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Funeral for Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills Part 2

© Sung Park 2012

     Attending the public funeral service for the Late President Mills of Ghana was quite the experience. It was unlike any funeral or observation I’d ever seen or attended. From where I was seated, I would have to say that portions of it resembled a rock music festival and a tractor trailer pull. There were drummers from different tribes playing throughout the day. Vendors were going up and down the isles selling Mentos and various other snacks along with memorial pictures, pins, calendars and whatever else you could think of. The crowd would roar when the motorcycle police started doing tricks in the plaza between escorts of foreign dignitaries, which included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was pretty chaotic. We had heard that the gates were going to close at 7:30am to Black Star Plaza where the service was being held, so we headed out around 6am and arrived around 7am to make sure we would get a seat. Things didn’t get started until close to 11am.

     When the program started, we couldn’t hear a word anyone was saying due to the lousy speaker system that looked like they dated back to the 50’s. The smart ones had their radios on and were listening to every word. Most sat quietly waiting for activity in the plaza while others socialized and went after free funeral swag that included a Mills bandana, Ghanaian flag and a memorial program. I went mostly to observe, but couldn’t help myself in taking some photos. Since I didn’t have a press pass, I thought I’d have a little fun and see what I could drum up. For the most part, the people were really warm to us. I think they appreciated that we were there with them to pay our respects.

All Photos © Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

© Sung Park 2012

The End

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Attending a Ghanaian President’s Funeral

It took us three and a half hours of waiting in line to see President Mills lying in state today. It’s not often that you get to witness such an historic event. in a foreign country, so I felt very privileged to attend this event. We donned our black and red outfits and joined the hundreds in line as we snaked through the neighborhood and the grounds of the state house.  It was quite the scene with vendors approaching you with little nicknacks and food. There were occasional cars with dignitaries speeding past at high speed along side tribes in traditional dress in percussive processions.  It was an interesting first day back in Ghana.

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Oregon Country Fair 2012

© 2012 Sung Park

Strange things are afoot in Veneta, Oregon this summer. I had heard about the Oregon Country Fair, but wasn’t sure I wanted to dish out the money to go see weirdness in the woods west of Eugene. I was free this year on Friday, the first day of the Fair so I decided to see what all the hoopla was all about. Plus, my good friend Brant, a Country Fair Veteran, was going so I decided to tag along and let him be my guide. After a bus ride from downtown Eugene, we were greeted by a welcome party with lots of smiles and warm greetings. Once in the gates, it was pretty overwhelming. Lots and lots of people, some in costume, some not in costume and some not in clothes. It’s booth after booth of art, food and random things and stages with bands playing. It took me a couple of hours to take it all in as we walked the large loop. It was a pleasant day in the 80’s with very low humidity. Brant and I hung out in this one area with a small stage, booths, art and activities for kids and families. We got a cup of ice coffee and just soaked it all in for about an hour or so before heading back on the path. I’d have to say that just hangin’ was my favorite part. The best people watching ever! Lots of cool stuff to see and a great vibe. I felt like I was back in Austin at Eyore’s Birthday, but on a much larger scale. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back next year? Cheers!

Scenes from Elmina Castle

The scene around Elmina Castle is very vibrant with markets and fisherman. Elmina castle was originally used for the gold trade before being converted to the slave trade. It’s a very active fishing village with a lot going on. I decided to hang out on the beach where boats were being repaired and constructed. The fisherman wanted money for pictures, so I decided to keep my distance. The kids playing soccer were more open and friendly, so I hung out with them for a while. Everywhere you go, you can always count on kids playing soccer. I thought the coast made a great backdrop for a photograph. It still surprises me how much they delight in seeing themselves on a small LCD screen on the back of my camera. It’s probably been the best way to make connections with people here. In Liberia, people were all asking me “show me how I look” so I would take a picture and show them to their delight. Anyhow, after a while I left the kids with 2  Cedis to buy some water after their game and headed back to the hotel. It was a good day.

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Door of No Return

Visiting Cape Coast Castle where hundreds and thousands of Africans were sold as slaves was a very sobering experience. It’s one thing to read about what had happened, but to see, feel and touch the dungeons that held hundreds of slaves for more than a century, brings a new found perspective to understanding what had occurred. The most sobering moment in my mind was going through the “The Door of No Return” towards the end of the tour, which is the door that would take the slaves to the boats that would take them across the Atlantic to parts of America. The door now opens to fisherman working on their nets and vendors trying to sell starfish or whatever else they have to sell. I was caught by the beauty of the region, but the history of the place was all too real to fully enjoy the sights.

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For $800 you can be buried in a big chicken

We visited a coffin maker near the coast. This is one of many coffin makers who create these elaborate colorful coffins in various shapes and sizes. They’ll create whatever you want if you give them an idea. They usually take about three weeks to craft. Makes me want to go see a funeral with one of these. Definitely a different way of dealing with death. Why not be buried in a piece of art that’s bio degradable?

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Ghana has a mall with an Apple Store…..

Flying into Accra, Ghana has been quite a culture shock after being in Liberia for three weeks. It’s been like night and day. There’s a mall near the airport that has an Apple store. It’s pretty small, but it exists. It was a trip walking around there. There are people that  just walk around because they can’t really afford much there along with the people who have money. It was pretty crowded on a Sunday afternoon. It was convenient to recharge my cell phone minutes and get some toiletries. So Ghana is a city of about 2 million in the city with another 2 million in the outskirts. It’s pretty big. First thing I noticed was how much cleaner things were as well as signs of growth and development that exists with an infrastructure. There is also an art and music scene that’s more visible. I also got a chance to visit the University of Ghana which has a student population of 30K. Not too shabby. I’m at a nice hotel with a pool. Feeling a bit guilty, but I guess I’ll have to deal with it for now. So far, I’ve only seen the affluent parts. I’ll have to see what the rest of this city is like. More to come……..

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