The upsurge of COVID-19 has certainly forced Ghanaians into discovering new ways of doing old things. As the cases begin to plateau around the world and countries start to ease restrictions, what we all keep wondering is when we will get back to normal and what normalcy will now look like.
Left with little or no choice, Ghanaians have adopted and adapted quickly, compromising on age-old traditions with regard to some rites of passage and religious festivals.
Private burials, public participation
A number of private burials have taken place in Accra in recent weeks. For some bereaved persons, this appears to be the opportunity they have been waiting for.
And now thanks to the President, they are able to cut off that annoying friend of their auntie, who insists on a culturally accepted way of doing things, or disallow that entitled distant uncle, from taking the front row at the burial service.
The avoidance of providing chairs, canopies, music, food and drinks for hundreds of people who troop to funeral grounds in the name of ‘friends and sympathisers’ should be a welcome respite. Such an opportune time to trim the excesses that we have created for ourselves in the name of culture and our unrelentless resolve to uphold our communality!
However, it seems the Ghanaian’s love for crowds is endemic. Perhaps it is therapeutic, and it helps the grieving process. That might account for putting up notices for private burial services in the newspapers and on WhatsApp statuses. As we announce private burial services, we invite the public to join online.
While we count our COVID-19 losses, organise stimulus packages, strategise on how to get back to school and work, people are getting married and being given away in marriage surreptitiously. Those keen on marrying are going ahead while those obsessed with weddings will wait.
Unlike the funerals, no notices go up. We only see beautiful pictures splashed on social media. Such couples stand no risk of losing friends who would have taken offence because the couple decided, as a result of selective amnesia, not to remember they existed, when compiling their invitation list.
For the first time in living memory, 2020 has been special in the way religious festivals have been celebrated.
A year ago, it would have been unfathomable to celebrate Easter without the usual church conventions, gospel music festivals and the unforgettable Kwahu jamboree.
Well, Easter came and went, and we contended ourselves with online services. Kwahu was sombre.
Eid ul-Fitr finally came. But it wasn’t the Eid we all knew — no public prayers, no colourful clothes lining our streets, neither did the food overflow in our neighbourhoods.
For my young Muslim friend, this year’s Eid without the usual congregational prayers and funfair is ‘CovEid’.
Amazingly, none of our famous 31st Night prophesies or proclamations warned us that 2020 would be a year of sombre Easter and CovEid!
I keep wondering when things will get back to normal. Some believe we would have to live with a ‘new normal’.
A new normal that we are in the process of constructing, as our President and other government officials make the necessary consultations.
Even though I cannot claim to know exactly how this new normal will look like, if it is anything close to what is happening now, it doesn’t seem to be that bad.
I must admit that after two months, I have gotten used to some new routines and actually enjoying them. I am a Sunday church regular.
However, I am not able to participate in weekday activities as much as I would have loved to. Over the past two months, I have participated in more Women’s Fellowship activities in my church than I did perhaps the whole of 2018 and 2019 combined.
In as much as I miss my fellow Christian brothers and sisters and look forward to reuniting with them, I cringe at the fact that even if I see them now, we cannot hug or even shake hands, and we would have to be physically-distanced, masked up and sanitised.
Source: Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
The author is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Student Affairs) of the University of Ghana. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org