Professional Mourners

These Ghanaian Women Cry at Strangers’ Funeral for Money

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Some people cry over money, while some cry for money.

The latter is exactly how you would describe the professional mourners in Ghana. Some women in the West African country show up at funerals of people they never met not to comfort the relatives the deceased has left but to cry on their behalf—all for money.

Ghanaians consider wailing as an important part of funerals. For them, the louder the wails and the cries, the more loved the deceased was. It is also an indicator of the dead’s social standing when they were still alive.

But not everyone is able to cry hard and loud when a family members passes away. For different reasons, some even find it difficult to shed a single tear. So in a society that deems mourning so important, it does not come as surprise that people are willing to hire professional mourners to cry over their relative’s death.

The number of groups of professional mourners in Ghana is increasing. Ami Dokli, leader of one of these groups, shared why and how they came up with such idea and how this setup has become popular.

Dokli, just like everyone in her team and a good number of Ghana’s professional mourners, is a widow. After their spouses died, they officially formed the group with the main purpose of helping people give their deceased relatives a proper send-off. There are those who just can’t cry at their family member’s or relative’s funeral, so Dokli and her team get hired to do that on their behalf.

It’s not easy, though. To cry over a total stranger’s passing is hard, which is why Ghana’s professional mourners ask to get paid for their service. The charge depends on the size of the funeral. The bigger it is, the bigger the fee.

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Ghana's Professional Mourners

Madam Awo Yaadonkoh, leader of a different group of mourners, said that her team and all other women like them who are hired to grieve at a stranger’s funeral can help the family of the deceased raise money from funeral attendees.

She quipped, “We are always hired by people to cry at the funeral rites of their dead relatives, friends. Some people even go to the extent of including in their will that their family members should contact us after their death. The way we professionally cry moves sympathizers to give out more money to the bereaved families. That’s the main reason people contract us.”

Yaadonkoh’s group, which is known in the area as the Kumasi Funeral Criers Association, offers different crying styles, and they let the family decide which style they’ll go with. These styles include basic crying, highly emotional crying, crying and vomiting, deep wailing and shouting, crying while rolling on the ground, crying and walking around the funeral area, crying with swag, and chipmunk crying.

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