Funeral of a whale
J. BENIBENGOR BLAY
There is great
excitement in the ancient town of Missibi in Ghana.
The previous night
had been wet and stormy and one which the fishermen were not likely to forget.
Caught in the storm, their canoes had been dashed to pieces on the rocks and
their nets swept away on the swift current. Only the fact that they were all strong
swimmers had saved the men from drowning.
The sun is not yet
up when they collect again on the shore to watch for their nets. The moon is
still shining and little waves dance merrily on the strand, while the sea crabs
scuttle among the scattered shells. But these things do not interest the fishermen,
and even the search for nets is forgotten as they catch sight of a huge object,
surround by a shoal of fish, tossing on the rolling sea. Their slow, questing
advance is halted as a nauseating stench greets them. Fingers to their noses,
they crane and peer. it is a whale and judging by the smell, it has been dead
for some days.
Now, such a sight is
no mere spectacle to the people of missibi. As descendants of a strong and
virile race which long ago came by sea in great barge like ships to settle in
these parts, they holed to the tradition that the sea is their home and they
worship it to this day. In any crisi whatever its nature, whether drought or
famine or war they call upon the sea for help. The whale is the king of their
sea. And it has been the custom, throughout their long history, to accord a
ceremonial to any whale that comes rolling ashore dead.
So, bound by
tradition, the fishermen must bear the people of Missibi. As descendants of a
strong and virile race which long ago came by sea in great barge – like ships
to settle in these parts
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