“You know, some people save their whole lives in order to be able to buy one of these coffins and go to the afterlife in style,” While measuring a big trunk of dark wood that in a few days time will acquire the form of a Ghana International Airlines Boeing 757-200, complete with landing gear and cockpit. “For us a funeral is just as important as a wedding, and sometimes it is as expensive too,”
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One of these creations sells from anything from $700 to $800 USD, and takes around two weeks to be ready. An inventive array of coffins can be seen: a giant crab, a bag of maize, a packet of Marlboro red, a Star-beer bottle, and a kitchen cupboard. All of these unique pieces already have an owner.
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The colorful way the Ga people of Ghana say goodbye to their loved ones is deeply rooted in their religious beliefs and it goes back generations. However, the tradition of being buried in such extravagant coffins did not become prevalent until the 1950s. “A direct result of the influences the country experienced in the years previous to its independence (achieved in 1957), especially by returning Ghanaians who went to study or work in Europe,” assures Martin Akua, a Ghanaian tourist guide based in Accra who organizes tours to different coffin-makers’ workshops in town. Some might think of coffin-making tours as macabre, but they turn out to be quite an informative and interesting cultural experience, in Martin’s owns words.
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The Ga people, one of the various ethnic groups that form the multi-cultural landscape of Ghana, live mostly in the southeastern coastal region of the country, around Accra, which they founded back in the 16th century as a trading port. Throughout West Africa, they are renowned for their funeral celebrations and processions. They believe death is not the end of life but just a continuation of man’s existence beyond the physical borders of our world.
Text from Diego Gomez Pickering, The Periscope Post
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People and Places