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In the western world, memorial services are rarely considered to be social events. In fact, the number of individuals who attend memorial services is, usually, low. People avoid attending memorial services due to work commitments among other pressing engagements. With the Ghanaian traditions, this is different. Individuals attend memorials for people whom they have little connection with, and one may attend even without an invitation from the organizers and/or family members. In Ghana, memorial services are important social events which are, therefore, attended by a large number of people. Individuals feel obliged to attend. During these occasions, people dresses specifically in black or, at times, in red and black (Salm & Falola, 2002).
During these occasions, every piece of traditional costume has got its meaning. For instance, supporters wear black while the close relatives go for red. In Ghana, it is common for a person to send a proxy should it be impossible to attend. These events are procedurally organized, and there is a process which defines the exercise from its commencement to the end. For instance, while several other societies bury their dead within a week, the Ghanaian traditions allow for a delayed ceremony. The burial and memorial ceremonies may be extended for a year to allow as many relatives and friends as possible to attend. The ceremonies are guided by traditions, cultural practices, and beliefs which are unique in this part of the world (Salm & Falola, 2002).
Upon arrival at the memorial service, there are several practices to be observed including approaching the head relatives and shaking hands. Then people queue to donate towards funeral expenses, and are issued with receipts. The list of donations is forwarded to the announcer, and he reads loudly all the donations that has been made. By donating, individuals are accepted into the process. The occasions are graced by village chiefs who wear cloth bands around their heads. The chiefs are also shaded with umbrellas and have people fanning them, even when they are sited under the shade (Witte, 2001).
Besides the handshakes, there are boy dancers who dance for those arriving. These boys are, usually, given some token, a position of which is given to the drum group. There are also lines of girls who are seen balancing gift baskets on their heads. Usually, Muslim groups have their own colorful costumes and drum groups. Young people are aggregated around the main procession area, and, in most instances, teenage girls are separated from the boys. Children are seen playing games with bottle tops, and those who prefer to stay behind the main congregation, dance along as the music is played (Witte, 2001). In several Ghanaian memorial services, drinks, including alcohol, are offered, and as parties develop, there is lots of dating. Could be these are some of the reasons why the memorial drags on for a year or more.