, there is no hard-breaking news there: it’s a template of crowds – both family and well-wishers – clad in mostly black, and looking pensive, contemplative, and distraught. Funerals inevitably remind us that one day, the same fate shall befall us, but at times, I spend more time looking around at the hypocrisy in the air.

Barring my divulging of any personal family politics, I think it is sufficient to refer to that aspect that is, as F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the human condition in his classic the Great Gatsby, is always "quivering on the horizon". You have to always bear in mind in places like these that there is the maternal and paternal side of the family that is either battling for territory as to who should be seen to have organized things, like the poster, the names on the poster; the food; the reception; the eulogies, whatnot—or not.

My parents and I tend to belong to the latter category as we do not think this is what funerals should be about, but, you know, our family is far from the only one that is beset by this most asinine of considerations.


Another thing I realized was that I love the Central region, and it is not because we go to the family house there once in a while, but it is truly so green and so relaxing to travel on, especially now that the roads to that region having been improved considerably. The journey now takes something like 1hr,15 mins, as opposed to the 1hr30/35 mins that predominated travel times in 2004 and 2005.



On our way back to Accra, from the Central Region, we were stopped by police. We were amazed that police were doing random checks on a Sunday! Wow. In any event, what interested me more about having been stopped than the police officer stopping us was the greenery of the palm trees that had lined up on both sides of the road. Isn’t that just beautiful?

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