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Why do Ghanaians spend lavishly on funerals?

Corpse Fufu This picture has gone viral on social media

Tue, 1 Aug 2017 Source: Simon Aikins

Death they say is an inevitable phenomenon. It is very painful to lose a dear one to death. Some are able to overcome the sudden shock whereas others end up with an emotional scar that would last forever.

Many are sad or confused when hit with such an untimely news not because of the loss, but how to prepare a befitting burial for the deceased. So when you see some people wailing uncontrollably, beneath it is the giant debt staring at them which they know would be difficult to surmount.

Every weekend, we witness funerals upon funerals raging from the extravagant to the modest ones. Sometimes, you are tempted to ask whether the dead is really being mourned because of the opulence associated with some funerals. From the one week celebration which is now in vogue though alien to some tribes, but people are forced to observe, expensive brochures, high-priced funeral announcements, and finally to the funeral itself.

Funerals I believe should be a solemn moment to reflect on one's life on earth and sympathize with the families of the deceased, but in our part of the world, it is a time to make merry. Some funerals metamorphosise into parties which defeats the purpose. Cartons of alcoholic beverages are made available for people to drink to stupor, loud music blurting from speakers with funeral attendees drenched in their sweat as a result of incessant dancing, varieties of dishes prepared to serve loved ones, and souvenirs given out. All these inflates the cost of the funeral.

Some think spending lavishly on funerals of loved ones is a sign of showing gratitude to the deceased for being good to them when they were alive. People buy expensive caskets which does not add any value to the corpse, engage the services of funeral homes. No wonder funeral homes business is booming. Anyway, it also offers employment opportunities for some people. It is a good reason to show gratitude, but my worry is when one has to borrow money to organize such luxurious funerals just to impress people. They end up with heaps of debts not knowing how to service such a mountainous debt. This act in turn tarnishes the image of the deceased.

It seems our society is so obsessed with funerals. You are tagged to be poor when you have a modest funeral for a loved one. Those who push for such grand events in families are the ones who do not even have the cash to pull the strings. They would not rest until they satisfy their selfish interests. What motivates them to push such suicidal ideas down the throats of others? Maybe it is to satisfy their egos or they benefit financially from such funerals.

This is the time to do away with some archaic traditions that are doing us more harm than good. I don't understand why people have to pay ambulances to convey corpses to different regions just because it is against their tradition to bury their loved ones outside their hometowns and this comes at a cost. Funeral attendees lives are even at risk. Some travel hundreds of kilometers on our unsafe roads just to attend a funeral. There have been cases where people have lost their lives through accidents as a result of attending a funeral. Burying someone in his hometown or not would not bring the deceased back to life. So why waste all the resources to get him or her to the hometown? I sometimes love my Islamic brothers who do not waste time on the dead by burying the dead in the shortest time possible devoid of any flamboyance.

Let us not put undue pressure on our purse just for only a day or two and suffer dire consequences. Life goes beyond funerals. Sometime, the deceased lives behind wives, husband, and children who need to be taken good care of after the demise of their provider. Wasting all the cash on the funeral would be detrimental. Why not invest a larger portion of the money into a fund that would cater for the needs of the dependants of the deceased?

This I think is a prudent venture than to waste the money on food and drinks for people who may necessarily not need them. Such funerals would just deplete our coffers. Moderation is the best way out in times of funerals. Anyway, who determines moderation? Let us save money and stop glorifying funerals which leave our accounts in red.

Columnist: Simon Aikins