A DEATH IN GHANA

A DEATH IN GHANA

Ghanians are well known universally as adoring the dead & paying for expensive, flamboyant funerals.  So much so that the living are often left without resources to carry on, as they take out loans to give the appearance of affluence & later left with nothing.  Often relatives & friends are expected to rebuild houses, provide for airfare for those commuting a distance,  or burial clothes with expensive funerary items for the deceased & the family.  Recently stated by the immediate past Director-General, of the Ghana Health Service, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, said that Ghanaians should pay attention to a healthy living and give priority to their health instead of spending all their resources on expensive funerals.

Funeral traditions in Ghana are indeed very interesting & have been adhered to for centuries!  The same practices that their ancestors did, they continue with today.  At some point money became a very important part of life & death in Ghana.  Maybe bartering was a mode to exchange services centuries ago.  Kwame has lost 2 sisters recently in Ghana, that I have written about in my blog.  One was his blood sibling, who died because surgery could not be performed until money was paid up front.  The other sister, referred to as Mum who had raised him with a grandmother, who had lived to be 101.  Imagine living to a ripe old age with the hardships, life brings to the people of that country.  His mother died in the process of breastfeeding him, & he lay there with a corpse, til all returned that day from the field. When a young child loses a parent, a new one is appointed to take care of the child.  Being a widow in Ghana, almost takes me back to biblical times.

Back to the topic!  After death is determined, the body will be taken to the mortuary.  It could be a long time before any funeral celebration can be planned.  Everyone that knew the person, must view the body.  When satisfaction is gained that all that need to view the body, have seen it, then preparation for funeral can begin. After the body has been viewed by all of the village, a funeral is planned which lasts a week.  This is a way of honoring all of the dead who have gone before them.  As Kwame says, “ It is like an American Memorial Day, where we go to honor the dead, who lost their lives in acquiring land for us.”  No body can be buried until the remembrance is done.  Ghanians pour alcohol over ground for remembrance, wanting the ghosts to know that they are remembering them. “We pray to God & worship the old memories.”  Then we slit the throats of sheep, pouring blood on the ground.  Then a feast begins & we eat for 2 days.”  Food gathered from the fields & the sheep that are slaughtered become our repast for our feasting.

Kwame is the tree of his extended family.  He tells me that everyone comes to him for shade. He meant relief from financial problems, wheither health needs, counseling, or just plain substance for daily living.”  Such pressure!  He is very torn right now, not only with pressure to alleviate the financial obligation of this rememberance, but physically feels a need to be in the presence of his past. “I am supposed to be like a son, who will stand there & bury her, but I can’t go.  She toiled for me, raised me , helped me get to America.  She deserves to have me stand at her graveside. It’s hard in Africa, Mummy.”

I have become his American Mummy, his family!  Such a beautiful heart!

Tomorrow, I will have to see about airfare.

RAMBLINGS

SORROW IN GHANA       sg0363[1]

SORROW IN GHANA IS WHEN A CHILD OF GOD DIES, FOR LACK OF MONEY FOR TREATMENT.  MY BEAUTIFUL PRECIOUS KWAME, JUST LOST HIS SISTER BECAUSE SURGERY WOULD NOT BE DONE, UNTIL THE MONEY WAS PAID UP FRONT.  SHE DIED BEFORE HE COULD GET THE NECESSARY MONEY, SENT TO THE FAMILY BY WESTERN UNION.  IT AMOUNTED TO ABOUT $150 AMERICAN DOLLARS.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?  DO WE REALIZE, RICH OR POOR HOW LUCKY WE ARE IN THIS COUNTRY.  WHEN A SURGICAL PROCEDURE IS NEEDED, THE DRS. DO NOT HESITATE TO OPERATE. POVERTY IS A TERRIBLE THING.  WE SHOULD HUMBLE OURSELVES IN THIS POSITION FOR A FEW DAYS.  IN OUR COUNTRY OF PLENTY, WE HAVE ARROGANCE & GREED.  HEAVEN HELP US! THANK GOD THAT YOU WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH, TO BE BORN IN THIS COUNTRY.

POETRY

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A GHANAIAN BOY’S VISION STALLED

 This Ghanian boy’s invitation to America,

Took a life’s span of 18 years,

Waiting, Hoping, Longing for the invitation-

Oh, so near, He’s yearning for the chance,

To make a better life-“Only in America-

You can work if you want to!” “AMERICA!”

A steady job, money to feed & clothe his family,

Yet, he must leave all of that behind-

His homeland of Ghana with familiar sights, sg0942[1]

Flora of African Mahogany, Giant Cotton, & Sapele trees,

Disappearing with slash & burn practices,

A family, a baby so small to remember-

Her Da-Da at all.

His sisters, brothers, all rely on him!

Now, migration to America at last,

But still FIVE years later, emptiness & loneliness,

His constant companion-

Where Home has become New Jersey, USA,

Established, working, assimilating into the culture,

But still, Dreams of his homeland, his family,

Haunt his every waking hour,

Like ghosts trampling on his chest.

