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

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

In our collection of letters from African writers, journalist and former Ghana authorities minister Elizabeth Ohene writes in regards to the dramatic impression 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.

This can be a disaster not measured but by how many individuals have been taken sick, or are in hospital or have died.

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

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

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

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

Many individuals most well-liked to assume that the coronavirus wouldn’t make it into sub-Saharan Africa and due to this fact they believed the warnings by the well being specialists may very well be ignored.

‘Solely enemies refuse to shake arms’

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

To refuse or ignore to shake arms with somebody signifies that individual is an enemy. Now we will not shake arms with anyone, pal 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 could be personal burials, however no mass gatherings of mourners.

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There isn’t a such factor as a non-public 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 isn’t a such factor as a non-public 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 largely 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 might be no extra funerals.

Come to think about it, what with the hand shaking ban, it is in all probability simply as properly ban has been positioned on funerals.

We will not 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 nations elsewhere on the continent, is having a huge impact 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 surprised and the charismatic church buildings specifically had been in complete disbelief.

Miracle prayers

It was unthinkable that something or anyone may shut church companies. The all-night companies, the miracle companies, the anointing companies 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’re going to keep closed all through Easter, essentially the most sacred competition on the Christian calendar.

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For some it’s laborious to think about life with out spiritual companies

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

The mainstream church buildings are complying and lots of are providing on-line companies, which embody provisions for offertory to be made via cellular cash donations.

However a few of the charismatic church buildings appear to assume they’re allowed to flout the order to not maintain church companies by claiming they’re providing particular prayers towards Covid-19.

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Going to church a number of instances per week is regular for many individuals and the information is often filled with the antics of a few of the so-called males of God.

The president requested the nation to quick and pray on Wednesday this week and likely, some individuals would have had issue accepting that they might quick and pray by themselves at dwelling 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.

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Coronavirus is a satan, it can’t dwell within the physique of Christ, it’s going to burn immediately. This can be a time to construct our religion”

I’ve little question that the method of Tanzanian President John Magufuli could be cited by some individuals right here as price following.

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

“Coronavirus is a satan, it can’t dwell within the physique of Christ, it’s going to burn immediately. This can be 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.

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The Zion Christian Church’s Easter gathering usually attracts tons of of 1000’s of worshippers

It’s now getting via 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 absolutely 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 will not 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.

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