This blog covers the years 2014-2016 when we (the Robisons) were at the Ghana MTC. To see the blog covering the period 2016-2018 click on this link:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Sort of Box Do You Fancy?

Remember the preacher in the movie "Polyanna."  He would pound the pulpit and say "death comes unexpectedly."  Death surrounds the people in Africa. A family member becomes ill, and far too often dies.  It is on the minds of all.

Matthew Link,  a writer, editor, filmmaker, and former Editor in Chief of The Out Traveler magazine recently posted an article on his website entitled: " Living Twice in Ghana, What Sort of Box Do You Fancy?"

"Death never takes a vacation away from us. It’s tied to our feet like an arrogant shadow wherever we go, as a constant reminder of all the things we’ve left behind.And who wants to visit death on vacation? Believe it or not, a visit to Ghana’s coffin makers is on most tourists’ itineraries. 

On the dusty, honk-echoing, chicken-crossing, exhaust-fumed streets right outside of Accra, the capital of the English-speaking West African country, one tribe called the Ga is renowned for their casket masterpieces.  They come in a variety of corpse-sized styles: in the shape of fish, elephants, guns, sewing machines, pens, Bibles, guns, airplanes, cars, Coca Cola bottles, beer bottles, cacao beans, peppers, lobsters, ears of corn, cell phones, tractors, microphones, roosters, cigarettes, even replicas of stores.

Pretty much any object or thing you can think up. They are painstakingly painted, meticulously designed, and even in the face of death, strikingly lifelike.

The Ga may be a Christian tribe, but they know the primordial animist power of symbols, those immense unspoken icons that were downloaded into our DNA and created before the world was born. The Ga’s caskets are a direct, unflinching correlation to the person’s life – their work, their passions, their vices, their quirks.

Corpses are curled up or folded into these awkwardly-shaped homes of the afterlife, and the casket makers must certainly lament that their prized art is buried deep underground after so many back-breaking weeks of workmanship. It’s like a daily funeral for their own creations.

In a country where many people live on barely $2 a day, no expense is spared for the most important part of life: death.

The coffins cost between $300 and $800, and international collectors and museums snatch these symbols up for $2,000 or more for the smaller made-to-order models that can be shown off in wealthy homes.

Jimmy Carter visited Accra and bought three coffins: an eagle, a fish, and a bell pepper. (They must have been out of peanut-shaped caskets that week.)

How can something as complex and long and riddled and mysterious as a human life could be summed up in one tangible object, no matter how artistic? How do we decide what vehicle we will ride in to that other planet where our spirits decide to reside after all of this is said and done?

Life is a series of choices we don’t want to make. The hardest decision in my mind is to precisely calculate what each of us is standing for, whether we realize what that is or not."  (Read more at

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