Field Notes #3: Customs

198sm by Pat Yonka Customs of the country: During our visit to Bumboazio I learned many people were attending the funeral celebration of the head chief of an adjacent village. Widows wear white during this year of mourning and a year after an individual has died there are celebrations. Alice and I met the Imam and several other elders of the village as well as the head chief’s four wives to whom we conveyed our condolences. Children were everywhere and eager to greet the “sululminja,” the white person. The youngest children, struck by the difference in skin tone, were frightened and some cried. I moved away, hoping to diminish their fear. Many parents and others expressed a desire to learn to read and write English (the official language of Ghana). I felt a consistent desire on the part of these individuals to become literate. During the final visit of the day we talked with a family shelling ground nuts (delicious!). We were invited inside their hut to talk with the eldest son who was visiting and spoke English. He talked of the importance of family to his people and how many people in the United States seem separated from their families, making close relationships more difficult. His elderly mother was present as were other members of his family. He was saddened by the appearance of a loss of community in countries where the elderly were put in nursing homes and people spent more time in private homes than in public meeting places.

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