SPECIAL NOTE: IF you think Ghanaians are Crazy spending lavishly for a coffin, think of my ancestors in China. When I was growing up in Malaysia (my grandparents migrated to Malaysia from mainland China in 1903 to escape poverty, famine, civil wars and starvation), the famous female MATCHMAKER in our village community was known to have her huge Chinese coffin sitting in a room in her house, given to her by her children, to be used when she died. In mainland China, I was told, that in ancient times, rich people would have a coffin placed somewhere in the house (they had houses, not apartments in the old days in China), usually given by their children (from 1978 until now, China insisted on one child only!!), on an important occasion like a birthday. Amy Tan was in China not long ago to do research on a new book and in the article that appeared in the National Geographic magazine, she wrote about a tradition in that part of China where children are assigned trees in the forest that would be cut down and made into a coffin for that particular child…at the time of her or his death! You could say, death is a very open subject in other parts of the world! My mother showed me her clothes that were made for her by her daughters, to be used when she died. She was very much alive then! But in Ghana, the rich people could afford an elaborate burial rituals…look at the photos above…to me that money could have been used to help the poor and needy in Ghana…but I guess when you are rich, money means nothing…I would not do it…there is a trend in America today, there are people who are making (making, I said) their own coffins, because burial costs are going up the roof because of the aging population…I remember seeing a report in France, where people would go shopping for a coffin and bring it home, ahahahaha…I prefer cremation, to save money and that money could be used to help others live a better life. I guess some people on this planet earth need to think think think, how not to waste money even in death! Because that money could be used more wisely to better this world!! Steve, usa, november 26, 2018 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com wechat 1962816801
Ghana’s fantasy coffins: Taking the final journey in style
BBC NEWS November 26, 2018
Text and photos by Fellipe Abreu and Henrique Hedler
Ghanaians take great pride in making coffins that reflect the life, dreams, passions and status of the dead.
Loved ones believe the dead should get the best possible send-off, with funerals being elaborate affairs.
Journalists Fellipe Abreu and Henrique Hedler visited two Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshops, in the capital Accra and the southern city of Kumasi, to meet the carpenters making custom-made coffins.
The shops are named after Seth Kane Kwei, who some say first designed fantasy coffins in Ghana.
With Ghana being one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, families in rural areas collect and save their hard-earned money to bury the deceased in custom-made cocoa pods.
Coffins like this can cost up to $1,000 (£780) – a huge amount for the farmers, most of whom earn less than $3 a day.
Generally, the coffin designs reflect the occupation or status of the deceased. In this case “the chilli pepper carries a symbolic meaning that goes well beyond the life of a farmer,” says workshop manager Eric Adjetey, who’s been in the business for 50 years.
The red colour and spiciness represents the personality of that person. “He was hot and temperamental, a person you don’t want to mess around with.”
Coffins in the style of a Mercedes Benz are popular – this one is for a wealthy man who owned the German-made car, and his grave will be dug to fit it.
“This is one of the most commonly used coffins. It represents the person’s high social status,” says coffin maker Steve Ansah.
Most people call the pieces of art fantasy coffins, but they are locally called Abeduu Adekai, which means “proverb boxes”.
This is because there is a symbolic meaning behind each design.
Aeroplanes are also among the popular designs. This one is for a child. It symbolizes his successful journey to the afterlife.
Sometimes community members chip in to help with the costs of making a coffin.
In recent years, the real estate sector has boomed in Ghana. This coffin is for a landlord who was widely appreciated by his community for building and renting homes to them.
“Generally, it’s the responsibility of loved ones and family members to buy the coffin for the deceased. But they also have to pay for the ceremony, including buying food and drink, and clothing for the deceased.”
“The ceremony happens from Thursday to Monday. On Thursday the family gets the coffin; on Friday the body is brought from the mortuary; on Saturday the funeral takes places, while on Sunday people go to church. On Monday family members count the money that was invested and donated,” Mr Adjetey says.
Carpenters carve the coffin, then sand it to create a uniform surface ready to be painted. A local singer will be buried in this microphone-shaped coffin.
“We don’t know the person’s size so we ask the family, or even rely on photos,” says Mr Ansah, the carpenter.
In recent years, other carpenters have started making custom-made coffins to meet the booming local demand.
The palanquin and queen is actually not a coffin, it was custom-made for an art gallery in Philadelphia in the US.
Customers in more than 20 countries have bought these coffins over the last decades.
The coffin designs have also attracted interest from woodworking students in South Korea, Russia, US and Denmark, who have come to Ghana to learn the trade.
Local carpenters often use simple handmade tools to sand the wood and carve the wood into a coffin shape.
Text and photos by Fellipe Abreu and Henrique Hedler