Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My Unwitting Foray into Ghana's "Funeral Tourism" (of a Domestic Kind)


Given Ghanaian's penchant for attending funerals, it was only a matter of time before a term be coined to describe all the kinds of activities
associated with what I would call "funeral activism". I rarely write about them here--and not because I don't attend them, but largely because it's not my style to pour gloom on my beloved followers. When I did first write--that was in 2005--I attempted to bring some humour to it. I called it
"77 Degrees of Separation and a Funeral
"
.

To be specific about "funeral tourism", I had the unfortunate "priviledge" of attending the funeral of a colleague's Dad in Akosombo last Saturday. Now Akosombo is no stranger to the organisation as it is a place that has played host to a many of our institutional year-end "retreats" long before I came.

Being there again reminded me not just of the greatness of Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah-- whose planning of Akosombo, where the world's largest man-made lake remains in the Akosombo dam is--but also of how endearing the serenity and order of the place remains.

Despite the humidity, it is a place I would not mind visiting evey weekend; it's a world apart from the chaos of Accra, and so verdant you won't believe it's only some 90 minutes drive from the bustling capital.

All this praise for the place does not take away from the "funeral tourism"; it only brought it home yesterday when a colleague referred to it. Given the number of funerals that take place every weekend, and how "sympathizers" are always welcome, you are most likely going to find people with more time than sense feeling like travelling across the country to a part of Ghana they have never seen before -- just for a funeral. Naturally, in the process, seeing a bit of town they would not normally have seen.

If ever this called for a way forward, then it would be in the government communicating, promoting, advocating domestic tourism. A website-- like that of the Ghana Tourist Board on http://www.touringghana.com is great, but it needs to go beyond the electronic and spread to radio and television: Ghanaians need not a funeral before they decide to enjoy the country that is so green and blessed with beaches and beautiful sights all round!
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