Ghana’s major cemeteries are full, citizens urged to opt for cremation

We have to die one day and there is no way avoiding that, but some people in Africa appear to be giving a thought about how they want to be buried.

In Ghana like many African countries, people are buried the traditional way of laying the body in a grave with a coffin. However there is an emerging crave by some to have their bodies burnt or cremated.

Africa Feeds visit to Ghana revealed that weekends are critical for families burying deceased relations.

For some of the dead, whether rich or poor, they had a say in how their funerals were organized, who should attend and where they should be buried.

Traditional like in other African countries people are buried in a grave at a cemetery with a coffin, but this is beginning to change gradually in Ghana.

Asiedu Mante is a former deputy governor of Ghana’s central bank, he is 75 years and has instructed his family to cremate him when he dies. He explains why this is the best way to go.

“The soul in you is like light, now it has dwelled in this body for 75 like I am 75 years now. If you are very prayerful and very religious, you attract a lot of light so part of that light gets imprisoned in the physical body. The quickest way of releasing that light is to set the body to fire,” he said

It was rare to find people like Asiedu Mante in Ghana a decade ago wishing to be cremated when they die. Godfred Otu is master of cremator at Ghana’s biggest crematorium at the Lashibi funeral home. He said that the desire to be cremated is gathering pace among a group of Ghanaians not only because of religious reasons.

“It’s gradually picking up because one, there is no space, for burial, two, the perception that it was meant for a particular section of religion or sect of religion is now being gradually eroding away.”

The issue of lack of space at the various cemeteries as mentioned by Godfred is critical in this emerging crave for cremation.

At Ghana’s biggest cemetery in Accra, the Awodome burial ground, the entire ground is full and hardly will you see a space available to be dug out for new burials. Nii Arte Anum is a Grave digger; here and confirmed that there are challenges in securing spaces for burial.

Nii said “They bury somebody in the 50s and 60s, that time if they bury they don’t do anything on it so if its ten years, fifteen years the thing has lost. But now we are doing tombstones and it makes the place full.”

Advocates of cremation like Godfred Otu said such challenges in securing spaces for burial as well as cost of burying the Ghanaian traditional way makes the argument for cremation stronger.

“Compared to burial cremation is cheap, a normal burial service, you need to pay a volt fee, you need to buy a casket, you need to pay the sexton at the cemetery to dig and tile the place. You do the epitaph then you need to have tomb stone over the grave.”

Funeral homes in Ghana have said that it will cost about 5 thousand dollars to organize traditional Ghanaian funerals compared to about 2 thousand dollars for cremation. The Ghana Cremation Society said its biggest challenge is the opposition to the establishment of crematoriums across the country.  Victoria Boi-Doku is with the society and said “Our districts are denying us plots in the cemeteries to build crematoriums. So under normal circumstances if each cemetery could have a space, for cremation it would have been a service to the nation.”

Not all Ghanaians are waking up to this call for cremation to save Ghana’s cemeteries. Africa Feeds asked 35 year old public sector worker, Douglas Agyeman Kusi if he wishes to be cremated. He answered “Not at all, I won’t even consider it, I feel it is not dignify enough because as a human being when you die, your family must at least see your remains, and then lay it to rest. Even Jesus Christ was laid to rest. He was never burnt.”

The Ghana Cremation Society said a lot of education is needed to change attitudes towards cremation, but surely that won’t be an easy task though.

 

 

Source: Africafeeds.com / Isaac Kaledzi

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