For my blog this week I wanted to let you in on what has been a very moving week for me. Last week was my grandmother’s funeral and in the Ashanti tradition, the family has to bring back the body to the village where she grew up if he/she died elsewhere. We therefore spent the weekend in Atwima-Kwanhoma near Kumasi in the Ashanti region, paying our respects and remembering my Grandmother’s life. My close family members and I all travelled in a convoy with the hearse on Friday from Accra which took over four hours.
It was a truly humbling experience. Over 800 people turned up to pay tribute to my grandmother and we provided breakfast, lunch and dinner for all 800 guests, so it really was a celebration of her life with everyone joining together. It really was amazing to see the traditional funeral from beginning to end because it’s something new that I have never experienced before.
So we took my grandmother’s body to the house where she grew up and then went back to my mum’s house since we had to get up at 4am for the wake. I got so emotional watching my brothers carry my grandmother’s body from the hearse to her room. Some of our extended family members wanted to pour libation upon her arrival but my mother refused because of my grandmother’s beliefs as a devout Christian. My uncle’s wife’s task was to buy parting gifts for my grandmother to be buried with. This is believed that she can still live comfortably in heaven as she did on earth. Some of the gifts included hand woven cloth, sponge to bathe with, pots and pans, etc. 12 women brought the gifts into the family home on their heads whilst we sang hymns and prayed.
We all arrived the next day in the family house not later than 4am and I finally saw my grandmother laid in state for the first time since I last visited her at the hospital. It was a very emotional time for all of us because when she was sick in the hospital we thought she would get better. The viewing took about four hours and a church service followed. I read a verse in the bible and my other brothers and sister read the tributes At about 9am we held a moving burial at my mum’s house so my grandmother will always be close by and watch over us. My mother had been strong through it all but finally broke down when she saw my brothers lower her mother’s coffin to the grave. We said our prayers and then went back to the family house where friends and family came to make the traditional donations to the family.
On Sunday we held a church service at my mum’s house until 1pm with well-wishers visiting throughout the day. I performed a traditional dance called “Adowa” m (a dance I learnt only in 2 days!) I also had the opportunity to meet all my aunts and uncles from the village for the first time and it gave us a great chance to share our stories and talk about my grandmother. I found out that she had a passion for fashion and was a stylist so now I know where I get my love for fashion from! She was also a tom boy and had motorbikes, so she was a really cool chick in her heyday. We also found a blue box of beautifully written love letters she wrote and received when she was 18 from a British lover who was once a High Commissioner in Kumasi! We were just blown away…
It was really a sad weekend saying goodbye to my dear grandmother but I leant so much about my culture and think my grandmother would have loved to see all that we did in her honor. My mum was really touched by all the support she got from friends and loved ones! To me, my grandmother is now an angel who will forever protect and guide us as she did when she was alive. We will always carry a little bit of her in all of us…
Love Menaye xxx