DEATH: The Commodity That Never Fails


Internet sensations?

Ghana never seems to run out of them. There’s one born every minute, apparently: from ‘Rashida Black Beauty’ and her relationship issues to ‘Supa’ and his missing front teeth, an aspiring assembly member’s curious ways to a Takoradi-based cabbie’s hilarious spin on the English language.

Before long, however, most max out on whatever credit shot them to fame and wither in the limelight — partly because, well, their capital wasn’t sustainable, and partly because there is, as stated at the outset, always another sensation coming through.

The latest, though, is no mere individual riding a fleeting wave. You might have seen them around: a group of young men — suited, booted, capped, gloved, and bespectacled — going about their work as pall-bearers and making quite a show of it.

Famous dancing pallbearer Aidoo: I'm fan of Messi & want to dance ...

Now, what they do — so passionately, I must add — isn’t out of place. In our part of the world, where funerals are anything but somber occasions for mourning the dead, there is always room for extra buzz, even on the literal journey to the deceased’s final resting-place.

And that’s where these ‘professional’ pall-bearers, led by Benjamin Aidoo, come in.

“Do you want it solemn or you want a bit [of a] display,” Aidoo, speaking to the BBC in 2017, asks of clients.

Most, unsurprisingly, go for the whole nine yards, complete with brass band music and well-coordinated choreography. The pall-bearers, granted the license, do the most to earn their fee: on their feet, palms, knees, backs, and all. It is, after all, what they’re paid to do in a country that doesn’t offer many prospects to the younger, job-seeking population.

“Benjamin has created more than 100 jobs for young men and women,” says the BBC, and the interviewee adds that “it’s his way of easing high unemployment levels in Ghana.”

If so, he couldn’t have been more strategic. Yet if, as one might suspect, a quest for popularity also motivates his troupe’s fancy work, he’s still on the right path. See, few currencies are as enduring and widely embraced as misfortune — death, particularly, as its inevitability ensures that we always make room for it.

Especially now, with an alarmed world counting ever-rising numbers of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and the frightening death toll each day, the subject remains very much on our minds. And, although most of the memes that climax with the now world-famous, EDM-assisted tragic comic videos of the overzealous pall-bearers have little to do with COVID-19 itself, it’s hardly coincidental that they’ve only gone truly viral in these viral times.

For them, then, business couldn’t get any better, even if — like most of us — they don’t get to see off the dead [in their own unique style] these days. Already, however, Aidoo is looking beyond the gloomy present, angling for an anticipated expansion.

“The popularity we have received is booming our business now. We would increase our prices after the coronavirus. For now, we have a manager in Kenya and we have a lawyer too in Kenya,” he tells Giovanni Caleb, a Ghanaian on-air personality.

And that, really, is the thing about investing in death: it never fails, even when all other commodities do.

NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH

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