Culture shock is described as the feelings one experiences after leaving their familiar home, culture or social environment.
We will be starting this culture shock series with Ghana.
Here are 4 weird Ghanaian Traditions you probably never heard of
I did not know the death of a person; both young and old is something to be treated as a carnival until I schooled in Ghana. Ghanaians use posters and large billboards to advertise the passing on likewise funeral arrangements and announcements that usually have the following headlines; “What a Shock”, “Why???”, “Life Is So Unfair”, “So Shocking”, etc. The celebration of the death of a Ghanaian usually lasts three days. It starts on a Friday and ends on a Sunday in church.
The traditional funeral colors are red and black in Ghana. Mourners come in their large numbers dressed in black, red or black and red attires. I also learned that one can be paid to be a sympathizer at a funeral. The price to be paid depends on how well the sympathizer cries and wail.
That is, the more dramatic, the higher the pay. I must say, that’s a good profession for someone like me.
There’s also a craze for fantasy coffins. Apparently, it didn’t start years ago but have been a part of the Ghanian people’s traditional burial rites.
They are caskets that are designed and put in the shape of different things; mostly animals and objects. I have seen and heard that of a fish, cars, shoes, and a lion…the list is endless. These coffins are of course chosen and designed by the bereaved based on what the dead admired or did as a profession or a hobby.
It’s ironical that a Ghanian wedding is usually not as extravagant as funerals and nothing like Nigerian wedding. I go to weddings for the excess food I get to eat and also bring home to last me a day or two. That’s not something I can do in a Ghanaian wedding brunch party.
Some weddings will offer buffet services while the rest share snacks and drink. You don’t get to eat to your heart content. So, if you will be attending a Ghanaian wedding, its better you do so because you are really close to the couple and would like to be part of their big day.
On the brighter side, it’s the marriage that’s important, not the wedding because at the end of the day the couple will be on their own.
Nobody wants to go home to Garri and debts. I lie, many couples have taken loans to have a wedding that will break the internet. These ones didn’t mind going home to feed on air.
It is true Africans are very respectful and our elders see a whole lot of things as disrespect; even the unnecessary ones. The left hand is as useless as useless can be. You can’t give or take anything with the left hand, but in Ghana, it is more useless. I was in the taxi and wanted to give the driver directions. It’s quite easy to use your left hand to indicate you’re going left and right for right (Did you just try it?). I was going left, so I used my left and to give direction; you don’t want to know what happened next. He went on and on talking about respect and how he has my type at home. I was bewildered and started thinking about my life when I got home.
The experience also helped me caution my left-handed friend: who practically does everything with the left hand so as to avoid future disaster (she is the disaster with a foul mouth).
Just because you’ve never come across a certain tradition (preferably those which does not infringe on human rights), does not necessarily mean that the culture is unacceptable or weird. You just never knew about it.
Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.
Credit: Aramide Ajose