Funeral Cooking-Nkonya style

In Nkonya, Ghana,  it is decidedly less than couth to wander down main street munching peanuts from a roadside stall on the day of a funeral-anybody’s funeral.  Those in mourning, by inclusion, you too, will obviously be too upset to eat.  However, when you consider pragmatics and the obligations of hospitality, it is obvious that relatives and friends attending such an event from a distance must be fed, if discretely in homes.

We are not talking about a lunch of open-faced sandwiches, veggie platters, and baking from the local grocery store, spread out for an hour after the memorial service in the church basement by the ladies’ fellowship.

We’re talking about real food: Fufu, and kenke,  mbɔdɩ, and rice balls. We’re talking about mounds of fried fish, quantities of stew, and vats of palm nut soup, and groundnut soup, and okra soup.  We’re talking about  the logistics of sending the appropriate number of servings  to the umpteen houses where mourners of various status  have been housed, over a period of several days.   We’re talking about amassing sufficient ingredients, and firewood, hauling enough water, having enough serving bowls. And we’re talking about food that is prepared from scratch- from the farm to the table.

Women with gifts of organization and a deft hand with the spices are at a premium. And willing bodies need to be multiple.  Think threshing crews, and barn raisings and then up the number of mouths .

Recently our neighbour’s house was the main venue for the cooking for a large funeral.  And I took pictures of the kind of community endeavor fast vanishing in the West, and perhaps not even quite the same in some Ghanaian urban social strata.

Kenke balls for steaming

Kenke balls for steaming

Pounding palm kernels

Pounding palm kernels

Removing the palm kernel fibre from soup stock

Removing the palm kernel fibre from soup stock

Clean-up

Clean-up

A great story

A great story

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2 Comments »

  1. Janet said

    Tres interesant – you should put more of these anthro pieces on!

  2. adisasullivan said

    Actually, the majority of my posts are anthro pieces. Some of them deal with participant-observation in Canada though. As a cultural nomad I tend to see any culture through anthro glasses. It’s a characteristic of the breed you will recognize.

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