The Ghanaian Night Party/Funeral

Africa, Documentary, Leprosy

Currently I’m staying next to the former ‘leprosy camp’ of Kokrum, near Cape Coast in Ghana.

To cut a long story short, thanks to the efforts of a few there is little stigma against those with (or formerly with) leprosy in this area or indeed most of Ghana. So when one of the village elders in Kokrum, who had noticeably had leprosy, died, there were a mix of people from all over who came to his funeral (that was two months later). I hasten to add he was buried shortly after he died, but it takes a while to organise a decent funeral here it seems – and they like to make sure it’s worth the wait.

Funeral attendees watch a Nigerian movie in front of the house of the man who died over two months ago. Kokrum, Ghana 2012.

When I arrived at 7.30pm as instructed, I found half the village watching a Nigerian movie. On a separate note, and in my humble opinion Nigerian movies are among the worst ever made, most people not from Africa who has seen them will probably agree with me – no offence if you like them, please feel free to express your love for them in the comment box. You will notice that in the picture the captivated audience would certainly disagree with me.

I decided to make some long exposures to an interesting effect. I thought it especially worked well in the below pictures where a long exposure on a tripod was complimented by the flash photographs my local friend and guide Ato ‘Patrick’ Davies was taking with my backup camera which I lent to him.

Younger attendees at the funeral dance the night away to loud African hip-hop. Kokrum, Ghana 2012.

So yes, the other half was dancing the night away next to massive speakers by four erected canopies. Several people were already quite drunk from locally made cane spirit. Apparently this is all quite normal for funerals in Ghana. Perhaps the rest of West Africa too… it’s not something I’ve picked up on before.

A tired young girl rests in a chair towards the end of the evenings festivities. Kokrum, Ghana 2012.

The funeral continued late into the early hours of the morning and was resumed before midday. There was still loud music and dancing, but there were also eulogies and what I assumed was the reading of the will. Almost everyone in the village was left something it seemed. Unfortunately the fortune was spread thin and most people received around 4 cedis (about $2.30) each. Even for Ghanaians this isn’t a huge amount. Enough for a couple of meals I guess. Every little helps!

RIP Teacher Nyarko.

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