Halloween has always been one of my favourite calender holidays. Not because of the dressing up or sweets or because you get a day off (you don’t), but because growing up, it was one of the three big annual family gatherings we had (the others being Christmas and Easter), but this one was special, as we played special games that were only ever played at Halloween! These days Christmas and Easter are still done, but Halloween has fallen by the wayside.
So with seeing and knowing stuff was being organised back in the UK I was interested what might happen for Halloween in Ghana.
Which was nothing.
today Saturday [edited for late posting] was pretty full of interesting and fun stuff, don’t get me wrong, just none of it was Halloween based.
First of all I got invited to a funeral. Ghanaian funerals are different from western funerals. They can last five days, Thursday to Tuesday, if the person is important enough, and although you wear black, there is a lot of music, dancing and greeting people. It may well be a sad and sombre event, but I’m yet to see or hear that side of it.
The funeral was being held in the street. The woman who died was my friend Williams’s grandmother in-law, so was pretty old with lots of family so the thing was big by any standards (we ourselves were nine in a minibus).
We actually only stayed around for about an hour, so it wasn’t that long as we had to travel about 3 hours to get there and had to head back before it got dark, but picture a street, maybe 50 meters blocked off with plastic chairs 5 rows deep on three sides under gazebos to protect against the thunder storm you can still smell. On the third side is the sound system and DJ playing music and chatting like he’s the host of a radio show.
Then see the people, everyone is dressed in black or black and red. A lot of the men are wearing traditional African togas. As you enter many people are sitting, lots are standing. If it weren’t for the black clothes and lack or stalls or floats you’d think it was a street party.
Entering, you circle counter clockwise shaking hands and smiling with everyone sitting in the front row. Every so often you have to dodge someone dressed even fancier dancing indront of people until they are tipped. They mostly get laughs and everyone seems happy.
As you sit down many other people are just standing up in a group to dance up to the sound system and back. This has been accompanied by a band with mostly drums and tambourines drowning out the music still bleating out from one end of the street.
People come and greet you as you sit there, smiling slightly overcome by the cacophony of sights and sounds saluting your senses, wondering just what and when something is meant to happen next.
It was a day like any other Saturday – funeral day. We passed much the same on our return but this is what a ghanaian funeral on all Hallows Eve is like. Although honestly all saints day has nothing to do with it.
Next week? Next week is funeral dag again, this time for the anniversary of the community Chief who died last year.