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LAST RITES Money, alcohol and machete help send slain Ghanaian on to the next life as whole town turns out for farewell ABOUT THE SERIES THE SERIES
Money, alcohol and machete help send slain Ghanaian on to the next life as whole town turns out for farewell

 Men finish the burial of Quayson, 28, whose death was believed to be a homicide.
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Date published: 9/1/2007

BY FRANK DELANO

PRINCE'S TOWN, Ghana--Seth Quayson, 28, died in July at Axim, eight miles away from his home at Prince's Town.

His broken body was found on the rocks below the walls of Fort St. Anthony. The Portuguese built the fort in 1515. Quay-son had been staying there with his father, the fort's caretaker.

Quayson's family believed he was murdered, pushed or thrown to his death over the fort's high parapet in the middle of the night.

While police in Axim investigated his death, Quayson was buried in Prince's Town on July 14.

His was a traditional funeral without benefit of clergy. A relative said Quayson had once belonged to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but had been excommunicated for drinking.

Nobody in Prince's Town went to work the day of Quayson's last rites. Hundreds of people wearing mourning colors of black and red turned out for the funeral. Some of them had daubed their faces with white clay.

Quayson's body lay in the biggest hall in town. The place was packed. The men sat apart from the women. The crowd filled the streets outside.

Family members recorded cash donations in a notebook. On display was a large, color, close-up photograph of Quayson's head on the rocks.

The Reno Spot bar next door to the funeral hall did a brisk business. A wall of loudspeakers in the street blasted highlife tunes, Ghana's popular music. The mourners danced.

Quayson's pallbearers were all women. Surrounded by the crowd, the women first took his coffin from the funeral hall to his mother's house nearby for a final farewell.

Ritual procession

The throng then marched through town to the cemetery by the sea.

Young men, some of them bare-chested and white-faced, tried to stop the procession of their friend's body to his grave. The women pallbearers beat them away with sticks. The ritual repeated itself as the women rushed on to the cemetery.

The women cheered when the coffin was lowered into the grave beneath the coconut trees. The women and most of the mourners returned to town immediately.

A dozen or so men stayed at the open grave to perform the final obsequies.


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Reporter Frank Delano visited Prince's Town, Fredericksburg's new sister city, during a July trip to Ghana, where he served in the Peace Corps 40 years ago.

For video and more photos, or to order photo reprints, see fredericksburg.com

SUNDAY: Sister cities Prince's Town and Fredericksburg are worlds apart. MONDAY: Sister-city relationship shines a beacon of hope into Prince's Town. Tale of two soccer balls illustrates town's need, and obsession. TUESDAY: Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect villagers from malaria. WEDNESDAY: Profile of Fredericksburg's Pamela Bridgewater, ambassador to Ghana THURSDAY: What is the future of the sister-city relationship? YESTERDAY: Forty years later, reporter's return to Ghana is bittersweet. In LIFE

For previous stories in this series, visit fredericks burg.com.