Now I have begun my blog I have so much to share. I don’t know where to begin.
Do I tell you about what Ayine said when the lights went out in Bolga?
Do I tell you about Australian Sarah who thinks she’s got it all and likes to tell us all so?
Do I tell you about how wonderful it feels when I am in the family house in Bolga?
Do I tell you how isolating it can be but how it’s never as bad as it is when I am at home in remote Australia?
Do I write about my favourite sister, Lariba, whom I just want to give a big hug to for everything she is but who would feel funny about that because it’s not anything she’s used to?
Do I tell you about all my sons and daughters and how at the age of 35 I am already a grandmother and proud of it?
Do I tell you how I got to name my most recent granddaughter to my dearest son, aged 30?
Where do I start?
Do I start with Baba’s recent death and how awful it feels to not be there with the hundreds and hundreds of people that gathered to pay him respects and send him off?
Yes, I think that is a good place to begin because it demonstrates the complete connectedness that is life and family in Ghana and why I love it so much. I will write about that….
We travelled back to Ghana this Christmas and New Year and saw my father in the house. He said for the first time ever his strength was failing him. Two weeks after we left his last age-mate passed away and he then decided it was time to go. He told everyone to prepare and they all laughed it off and told him he’d be around to name his grandchildren yet. A day and a half later his eyes closed for good, sitting on the hospital waiting room chair, not prepared to see a doctor for something so simple as – the choice to die.
The power of this choice and it’s outcome is amazing to me. Isn’t this what Buddhist monks do? This simple life that my father led allowed him to make a choice and fulfill it serenely. What a man!
Baba’s death meant my husband had to turn around and head straight back home.
Baba’s funeral is still going on and when it’s finished would’ve gone over a week and a half. People gathered at the family house from all over the country. We are the only ones from overseas. Hundreds and hundreds of them. In Frafra culture children are buried the next day and the older someone’s life is means the more you celebrate and the more ceremonial aspects are performed. Baba was 107 years old so you can imagine how large it has been.
Musicians came, chiefs came, family came, the whole community came. Everyone came to eat, drink and speak about Baba – the man that he was. They paid repsects to him and his family. Bought t-shirts with his face on it so they could wear it and immortalise him in cotton. Animals were sacrificed, cooked and eaten and local alcohol was bought and drunk. Baba was buried in a plot across the road, behind Assemblies of God and in a grave by himself as he requested. They buried him there, walked around his grave early in the morning and many other smaller ceremonies that are taken for granted when you come from that place but are so new and interesting to me.
Baba was well-loved by everyone and respected for being the oldest man in the whole town of 70,000.
I will forever find it painful I couldn’t be there to send him off. From my end, stuck back in remote Australia, all I recieved were Skype calls from my husband about how everyone was asking him where his wife and daughter were and exclaiming dissapointment but understanding that we couldn’t turn around and come back after just leaving. We said it was work reasons. My husband also told me about how everyone was happy with the video he and I made of all Baba’s photos and a message from all of us about how we’ll miss him and how we felt when we recieved the news of his death. ‘We did well’, they all said. That made me so proud and to feel okay about my absence.
You’ll come to see throughout this blog how common that phrase is in my Ghanaian life and how although it is such a simple statement, it encompasses the world within it.
‘I did well’. 🙂