Current Affairs

Ghanaian funeral lengths lead to calls for Fridays off

Some Ghanaians are citing funerals as a reason to reduce the country’s working week to four days.

Funeral ceremonies in Ghana are just as elaborate as the coffins it produces, with most featuring unlimited free drinks and party food. They also last for the best part of a weekend, and this duration is what has resulted in calls for the shortening of the working week.

“Funerals used to take up Saturday and Sunday, but now I’d say 90% of churches bury bodies on Friday as well, so people are having to take time off work to go to the service,” said Gabriel Tetteh, an online funeral planner speaking to the Guardian.

“With the pressure of having to fit in a visit to the service while working on Friday, and all weekend taken up, when you go to work on Monday you feel the pain.”

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh last week introduced a four-day working week in his country, decreeing the extra time should be used to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture.

Funerals in Ghana offer its inhabitants the greatest chance to party and socialise. When someone dies, even the most distant of relatives is sure to be in attendance. Therefore, it is no surprise that some Ghanaians feel that too much emphasis is placed on the dead and not enough on the living.

“We Ghanaians, we love funerals. If you are sick, no one has money to pay your medical bills. If you need money for school fees, no one can help you. But if you die, everyone is running to give money for your funeral – a lot of money! We love funerals too much,” said Seth Akpalu.

“In Ghana, people do spend more on the dead than the living. There are some people, when a relative is living, they wouldn’t mind. But when the person dies, they put a lot of money into it, otherwise other people will be there insulting them.”

David Dorey of MicroEnsure, a UK-based company that provides life insurance in Ghana, commented: “We estimate that the cost of funerals in Ghana often runs into thousands of dollars,” remarked.

“There is obviously this cultural thing that seems to have spiralled slightly out of control.”

Image: A coffin made by renowned Ghanaian coffin maker Paa Joe.

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