- Camera: Nikon D40
- Aperture: f/10
- Exposure: 1/400th
- Focal: 28mm
- Camera: Samsung SCH-I545
- Aperture: f/2.2
- Exposure: 1/1124th
- Focal: 4mm
a picture of me, Mercedes, with the big ol’ juice box, Frutelli
I had decided we would take a picture together from the first day I drove past it in Ghana. I couldn’t leave until I fulfilled this dream.
Our final rap/poetry class at our volunteer site!!! The students were so excited to record in the studio :)
- Camera: Samsung DV150F/DV151F/DV155F
- Aperture: f/3.2
- Exposure: 1/45th
- Focal: 7mm
My friend Chris and I went to the Volta region this weekend to stay with his drum teacher in the village he grew up in and to go to a local funeral. After a long Tro-Tro ride we arrived late Friday night in a small compound of huts. Chris’s teacher, Johnson, gave us each some fufu and a shot of local Gin, gave us two small mats and sent us to bed in a little hut next to his. In the morning over a breakfast of boiled yam and egg stew we asked him, “So what time is the funeral?” He just looked at us and said “I don’t know, I wasn’t invited to one. I am just sure somebody has is having a funeral, so we will go find one and ask if we can join in.”
This alone was baffling to us seeing as in America you would never just walk in to somebodies funeral you didn’t know. But we had no choice except to follow Johnson’s lead.
After wandering around the village and listening to Johnson speak in a language we didn’t understand a word of to pretty much every person we passed we found out there were three funerals happening in the local town that Saturday. We were going to go to each location and hope to find one that we would be invited to stay at. Chris and I were again, confused, constantly sharing eye contact mentally saying to each other “What the hell is going on??” But we had no choice except for to trust Johnson.
We arrived at the first location, and the funeral was already over. The second location, and they had already ended the festivities and begun the burial, finally we came to the third funeral location and thankfully they were still celebrating. At first we stood on the outskirts, Johnson said we had to wait to be invited inside. After about ten minutes an old man came over to us and invited us to sit with the elders. We watched as members of the community danced, sang, and played drums. It was hard to believe we were at a funeral because everyone seemed so full of joy. In Ghana, a traditional funeral is a big party- massively different from the ceremonies that take place in the Western World. At one point Chris turned to me and whispered “Its hard to believe somebody has died… someone here’s friend or mother or brother or daughter had just passed away and I see not a single tear in this crowd of people.”
All of a sudden I was grabbed by a group of women, before being able to ask what was going on I was dragged in to a hut near by, the women stripped off all my clothes and dressed me in vibrant African cloth- none of them spoke English, again, I had no choice but to just go with the flow- let whatever was happening, just happen. After they dressed me they pulled me in to the center of the dance floor which was a wide open dirt space filled with men and women dancing barefoot, everybody began dancing with me, expecting me to follow their traditional moves. I looked behind me and there was Chris, he had been dragged away as well and was now also dressed in a full Ghanian outfit.
When the dancing was over we were pulled in to a dark room filled with elders where they were praying for the person who died (I never learned this person’s name, I am sure it was said, but it was all in a different language so I was pretty clueless as to what was going on) The chief performed a libation (a traditional way of communicating with the ancestors where you pour liquor on the ground for the spirits to drink, and then take a sip yourself.) Then, a bottle of gin was passed around and we were all expected to perform this same ritual.
After the funeral we left and went back to the compound where Johnson left. Chris and I were exhausted but both agreed the funeral was an unforgettable, life-changing experience.
The whole weekend was truly a test of my patience and willingness to accept whatever was thrown at me.
In acting class we are always told to say “Yes, And…” when thrown something unexpected on stage. This has always been a difficult concept for me to master. This weekend I learned to bring this same ideology to the table when experiencing daily life, when something is thrown at you that is strange, foreign, scary, and sometimes even uncomfortable the best approach is to always go with it to say, YES!…AND? What else!?
Transportation to visit the Diviners in Tamale
During our Northern Ghana trip we visited a single women’s weaving group in Bolgatanga. These women weave baskets to support themselves and stand up against harmful traditional practices in Ghana. They are truly inspirational and were excited to have us visit!