Filmed in black-and-white, a young man looks into the distance. In Ghana, the palm trees and ocean settle on the clear day as Efua Essumabanba reads parts of the poem “Kae (Remember)” written by Kwado Nikita-Mayala.
The excerpt she reads “My people, do you know what time we are in now” as gravestones stand in the field. A flag waves as she continues to say that “it’s time to remember my people.”
A person steps on the ground as she explains that people live with their minds focused on something else and not appreciating those who we are supposed to love. She asks people to “let us rise and remember” while the ocean laps up the shore.
Carrying water, the family enters the area for the memorial. On the wall hangs a framed photo of the family matriarch. A woman holds her hands in prayer. A young woman lets the water from the bottle fall onto the ground. An older woman grieves in private.
By the car, the family carries bowls and possessions. They walk along the car during the procession. The camera crawls through the field, getting close to a cross in the ground. A little boy looks up.
A woman kicks up sand. Some family members begin to dance. A man stands in the center, saying an eulogy. People wait in line outside, waiting. The guests clap and smile. Inside the home, an older woman, contemplates her life. Through the brick and back to the eulogy, the man raises his hand up, which other people follow.
After the eulogy, the party starts. People start to dance.
On the river, a boat burns as Essumabanba reads “remember to hold onto that which holds you up. Do not give it away.”
In the house, a baby sleeps while she says “sing a new song.”
According to the New York Times, the Ghanaian people view funerals as a festive occasion, a chance for everyone to get together, family and strangers alike. They are social affairs which one cannot miss.
The video, though, chooses to pick up on the traditional American emotions regarding death: people in the corner mourning, the oldest person left in the family wondering when her time is near, a eulogy about the person. While the party does exist in the video, it’s a quiet and ritualistic. The person’s coffin, which is an important detail, is not even seen.
Despite it being filmed in Ghana, the video still Americanizes the atmosphere to the point that it’s a culture shock to read different accounts reported by other sources. Leaving out the celebration is condescending to both the Ghanaians and Americans. It shames the Ghanians culture, seeing it as a taboo and believes that Americans would get the wrong impression, fearing controversy. Cultural misrepresentation to fit another country’s point of view is as horrible as cultural appropriation, with the root problem being superiority.
Director: Sam Piling Year: 2016
This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from items purchased through them