The other night I experienced the most amazing thing. I was invited by my newest friend, Ratty, to a street party in the district in which he lives in Accra. His drumming and dance troupe were to be performing.

Needless to say, I was excited by the opportunity to mingle with the locals and meet his family. His family was very welcoming when we first arrived and his mother, who works at a “salon” in the market, insisted on painting my toe nails for free. “We must make you look even more beautiful for the party,” she said.

When we arrived at the street party, a huge area was blocked off. A D.J. was blasting gospel music with a reggae beat. People were playing cards and checkers, and children were running around playing games of tag. Many of the women were dressed in outfits made of the same black and white floral material. I got to meet Ratty’s aunts and cousins who were very welcoming and engaged me in a conversation.

I asked what the party was celebrating and to my surprise Ratty’s aunt told me that one of the men in their township had died and this was all a part of his funeral. I was in awe as this could not be any more different from the somber experiences I’m familiar with at home.

However, what a welcome change. I guess the day the man died people in his community all fled to the streets for a giant water fight, one week later this street party took place and the next day they were to march the body in a coffin through the streets to the burial sight. It reminded me a lot of the block parties of my youth with the exception of the dead body!

This truly marked a celebration of life as we danced and drummed late into the night. I hope when I die people will have a giant party to remember me, and I’ll be sure to buy everyone a round!

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