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Ghana’s Professional Mourners Get Paid to Cry at Strangers’ Funerals

Some people find it hard to cry when their loved-ones’ die, but wailing and mourning are a big part of funerals in the African country of Ghana, as it is indicative of the deceased’ social standing or how beloved they were by their family and community. So it’s no wonder that some Ghanaians are willing to pay professional mourners to cry on their behalf.

Ami Dokli is the leader of one of the several groups of professional mourners in Ghana. In a recent interview with BBC Africa, she said that some people cannot cry at their relatives’ funerals, so they rely on her and her team to do the wailing. Dokli and the other women in her team are all widows who, after their husbands died, decided to come together to help others give their loved-ones a proper send-off to the afterlife. But crying for strangers is not the easiest thing in the world, so professional mourners charge a fee for their services, the size of which is in direct relation to the size of the funeral. If it’s a big funeral, their tears cost more.

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The Country Where Burying Someone Can Take Months Or Even Years

In most countries, people are buried within a few days of their death, but in the African country of Ghana, burials are complicated affairs that can take months or even years to prepare. In some communities, speedy burials are considered downright sacrilegious, so despite the wishes of the deceased and their immediate family, bodies spend months frozen at the morgue before finally being laid to rest.

Ghana’s lengthy funerals are closely related to the notion of family in the African country. During one’s life, their children, spouse and parents are considered immediate family, but once they are dead, their body belongs to the extended family in which they were born. In many cases this includes distant relatives that the deceased hand’t even spoken to in decades, but that makes no difference. They get a say in how, where and when the deceased is buried, and whatever instructions they left regarding this aspect, or whatever they asked their close family to do, is meaningless unless the extended family agrees to the terms.

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Ghana’s Dancing Pallbearers Send Loved Ones Off in Style

Families in Ghana are increasingly turning to troupes of dancing pallbearers to send their loved ones off in style, and bring some joy to what is usually perceived as a very sad event.

Dancing pallbearers not only lift the casket at a funeral, they also lift the mood of attendees by putting on a show. They parade the casket on their backs and shoulders, while at the same time executing a complex choreography that often involves spinning around, dropping to the ground and even pretending to drop the casket, all to the delight of the audience. It’s definitely an unusual display, but families in Ghana are increasingly paying for the services of such troupes to give their loved-ones an upbeat send-off.

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Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana Shut Down after Operating for a Decade

Authorities in Ghana have recently shut down a fake United States embassy in the capital Accra that had been issuing illegally-obtained but authentic visas for the last 10 years. The fake institution was being run by members of organized crime from both Ghana and Turkey.

The real U.S. embassy in Acra is a large office building complete with security fencing and U.S. military guards, located in one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, while the fake one was just a rundown, pink two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and a United States flag flown outside. There were no actual Americans working there, not even con artists. Instead the staff was made up of English-speaking Ghanian and Turkish citizens. And yet, for 10 years, the organized crime ring operating this fake embassy was able to convince people to pay thousands of dollars for visas and false identification documents. Maybe it was the portrait of Barrack Obama that police found inside that made the place seem legit.

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Ghana’s Hilariously Awful Hand-Drawn Movie Posters

The West African nation of Ghana is home to a subculture of artists who create outlandish versions of popular Hollywood movie posters. The art form was at its peak in the nation during the 1980s and 1990s, commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Age of Movie Posters’. During this time, artists would let their imagination run wild in order to create posters that would never fail to draw audiences to Africa’s dilapidated cinema halls. So they used their artistic license to add weapons, scenes and characters that didn’t even exist in the original movie!

The art form began to lose momentum in the 2000s, when Ghanaians purchased their own TVs and VCRs, causing several movie houses to close down. But over time, the lurid hand-painted posters have only increased in value. In fact, several Western art collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars for them. Some of the artists who have been out of work for several years are now finding a new lease of life in reproducing posters of more recent movies for art aficionados.

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This Is What They Call Coffins in Ghana

These are the famous “fantasy coffins” used by the Ga Tribe, on the coast of Ghana to both mourn and celebrate the death of a beloved family member or friend.

The tradition of burying people in strangely-shaped coffins began roughly 50 years ago when a fisherman was set to rest in a funeral casket shaped like a fish. Ever since then photographers have been buried in camera-shaped coffins, people who like to drink in caskets shaped like beer bottles and avid smokers, you guessed it, in cigarette-like wooden coffins.

Families of the deceased spend enormous amounts of cash on these intricate caskets, sometimes even as much as $600. Sure, that may not seem like a lot to you, but in a country where the average income is somewhere around $50/month that’s a lot of money. The wealthier relatives usually put up  the most part of the sum with the rest of the families providing the rest.

The coffins of the Ga tribe symbolize the essence of the deceased, his profession, a vice or his place in the community.

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