Day 45: The Family Gathering

On Day 3 I was faced with the stark reality of the fragility of life. Every Saturday is ayi da (the day for funerals) here. There will not be any other day given to a funeral in Ghana (unless the person is Muslim, in which case the rule of almost immediate burial applies). Today was the funeral of my mum’s niece who was more like her friend because they were only 2 years apart.

Almost every week since that first Saturday when Yaw died, I have heard news of another relative passing away. This is because here in Ghana your family only ever grows in size, your grandmother’s cousin’s wife’s nephew is family. We laugh about that in the UK–the frivolity of our connection–but here in Ghana there’s no punch line, it’s just the way things are.

Back to today’s funeral. If you don’t want to spend 30 days back-to-back meeting and greeting the entire clan (for the sake of argument the clan is just the people you share blood with, your cousins and your mum’s cousins), going door-to-door across the city and sometimes country to see every uncle, aunty and cousin, in Ghana, get yourself to a family funeral. It’s probably the only place you’ll find everybody.

Anyone who’s been to Ghana will know that funerals are a serious affair here, by serious I mean it’s seriously important that you show your face… and have some fun! There’s a joke here that Ghanaians are only happy at funerals. Now I don’t think that’s because we’re evil people. I think we celebrate life rather than mourn death. But still, maybe we overdo the funeral going a bit too much.

Either way I did meet my mum’s cousins and their kids, some of whom are old enough to be called uncle. We were at the funeral at least an hour after the service ended, still just greeting people, before all going to the same house to continue the party. So in one day I’ve pretty much ticked my mum’s paternal side of the family off. What’s more, I think I’m feeling much more grounded here now.

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