Since our arrival, we have been sipping at Ghana’s cultural magnificence, but last Wednesday, a particular instance drenched us in its beauty. Kathy and our accompanying Ghanaian friends (including the chief of a neighbouring village) brought us to a demonstration by Dagbamete’s community drumming group, which would have been a splendor in itself but we experienced the serendipity of something much greater: a post-funeral celebration of life.
It was truly humbling to bare witness to something so powerful and mesmerizingly different than what we, in the West, practice to aid us in our goodbyes. Not a tear was shed by these multiple mourners. It is an intrinsic part of Ghanaian culture to accompany death with music, and this is what we were a part of. As soon as the drumming began, many participants jumped to their feet, inviting neighbours and friends to dance with them – including us. We danced until they decided to conclude with a slightly different dance move, at which point we sat back down, or moved to a different group or instrument. Some of us even got to play axatse (a type of rattle)!
I found it incredibly moving that such an event took place and that we were there to be a part of it. To see so many people brought together by life, and by death, is nothing short than life changing. To see a community so tightly bound by friendship and the sharing of music opened my eyes to the multiple discrepancies between their culture and ours. But it is an inspiration: an inspiration to create this sense of community within my own life, even if it might not be as widespread. Even if I can contribute to such a mentality with as many as one person, I will be content.
There is so much we can learn from one another, by watching, talking, and sharing. Everyone, in some way or another, can help us grow. And they will, if only we let them.