Today is the official day of mourning for Ghana’s deceased President, Atta Mills. It was one week ago he passed away.
Yesterday, my work told me I needed to wear red and black to mourn the President’s death tomorrow (which is today). When I awoke in the morning, instead of wearing the black cardigan I made a mental note to yesterday, I foolishly forgot and asked Joe to borrow one of his white & blue plaid button ups. As I sat smooshed between two mourning Ghanaians on my usual morning tro ride, I remembered today was the day I was suppose to wear red and black. Shoot. I nervously looked back in the tro and Ghanaian women wore floor length black dresses with pops of red jewelery and scarves. Men wore anything and everything that was black or red. Children followed suit. Street sellers switched from selling fruit to selling red scarves & flags. The city was mourning, regardless of their previous political affiliation.
Thinking my Obroni self as a cop-out for my forgetfulness, on my walk to work, a man asked me why I wasn’t wearing red. I was caught. I told him I didn’t have any and sort of just laughed uncomfortably… Thinking he would call me out and say something rude, he instead said I could have some of his scarf and proceeded to rip me a huge piece. I tied it around my neck and as he walked away he gave me the “Ok, you’re good now” look. I felt like someone just told me I had my fly down or told me I had toilet paper hanging out of my pants…
The rest of the walk to work was full of praises, thanks, and many smiles and extra-long Ghanaian handshakes. (The handshakes here have a hard to master snap to them) Ghanaians were genuinely happy to see I was mourning with them. Think of Eugene on Game Day but replace football with a funeral, switch green & yellow with black & red, and add about a million more people.
When I arrived at the office, my co-workers exclaimed praises that I had a red scarf on. They even pulled out their phone cameras and took pictures, then proceeded to get into a heated debate because one co-worker wasn’t wearing black or red. He says mourning is not about what colors you wear but what is in your heart. The rest of the staff said things like “Aye! Tssst! No! Even the Obroni is wearing a red scarf!”