Coronavirus: Why Ghana has gone into mourning after mass funeral ban

A woman touching a coffin that is shaped like a rooster

Picture copyright
Getty Photos

Picture caption

Funerals in Ghana are well-known to be elaborate affairs with specifically designed coffins

In our sequence of letters from African writers, journalist and former Ghana authorities minister Elizabeth Ohene writes concerning the dramatic influence coronavirus is having on life in her nation and past.

If anybody had any doubt about simply how severe the Covid-19 outbreak is, we now have proof optimistic, we’re within the midst of an enormous disaster.

It is a disaster not measured but by how many individuals have been taken unwell, or are in hospital or have died.

Right here in Ghana, there are some issues which might be sacred in our lives and no one touches them underneath any circumstance: faith, handshakes and funerals.

These are topics that aren’t up for dialogue and many individuals imagine they outline our very existence.

Picture copyright
Getty Photos

Picture caption

Many peoples’ lives revolve round faith and the common prayer periods

For weeks, authorities and well being officers right here have been warning all people to enhance private hygiene and keep away from crowds.

Many individuals most popular to suppose that the coronavirus wouldn’t make it into sub-Saharan Africa and subsequently they believed the warnings by the well being consultants could possibly be ignored.

‘Solely enemies refuse to shake arms’

Whoever heard of a Ghanaian, certainly, an African greeting one other particular person and never shaking arms?

To refuse or ignore to shake arms with somebody implies that particular person is an enemy. Now we will not shake arms with anyone, buddy or foe.

President Nana Akufo-Addo set the tone for the brand new guidelines on the celebrations of Ghana’s 63rd independence anniversary on 6 March, when he ostentatiously saved each his arms resolutely behind his again when he arrived on the ceremony to greet these seated on the dais.

And as if the prohibition on handshaking was not traumatic sufficient, a ban has been placed on the holding of funerals. The official announcement says there will be personal burials, however no mass gatherings of mourners.

BBC

There is no such thing as a such factor as a personal burial in our pondering and funerals are enormous, dramatic and common ceremonies”

I’m not positive I can convey the enormity of this on the Ghanaian psyche.

There is no such thing as a such factor as a personal burial in our pondering and funerals are enormous, dramatic and common ceremonies.

Our lives revolve round funerals.

The catering trade depends on funerals to outlive, the textile trade wants orders for funeral cloths to remain in enterprise, the tailors and dressmakers are busy principally as a result of they make garments for funerals; choral teams, occasions organisers, transportation and producers and sellers of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks would disappear with out funerals.

However there shall be no extra funerals.

Come to consider it, what with the hand shaking ban, it is in all probability simply as nicely {that a} ban has been positioned on funerals.

We won’t have funerals and never shake arms, your complete funeral ceremony consists of shaking arms, shaking arms and shaking arms.

The ban on spiritual gatherings right here, and in some international locations elsewhere on the continent, is having a big effect on individuals for whom communal prayer and the self-discipline of the spiritual calendar are central to their lives.

However there’s silence within the mosques and within the church buildings right here in Ghana.

When the announcement was first made by the president, the Christian leaders had been shocked and the charismatic church buildings specifically had been in whole disbelief.

Miracle prayers

It was unthinkable that something or anyone may shut church providers. The all-night providers, the miracle providers, the anointing providers have taken over all our lives.

Some had hoped that the promise of miracle prayers to avoid wasting Ghana from the scourge of coronavirus would persuade the president to maintain the church buildings and mosques open, however he was not moved to vary his thoughts.

And they’ll keep closed all through Easter, essentially the most sacred competition on the Christian calendar.

Picture copyright
Getty Photos

Picture caption

For some it’s arduous to think about life with out spiritual providers

The order to shut the church buildings is popping out to be essentially the most tough one for individuals to obey.

The mainstream church buildings are complying and lots of are providing on-line providers, which embrace provisions for offertory to be made by cell cash donations.

However among the charismatic church buildings appear to suppose they’re allowed to flout the order to not maintain church providers by claiming they’re providing particular prayers towards Covid-19.

You might also be involved in:

Media playback is unsupported in your machine

Media captionCoronavirus: A father’s fears in Kenya’s crowded Kibera settlement

Going to church a number of occasions every week is regular for many individuals and the information is normally stuffed with the antics of among the so-called males of God.

The president requested the nation to quick and pray on Wednesday this week and probably, some individuals would have had problem accepting that they might quick and pray by themselves at house with out going to church.

From right here, we keenly comply with all of the information about how the remainder of the continent is doing with the position of faith within the march of the lethal coronavirus.

President John Magufuli

Getty Photos

Coronavirus is a satan, it can’t stay within the physique of Christ, it can burn immediately. It is a time to construct our religion”

I’ve little doubt that the strategy of Tanzanian President John Magufuli can be cited by some individuals right here as price following.

He has banned public gatherings and closed faculties as we have now, however he stated he didn’t ban church or mosque worship as a result of these had been locations the place “true therapeutic” happened.

“Coronavirus is a satan, it can’t stay within the physique of Christ, it can burn immediately. It is a time to construct our religion,” President Magufuli, who has a PhD in chemistry and is a religious Catholic, stated at a church service final Sunday.

President Akufo-Addo has urged us to hunt the face of God and pray for Ghana however he’s sticking to the science and emphasising the washing of arms, social distancing and the church buildings and mosques stay closed.

Picture copyright
Getty Photos

Picture caption

The Zion Christian Church’s Easter gathering usually attracts a whole lot of 1000’s of worshippers

It’s now getting by to many individuals that we’re in lethal uncharted territory when the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), in all probability the most important church in southern Africa, introduced it had postponed all gatherings together with their Easter service.

This service usually attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, who congregate on the foothills of the Moria Mountain in Limpopo in the course of the Easter weekend, and there certainly can’t be a extra dramatic spectacle.

By no means, within the historical past of the ZCC, since its inception in 1910, has the church postponed or cancelled its pilgrimage.

We won’t shake arms, we will not have funerals, we will not go to worship on the mosque or the church, the ZCC has postponed its Easter pilgrimage; we’re within the midst of an emergency alright.

Extra Letters from Africa

Observe us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Fb at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *