Monday, October 29, 2007


Many Ghanaians are dispatched to the hereafter in a coffin shaped like a lobster, or a chicken, or a bottle of Coca Cola

For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. Though Christian, the Ga maintain a strong tradition of animist belief that puts a special significance upon the power of symbols. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived.

The coffins are designed to represent an aspect of the dead person's life such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea, a soldier would select a gun-shaped coffin. or a sewing machine for a seamstress. They might also symbolize a vice such as bottle of beer for a heavy drinker or cigarette for a 'chimney' smoker.

An unrepentant heavy drinker has chosen to be buried inside a beer bottle

A polished uterus waits to be picked up by a gynecologist

The coffins cost between $300 and $800 in a country where many live on barely $2 a day.
The fantasy coffin says what a thousand words could not for most Ga people. A majority of the people from the Ga community are illiterate . There are no articles or magazines written about most individuals. Thus they feel that with the provision of a coffin like this, everybody who sees it will know. Buying a good coffin also offers a chance, some believe, to calm an angry spirit, who could wreak havoc from the next world.

A fitting tribute to a remarkable life

International collectors and museums pay up to US $2000 for this elaborate wood craft. The coffins take weeks to shape, sandpaper and polish so as to make the it attractive. After weeks to get the shape complete and then it is in the grave. "It is better to have it in the gallery or museum and then everyone will see it," one coffin craftsman notes.

Why be buried in a boring coffin, when you can get handmade coffins that look like a Mercedes Benz, lobster, onion, shoe, beer bottle, even a cigarette?

Even for those who are athletic, Shoe coffins are in plenty