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A costly tradition

Military Cemetary The items placed in the coffin to accompany the dead person is called 'Asiede?'

Thu, 4 Feb 2021 Source: Osei Tutu

Among the Akans, there is a belief that when a person dies he goes to another world called 'Asamando' to continue his life.

It was because of this belief that, in the past, when a chief died, people were killed as royal attendants to accompany the dead chief and to serve him in 'Asamando'.

It is based on this same belief that when a person dies, cash and some items are placed in the coffin to be used by the dead person in 'Asamando'.

The items placed in the coffin to accompany the dead person is called 'Asiede?' or 'Adesiede?' and the cash is called 'Hy?ntiade?', pronounced 'Sh?ntiade?'.

This 'Hy?ntiade?' is often a small amount of money; sometimes one or two cedis. But this is where my worry is.

As small an amount this might be it is one of the reasons why the Ghana cedi notes are always diminishing in numbers and the central bank always has to print new ones to replace them.

Let's consider a conservative figure of hundred burials per week in all the Akan areas of Ghana; here we are talking of eight out of the sixteen regions. Let's also say that for each of the burials, one cedi note is placed in the coffin for burial. We are then talking of hundred cedis per week.

If we multiply this figure by fifty-two, we are talking of some Ghc 5,200.00 getting lost from the system per year through this means alone. The actual figure could be far higher than this.

And if we add the losses through other means, then you can imagine the amount involved.

These cedi notes will always have to be replaced with new ones. No wonder Bank of Ghana spends so much in printing new notes.

In 2018 alone Bank of Ghana spent Ghc153 million in printing new cedi notes. This figure skyrocketed to Ghc312 million in 2019 and it's likely to go up again in 2020.

Tradition is important but if a particular tradition has become irrelevant and costly, we just have to say goodbye to it.

Columnist: Osei Tutu
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