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The Agogo Traditional Council has introduced sweeping measures to curb expensive funerals in the traditional area.
Among the measures are a ban on the performance of widowhood rites and the use of beer and other drinks to serve mourners.
In addition, special cloths and T-shirts cannot be used at any funeral within the traditional area, while the age-old one-week observance of the passing of a person, which in recent years has seen massive spending by bereaved families and well-wishers, must only be a family gathering from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The reforms were arrived at during a meeting of the traditional council in Agogo in the Ashanti Region last Sunday.
The meeting, which was chaired by the Omanhene of the Agogo Traditional Area, Nana Kwame Akuoko Sarpong, evaluated a month’s piloting of the reforms and arrived at the conclusion that the reforms led to a drastic cut in the cost of funerals and, therefore, were worth scaling it up across the entire traditional area.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Akyeamehene (Chief Linguist of the Omanhene), Nana Boakye Yiadom, explained that the council reached the conclusion that lavish spending had no place in the performance of funerals, especially in present times.
He said in order not to make the measures an imposition, the public was consulted, in addition to the one-month successful piloting.
Although widowhood rites have, over the years, undergone some considerable degree of reforms in the Agogo Traditional Area, and by extension the Ashanti Region, with the removal of several abuses, the financial cost involved in what remains of the old cultural practice is still unbearable to many.
It was against that background that the chief linguist said the traditional council moved to scrap the unproductive cultural practice.
With that development, ‘asiedeε’ (burial items) and ‘adekyerε’ (parading various items, including expensive drinks) during final funeral rites have been removed from the performance of funerals in the traditional area.
Nana Yiadom said most of the time, the widow or the widower was left in debt, after hiring expensive drinks and other items just to “show off” at the funeral grounds.
“It is unacceptable that many people defy their poverty to stage lavish funerals, and Nananom will no longer tolerate that,” he said.
On the abolition of drinks, Nana Yiadom said in their place, water would now be used to serve mourners at funeral grounds.
He explained that many a time, bereaved families spent so much on drinks, without recouping their expenses.
“We are doing this because we want bereaved families to cut unnecessary spending on drinks,” he said.
Special cloth & T-shirts
Other intolerable funeral costs, according to the traditional council, were incurred in the purchase of special funeral cloths and T-shirts.
Wearing special cloths and T-shirts for a funeral, in the estimation of the traditional council, had no place in current times and must be discarded.
The Akyeamehene said it was an offence for anybody to flout any of the new measures, and that offenders would be brought before the traditional council to answer for their acts.
He said with the education and the general acceptance, indications were that the people would support the council to ensure sanity in the system.