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Guns, Drums and a Dancing Horse!

The sound of traditional Ghanaian guns is phenomenal. Used as part of their funeral ceremonies, they literally shake the earth with their power. You would expect such a sound to come from something much larger than a rifle, but the sound is true, and it left my ear temporarily deaf. Today, I was fortunate to experience a traditional Ghanaian funeral. Unlike Europe, funerals in Ghana are a time of joy, with music, drumming and dancing from dusk until dawn.

I arrived to feel the shake of the rifles, loaded with gunpowder, and to see large crowds gathered. The buzz in the atmosphere was infectious, and all of the local people were happy to share their culture with me, guiding me to the spot with the best view, and telling me what was happening. As tradition goes, the eldest son of the family rides around the family home on horseback, while in front of him, another rider dances with a horse. When I say dances with a horse, I mean the horse was dancing! It was impressive, and at one point I had to jump out of the way as it almost rode into me.

The sight of this horse rider, mixed with the sound of the guns shaking my heart, and the rhythm of the drums really got me excited, and within half an hour I was in the middle of a circle dancing, much to the amusement of all the locals. The musicians came and played in front of me, while I shook my hips, and moved my arms… I didn’t really know what I was doing, but the people seemed to like it, and, as is custom, people came and put money in my hand as I danced, which I then passed on to the musicians. I was reflecting earlier this week, how difficult is to remove myself from my British, conservative mannerisms which stop me from expressing as much as I want. The desire to get up and dance has always been there, for example, in the church services here, I want to jump up and down with my hands in the air, but something inside always stops me. A fear of embarrassment? Is it me, or the result of my cultural upbringing? This was a good chance to practice that free expression, and I enjoyed it.

Somehow, it was very liberating to experience such an event. The Ghanaian people are so open with their culture, and love to share it with foreigners. Even when we are too shy to dance.

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5 responses

  1. Valgas

    YES!

    Such beautiful photography yet again pat.

    I also remember the feeling of freedom whilst dancing barefoot on a concrete floor, as all the locals laughed at my off beat timing and rhythm-less booty shaking.
    I always feel spoilt when reading your blogs, they are thoroughly enjoyable!

    I want to see more photos!…Maybe you could create a set on flickr and post the ones that wont appear on the blog?

    I’m excited to see what you get up to next!

    -Valgas

    February 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm

  2. Stefan

    nice shots pat, really nice

    February 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

  3. Hey Pat, quite an exciting read and once again flawless photos. keep updating me, im enjoying the reads buddy x

    February 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

  4. Emi

    Awesome, Pat!!! Love to hear that you’re daring being brave and start expressing yourself! Yah, you stiff British person – JK! 😀

    February 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

  5. Imagine how happy people could be if we dance like the Ghanians, there’s so much to learn from the internal freedom of this people!! And wisdom… Here in Spain is sad to see africans wanting to be like us. It’s strange when they got so much culture…

    February 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm

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