When a person dies in most communities in the Ghana, especially in the Greater Accra Region, the immediate family is informed.
While the body of the deceased is kept at the morgue, the family organises a one week-celebration to announce the date for the funeral. People who attend this ceremony may be very close friends, neighbours, work colleagues among others. This particular celebration is an entire day’s event. Individuals, who pass through this ceremony, may make donations of money, bottled water, beverages and food items to be used by the family during the actual funeral rites. Those who pass through this celebration are lightly refreshed with food and beverages.
On the scheduled date of the funeral, the corpse is laid in state (mostly in the family’s residence) at dawn on Saturday (mostly). After a brief ceremony with close family, the body is then made available for viewing by guests and attendants of the funeral. If the deceased was a Christian, church songs are normally sang during the filing past.
A church service may be organised for the individual at home. If that happens, the deceased may still be available for viewing. If the memorial service takes place in the church, the body is placed in the casket and transported to the church building. A short service is organised where songs are sang, prayers are said and tributes read by family, work colleagues, friends etc.
After the church service, the casket is lifted and taken to the burial grounds for internment. The dead may be buried in the city/town that he/she resided or could be transported to their hometown which could be several miles away from where funeral is taking place. At the cemetery, brief rites are performed before the body is lowered to the ground. Wreaths are then laid and final prayers are said amidst wailing and weeping.
The family and guests then move to a chosen venue where they are treated to some form of refreshment. Donations are made to the deceased’s family by the guests. A table is set where the donor makes the donation and their details are recorded. That information is furnished to an announcer/master of ceremony who mentions it through the microphone and publicly acknowledges the donor. This goes on till the donations stop coming in.
The next day, which is normally a Sunday, close family and friends attend a thanksgiving service at the deceased’s church. This is done to thank God for a safe burial. Prayers of protection, strength and good health are said for the family.
A ‘gbonyo’ or ‘dead’ party is organised after the church service for the family and the guests. Meals and beverages are served and the latest music is played over loud speakers and people dance.
The above is the general structure for most funerals in Ghana but it could vary depending on the status of the individual in the society (chiefs and other traditional leaders), the mode of death (accident, natural), religion (Islamic funerals are totally different) and their age (young or old).
Funerals in most communities in Ghana are known to be costly and lucrative for those in the business. Example caterers, masters of ceremonies, professional mourners etc. Recent times have seen a lot of families resorting to private burials due to the covid-19 because a bann has been placed on large gatherings. This is causing low revenue generation to those in this business.
How are funerals organised in your community? Let us know 😊
***This is 14/22 of the #WinterABC2020. The prompt is share about one cultural aspect from your community or country.***