Sunday, September 1, 2013


Over this past weekend I was invited to a funeral. I, in no way, knew the deceased, or even how the person inviting me to the funeral was related, but I went along anyway. A Togolese funeral is different from an American one in just about every way possible. A Togolese funeral is characterized by dancing, bright fabrics, singing, and a huge party. Similarities include many people, often from far away. Joining together to remember the deceased.

Being white, it's often that I become a guest of honor by showing up; chairs are found, in the front row no less, even among the most crowded venues, I'm served first, and huge portions, etc. So Caitlin and I were given front row seats to the show.

A griot or historian/ storyteller informed the crowd about the person's life and the family that was gathered to celebrate them. At least that's what I think they were saying, as it was all in Ewe, so I didn't understand it.

The ceremony was a cycle of the griot singing/speaking, everyone coming up front to dance, and the pounding drums. After a few cycles of this, we retreated back to one of the family's homes for a meal including two different main dishes, soft drinks and alcohol.

An interesting aspect of the funeral, which costs a lot to put on was that at the end, everyone contributed money, which was all recorded I a notebook, one by one as people gave their contribution amount was shouted to the crowd and the family would respond “thank you!”

These village celebration will become routine before too long for me, but for now they are still new and exciting and certainly a part of Togolese culture worth sharing with you guys! 

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