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.

Photo: BBC video screengrab

Professional mourning is just one small part of the extravagance associated with Ghanaian funerals. People in this African country will spend as much if not more on a funeral as they would on a wedding. A funeral planner told CNN that the average funeral should cost between $15,000-$20,000, and should feature as many mourners as possible. These big social events are preceded by obligatory giant billboards that announce funeral arrangements, and sometimes feature artistic coffins shaped as something reminiscent of the deceased, and even dancing pallbearers.

According to Madam Awo Yaadonkoh, the leader of the Kumasi Funeral Criers Association, another group of talented criers-for hire in Ghana, professional mourners can help the family of the deceased raise more money from funeral participants.

“We are always hired by people to cry at the funeral rites of their dead relatives,friends, some people even go to the extent of including in their will that their family members should contact us after their death,” Yaadonkoh told Otownloaded. “The way we professionally cry moves sympathizers to give out more money to the bereaved families. That’s the main reason people contract us.”

Interestingly enough, some of these professional mourners charge by the style of crying that the customer is interested in. Here’s the list of crying styles offered by Kumasi Funeral Criers Association: crying with swagg, deep wailing and shouting, crying and rolling on the ground, crying and walking at funeral ground, highly emotional crying, basic crying, crying and vomiting, chipmunk crying. That last one sounds interesting…

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