Funerals in many parts of the country, particularly the Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti, Volta, Western and Brong Ahafo regions, have become expensive social activities, but in Swedru in the Central Region the reverse is the case.
This has become possible because the Swedruman Traditional Council has enacted customary laws to regulate how funerals are organised in the area.
The laws, which came into effect in 2013, have brought relief to the residents who, for years, were overburdened with expensive funerals.
The six-page document, sealed under the authority of the Chief of Agona Swedru, Ogidigram Okrupi Nana Kobina Asiedu Botwe ll, set up a seven-member committee to manage and perform all funerals in the area and account to the bereaved families.
The customary law also prohibits the observance of one-week rites of the death of any person.
Rather, the family of the deceased is required to meet the funeral committee to agree on the day to announce the date for the funeral rites to the public.
Additionally, posters, the use of public address systems, serving of assorted food and drinks have all been abolished.
The law also prohibits sympathisers from making any donation during the one-week celebration, and those who defy the order are made to pay a penalty of GH¢500.
Conveyance of corpse
It was also observed that the manner in which corpses were conveyed from the morgue by family members to their funeral homes was not the best. Most of the vehicles in such convoys were overloaded with some drivers tooting their horns and driving recklessly on the streets with total disregard for road traffic regulations.
To forestall such misbehaviour, the council has enjoined bereaved families and their sympathisers to mourn their dead in a sober, cultured, quiet and civilised manner.
The council has also banned the serving of food, drinks, snacks (take-away) at the funeral ground and declared as an offence the practice whereby bereaved families impose dress codes on sympathisers.
The Convener of the committee that drafted the laws, Nana Kweku Essuman II, told the Daily Graphic that the laws had indeed reduced the cost of funerals in the town.
According to him, with strict adherence to the laws, all manner of individuals were able to organise their funerals decently without incurring huge debts.
Before the laws took effect, Nana Essuman said, the residents were grappling with the problem of lawlessness, especially on Fridays and the ban on those activities had ensured discipline on the streets.
“Some residents who deliberately or ignorantly breach the laws are subsequently hauled before the council and fined before they are allowed to continue with their respective funerals,” he added
Ms Hannah Quarm, a resident of Mahodwe in Swedru, told the Daily Graphic that the institution of the laws helped her to reduce the cost of her mother’s funeral about two years ago.
She commended the Swedruman Council of Chiefs for taking the bold step to help reduce the cost of funerals in the town.
A resident of Bebianiha, Nana Amoani, expressed gratitude to the chiefs for banning expensive funerals in the town as it had put an end to competition in the organisation of funerals.
He indicated that the new regulations had streamlined funeral activities in the town, stressing that it had also cut down funeral expenditures of families.
Mr Kojo Afful, a taxi driver, bemoaned the reckless driving on the streets during weekends and, therefore, welcomed the intervention by the chiefs to ensure discipline on the roads.
Ebusuapanyin Kwetu, an elder of the town, said the laws had helped to lessen the financial problem families had to grapple with in the event of losing their loved ones.