It is common practice for a person who has lost a loved one to clad themselves in all black or red to signify they are in a state of deep grief and sorrow. Donning white apparel on the other hand usually connotes a celebratory mood by the wearer. In the wake of the death of dancehall songstress Ebony Reigns, however, the issue of the appropriate color to mourn in has become the bone of contention amongst Ghanaians.
The father of the late singer, Mr. Nana Poku Kwarteng since the demise of his beloved daughter has been seen in public clad in white instead of the traditional black or red that is expected of one in a state of mourning. As usual, Ghanaians have been quick to jump to conclusions, mostly insensitive about his choice of attire in this rather painful and trying time of his life.
In a clear case of grieving more than the bereaved, without understanding the cultural significance of the father wearing white in his public appearances following the untimely death of his own child, people have been quick to conclude that the only possible reason for this is because he has a hand in her demise and is not affected by her death enough to be in all black.
There is no doubt that Mr. Kwarteng is the most affected (apart from her mother and siblings) by the death of his dear child as the two were very close, but people who never even met her or shared a single second of her life are quick to judge him for not mourning enough because he hasn’t been seen in all black or red.
The reason for his choice of clothes is simple. According to the Akan customs and traditions, a parent who loses their child for the first time is obligated to wear white. That’s why both parents were the only ones in white at the one-week celebration, even though they are the most affected the death. This brings to mind a question I’ve been asking myself. Does the color of one’s clothes necessarily depict the mood in their heart, especially during a time of grief? Must one go all the way to clad themselves in the traditional funeral colors for the world to know they are in pain and sorrow? What is the true color of grief? Does it matter what you wear while you mourn? Shouldn’t fashion be the last thing on a grieving person’s mind?
The person in the blackest clothes is not necessarily the chief mourner. And no, wearing white to a funeral does not mean the wearer killed the deceased and is celebrating their demise. We are used to mourning in dark colors. That does not mean wearing clothes of a lighter hue connotes jubilation. Sometimes colors are just colors, not mirrors of our sorrows.