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In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
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John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

Grief and Mourning

Grief and Mourning

(p.58) 4 Grief and Mourning
In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the most striking aspect of the scene that greeted the young Charles Bannerman, the Gold Coast's first African newspaperman, as he entered his late aunt's house: the dominant role of women in managing the newly dead and in exuberant expressions of grief and rituals of mourning. It discusses the gendered dynamics of grief and mourning and the sensory spectacle of funeral celebrations. The chapter analyzes the startling juxtaposition of grief and gaiety in funeral celebrations, the combination of 'very high spirits' and 'unmistakable signs of grief', that struck Bannerman. Neither of these features was unique to local funerary cultures: distinctions in gender roles with regard to the expression of grief and to scripted mourning rituals have been noted across time in many parts of the world, while revelry has been observed as a characteristic of African American funerals in the slave and post-emancipation societies of the New World. The chapter investigates how gender roles informed grief and mourning among the Akan and their neighbours. It then explains the widely reported combination of intense lamentation and explosive revelry in funeral celebrations.

Keywords:   Charles Bannerman, women, mourning, grief, funeral celebrations, gender roles, funerary cultures, revelry

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