His mind wanders to the days gone-by.

To verdant lush fields, savannahs, & streams,

Too poor sometimes to eat, but yet

He longs to be home again,

To see all the familiar places.

Feels loss of family, surroundings,

Worry, “Did my baby eat today?”

Separation devours & consumes him,

Til’ eating & sleeping become less,

I’m in a better place, but are THEY?

“LORD ABOVE, I pray-

Bring my loved ones to me!

Ease the restrictions to let them pass! ”

Too many years have passed by,

I age, as I wait for yet another invitation-

For my family, Please let it happen!

Or I’ll wither & die,

My family once again hungry,

No money for medical attention,

My deprivation & loss will have been in vain.

I have only bought time, time, time!

For nature’s inevitable outcome!

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THE CHILDREN’S CORNER

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MASTER WEAVER FROM GHANA

 

 

by Authors  Gilbert Ahiagble, Louise Meyer , Illustrator Nestor Hernandez

This book won the 1999 Best Book for Young Children by African Studies Association

Bobbo is a traditional weaver from Ghana, where his ancestors have been weavers for generations. His young son, Kweku, learns from him, just as Bobbo learned from his father. Through Kweku’s eyes, we see family and community life in the small fishing village of Denu. Kweku learns that in life, just as in weaving, “one thread is weak, while threads woven together are strong.” Magnificent full color photographs.

From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5-A first-rate look at an art form that has been a livelihood in this African nation for hundreds of years. Information on Ahiagble and his family, featured in the book, with details about their lifestyle and the history and technique of strip weaving by the Ewe people, are clearly presented through text and full-color photographs. The authors convey a marvelous feeling for the life and culture of these Ghanaians. Useful suggestions for further reading and a glossary conclude the volume.
Alice DiNizo, Plainfield Public Schools, NJ
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

One quote from this story is, “Their lives are woven together like threads, on a loom.”  Their cloth of strip weaving are called wrappers.  This cloth is never cut, but are used as a whole piece of clothing on special occasions.  Sometimes used as a skirt, or to lay over shoulders.  Other times to drape around mother to carry baby.  Wonderful photographs, illustrations, etc.  Asamoah’s children will enjoy the book.

RAMBLINGS

 
  

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 KWAME

 For many years, there was a young man from Ghana, that dreamed of coming to America.  His name was KWAME.  He lived in the seacoast city of Accra.  He wanted a better life for his family, which included extended family members.  As we spoke, he talked about the poverty in his country.  He was the one that everyone depended on, to make a good living in America.  “If I don’t work, they don’t eat.”  “In America, he says, You want work, you find work!” Kwame sends a good portion of his income to his family.  He had left a wife with three children, four years ago. “The little one was on her mother’s breast, when I left”, he explained.  It occurred to me that it was a beautiful way to describe the age of the child.  He tells me that it took 20 years to get a Visa. Now, his wife is waiting for an invitation, to seek a Visa for the family, to come here.  They have not seen each other, since he left his home.  The little one tells him on the phone, “Da-Da come home.  We miss you!” 

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 I have never seen such a hard working man, who is now about 46 years old.  He is rarely idle, has a beautiful smile, always appears happy.  I have to wonder about our culture of plenty, compared to this man, without the presence of his family, deprivation, very poor, thankful for litterly crumbs, to be alive, to be in America.  Kwame loves to use the expression “AMERICA”! for every mechanical device, portions of food, our “PLENTY!”
  It is blustery winter now & is very cold.  Kwame peddles his bicycle to my house in all kinds of weather.  He was wearing a thin windbreaker/vest, oversized pants & sneakers.  I gave him my husband’s heavy overcoat & other items for he & his family.  He was so thrilled to get everything.  Somethings, I was going to throw out.  He has a humongous barrel, filled with clothes, food, that he will send to his family in Ghana.  It will cost $50.00 to send across the ocean.  998460-p441

The QUESTION?   How did I come to meet this beautiful Christian man from Africa?  He knows his bible, as he quotes from it, in reference to his life.  “Anything is possible” with God!  He believes it, too.  This child of God, is a Presbyterian, but I want to change that, so we can go to church & choir practice together.  First, he has to get a driver’s license.  We are working on that!

Not to digress anymore, I contacted an agency to send a male home aide, to help me with my terminally ill husband, who is now in Hospice Care. God does answer prayer!  He sent me this wonderful angel, who not only takes good care of my husband, but also looks after me.  He is with me for a few hours in the morning & at night.  He cares for someone else, also, that provided housing for him.  After a snowstorm hit us at the beach, he called in afternoon & said, “Mama, You alright?  Do you need anything?”  I assured him that I was fine. He now worries about Mama.

Kwame hopes to get naturalized soon. He wants to be a citizen!  I think that this country’s people will be proud to add Kwame’s name to the citizenship list, who still believes the American dream (only in America), & will be an asset to citizenry.

I am trying to find a way to bring this family together soon.!  THIS ONE IS A KEEPER!