In Ghana, many homeless live a whole life among the dead in the cemetery

A Burial Ground In Accra A burial ground in Accra

Fri, 6 Aug 2021 Source: Joel Savage

How did the homeless Ghanaians, both the young and fully grown-up men, end up living with the dead together in the cemetery?

The high rate of unemployment, hardships, and family problems, has forced many people, without a roof over their heads, to be living among the dead in some cemeteries in Accra.

It sounds like a fairy tale but I spoke with a number of these young men who live, sleep and earn their living in the Osu cemetery in Accra. Even though the condition is inhuman, they are happy to be watchers over the dead to earn a living.

In Ghana, it is very difficult to live a normal life if you have no job. Your relatives can give you help for some time but when things are extremely difficult for them that care can no longer be dispensed. Feeding is difficult when having no job, let alone renting a house.

During the day, these men are actively engaging in helping those who are coming to bury their dead, by digging the graves, laying bricks, and cementing them. After those hard tasks, they earn their money to buy food.

When burials are over, to avoid the sinister activities of ghouls, that is those that feed on the dead bodies, by robbing off their burial garments, jewels, beads, ornaments, or body parts, they are paid to watch over both fresh and old graves, therefore, the cemetery has become their permanent homes.

It’s unbelievable that blocks and tiles are often stolen from old or new tombstones and sold to new grave diggers. This is one of the reasons they are paid by families, to prevent such crimes, so that certain graves will remain untouched and undisturbed.

There are times arguments or fights can erupt, when they disagree in sharing money given to them by families of the deceased, however, they live as one without interfering in anyone’s business.

In any normal life, every worker goes home after work, yet these people stay in the cemetery for another day. The question is how do they pass the night comfortably till the next day in a place there are no beds?

They have clothes and blankets to cover themselves but the hard tombstone is their bed. They choose broad tombstones able to accommodate the body and length, sweep it clean to sleep every night.

At first, you may not realize that there are people living among the dead in the cemetery until when mourners arrive with the bodies of their loved ones for burial before you will see them coming out of the cemetery to meet them, then they explain why they are there.

As a matter of fact, many Ghanaians know that there are some living beings among the dead at that place but whether the authorities know about that or not is something I can't explain.

These are some of the problems thousands of homeless people in Ghana are facing each day in a country that has so many resources to assist the suffering population, yet because of corruption and greed, they have neglected the common people.

In a country like Ghana, rich in resources, yet lacks employment, there should have been organizations, institutions, social service, NGOs, or religious missions, to assist the homeless and the unemployed. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that in the country.

This shouldn’t happen in a country rich like Ghana. It’s inhuman for people to live in such horrible conditions. This goes under the fix the country agenda, therefore, the Ghanaian government must establish offices to help people living in such unbearable inhuman conditions.

Columnist: Joel Savage