The short version of the story goes… For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life, and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived.
The coffins are designed to represent an aspect of the dead person’s life – such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea, or a sewing machine for a seamstress.
Or they might also symbolize the dead person’s vice, such as a bottle of beer or a cigarette.
The belief is that the coffin acts as a home in the afterlife, so it must be beautiful, although after all the effort that goes into building one of these things, it gets buried underground, and really can’t be seen and appreciated by the living. Then again, I suppose they aren’t being made for the living to appreciate necessarily.
When I die, just toss me in a big tub of peanut butter ice cream then!
A documentary film on this very subject is currently in the works, which I think is great!
Titled Paa Joe & The Lion, the feature length documentary comes from British indie filmmaker Ben Wigley, who has been working on the project for some 4 years, and is close to completing it, and needs your help to ensure that happens.
Here’s what he has to say:
A new documentary currently in production that celebrates master craftsman and fantasy coffin pioneer, Paa Joe. Paa Joe & The Lion looks at an artist at work, the highs and lows of being an artisan and keeping traditions alive. It also documents the fascinating Ga culture and examines how we look at life and death both in Ghana and around the world […] It’s been an incredible adventure and we’re so close to finishing the film. All we need now is enough money to fly back to Ghana for one last shoot before the editing begins.
Wigley hopes to raise 20,000 pounds (or about $32,000) via Kickstarter, to complete his feature documentary. Will 11 days to go in the campaign, he’s raised 44% of his goal.
To make a contribution, visit the project’s Kickstarter page HERE, or click within the widget at the bottom of this post.
First, here’s Wigley’s video pitch: