When I assisted a weekly Art therapy class , many years ago, I learned about the connection between colors and emotions. On numerous occasions, the students chosen to attend the sessions chose to use dark colors to express negativity, pain or worry. They got to share the meaning of their particular art work with the group at the end of each session.
In Ghana however, black is the color worn for mourning. For most funerals black is the color worn to mourn dear ones. Our traditional funeral attire for women is a black top and long skirt with a silk scarf to match. I guess here, it symbolizes pain, loss, sadness, emptiness and dread. Men can wear a wrapped black cloth or a long black shirt (boubou) with matching trousers. Some mourners settle on red and black and ask all sympathizers to wear those colors. I guess the red is easier to connect with death as it may represent blood, blood shed or pain, whilst black and white is worn mostly on the Sunday after the funeral to thank God and celebrate the life of the deceased.
The dark colors were rife during the Art therapy class. From the chat with students, you knew why their work had those particular colors and images, that day. What they represented to them and why they had selected those rather than the other options available.
This topic came to mind whilst selecting my attire for my uncle’s funeral today: I will be clad in all black, hair covered and all. In my Akan culture, this is taken very seriously, funerals are big events, seeing off dear ones has become one of the most significant social events, especially in the rural areas. Sometimes we question how funerals gained so much attention within the cultural framework but we still give this space our due, especially if you are Akan.
So for my elderly uncle F, I am off to pay my last respects, early this morning, clad in all black. In the afternoon however, I will attend the social gathering with a red cover cloth on top of the long black skirt, clearly differentiating close family members from friends.