On Going Away and Extended Relatives

The never-ending obligation to attend (extended) family functions in Ghana is taking me away from my home in Accra for a few days.  Somebody please let me know if there are benefits to being an only child in my country.  The extended family thing is one of the hallmarks of African culture, I know.  Believe me, I know.  But shoot me already; I’m ready to go all nuclear.  This time, I’m to attend the funeral of the father of a close cousin. Well actually, the funeral of the husband of my grandmother’s sister’s daughter. Yeah, extended. All this in kinship reciprocity, because said cousin was really helpful during my planning and execution of my grandmother’s funeral.  Yep, I used the words “planning” and “execution”.  One day, I will post about the insanity of Ghanaian funerals.

To top it off, I will not have adequate access to the internet in Enyan Denkyira in the Central Region of Ghana. Broadband service is not available and connecting through the mobile providers is such a hassle and is very slow when you do get on the internet. Oh, another issue I don’t get.  Whenever there is a conference on IT in Ghana, the theme is something like:  “Harnessing  ICT for development and …(take your pick of education, tourism, agriculture or my mother calling me to ask me if I’ve called the Electricity Company of Ghana to report that her lights are off)”.  How can we harness (you’d be mistaken if you thought the planners read Cowboy literature) whatever when access is not prevalent.  How about talking about increasing access and IT infrastructural development?   You know, there are certain words that one uses, and uses often, only when you live and work in Africa.  But that is another post entirely.

Meanwhile, my mother and I will be walking into major drama at this funeral since ‘poor widow’ and her children have escalated a minor argument into a major conflict that might just require the intervention of the unwanted US military African Command (AFRICOM).  This feud has been raging while the patriarch lies in the mortuary. In the mortuary for seven months.  The sheer madness of funerals in Ghana.

There is only one benefit to this trip; my five year old will get to play with lots and lots of children his age.  Which translates into freedom, generous moments of silence and peace for me.  I can’t sneeze at that. By the way, I just want to say that my people in the Central Region of Ghana are contributing handsomely to the growth in global population.  Because putting contraception into the hands of women simply does not work if your country is weak in the development of women thing.  Apparently, Ghana’s economy is among the fastest growing in the world.  But you would not know it by the number of children that we are birthing in the Central Region.  Mind you, we also have a raging maternal mortality epidemic so I hope you can appreciate how hard we are working to help the world reach the next 8 billion.  To be pregnant, to have lots of children is fashionable.  No, no.  It’s actually employment. Because there are few options for most girls after they inevitably fail their final secondary school examinations. Inevitable because education in the rural areas of Ghana just sucks.  The government schools basically babysit children.  But that’s another post.

So see you on Sunday.  There might be a pre-scheduled post or two. If not, then I was dreaming and imagining a more efficient Kinna as usual.   A reminder that Ghanaian Literature Week begins on Monday, November 14th.

Enjoy your reading!

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14 comments

  1. I have a big family as well at home but don’t see them all as much. And funerals aren’t nearly the production they seem to be there I don’t think! I hope it went alright and AFRICOM didn’t need to be called in 😉

    On the internet situation, you are right, the language is so different when it is talked about there as opposed to here I think! Unfortunate about the lack of infrastructure, do they have any plan in place to update it / further coverage area? I’m currently doing without cell service as my provider apparently chose not to provide coverage to the remote town I am in, and it is so frustrating. I cannot imagine having no internet either!

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  2. I like to be in and out of the nuclear family, mostly in a small nuclear than out. It can be fun once in awhile, but like you if it goes on too long it becomes a chore! Have fun anyway Kinna. 🙂

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  3. Oh dear, it all sounds as if family obligations are the last straw, made worse by the prospect of being out-of-touch with your global ‘family’ (i.e. us, your devoted readers). I hope that it turns out to be not as bad as you predict, and that you come back soon to us.
    Warm wishes
    Lisa

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  4. I’m from one of those nuclear families and like a lot of them, it exploded a long time ago, leaving us – as just individuals with no reason to connect. So we’re like the inhabitants of a group of small islands, we wave to each other from afar & small-talk in semaphore, only really connecting when some freak or major disaster forces us together.
    Enjoy.

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  5. Wow. Just, wow. Take care and good luck with everything. Sounds like you have your hands full. I’m sorry for your and your families loss. 7 months in the mortuary? Aye carumba.

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  6. Sorry to hear about all these frustrations. Learned a lot just from this short post, though! I actually spent some time in Ghana a few years ago…I have an older cousin who’s an anthropologist/musicologist and lives there, in the Volta region, half of every year and takes a group of students from the US to study for weeks at a time. We attended a public funeral for some popular community member…it was really interesting, but of course we were spared the madness of preparation and all that must have gone on behind the scenes! Would love to know more about it. A shame to hear there’s about to be one in your family; like Eva, I hope it goes smoothly.

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  7. Aww: I hope it all goes smoothly Kinna! I remember the last chapter of In My Father’s House detailed the craziness around Appiah’s father’s funeral.

    I’ve got The second life of Samuel Tyne out from the library: I’ll be sure to start reading it this weekend so I can participate in Ghana lit week! 😀

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  8. Your five year old sounds quite similar to mine, Kinna. Sometimes I think I must have been mad to have another go at it (the child bearing thing). They’re lovely really. But the energy and patience required can drive anyone crazy. Why anyone would choose to breed like rats is beyond me!

    Ghanaian burials…the first inkling I had about how grand they can be and the amount of prep that goes into them…was a documentary I watched some time ago. Mind you, Nigerian burials aren’t that far behind.

    Nice to see this light side to you. Enjoyed the humour in this post. Have a lovely time as you travel and meet up with relatives.

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  9. Hahahaha…am I the only one who enjoyed the humour in this piece?? Not to mock the important points raised but I think I enjoyed this detour from strict academic discussion. Enjoy your break, Kinna. And be back soon. Looking forward to the Ghana Lit Week.

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  10. Yeah funerals. I have one to attend soon. A cousin whom I did not like that much really. And I’m not about to say why because culturally, you don’t speak ill of the dead.
    And yes, Kinna, it is actually an hounour for mothers to say that I have so many number of grandchildren, well can’t you see that Akos has so many children already? What are you waiti0ng for, your wide hips are waiting to carry a baby etc. A competition, really. So they keep the babies coming. It’s everywhere.
    IT in the rural areas? Forget it. My worry and fear is how the school children are going to learn and pass thier IT lessons with no access to IT/computers. Have a good relaxation, if you can.

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  11. You covered more grounds in this post than the Daily Graphic does in an entire day’s edition. And important ones too: Education, Gender, Health, Population, ICT, Social Issues, Traditions, etc. Funerals, oh! funerals.

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  12. Here in the Philippines we also celebrate the very extended family-to me all and all it is a blessing and can be literally a life saver in countries with few government safety nets-I will be posting for Ghana literature week.

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