Die In Ghana, Get a $600 Car Coffin

The Ga people of coastal Ghana have been making elaborate fantasy coffins since the 1950s. For your very last car ride, there really is no alternative.

The Ga are not the most populous tribe on Earth. Living on the Greater Accra Plains of Ghana, a country of 24 million sandwiched between Côte d’Ivoire and Togo on


the west coast of Africa, they number around 2 million. The Ga believe that death is the beginning of a journey into another life and they also believe that this journey must reflect the traveler’s previous life. It also doesn’t hurt if the journey is done in style.

Coffin designs reflect the deceased’s life. If you were a fisherman, you get a big fish. If you sold cigarettes—or, presumably, you died of lung cancer—you get a big cigarette. If you did what rich people in West Africa tend to do, which is to drive a big Mercedes–Benz sedan, you get a big Mercedes–Benz sedan—with velvet lining instead of a V8. And if you drove a big Mercedes–Benz sedan and flew your own plane, you get this:


The flying limo, not the chicken.

The breathtakingly exhaustive Wikipedia page of Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop, one of the more famous Ga coffinmakers, lists an incredible variety of designs. A far from exhaustive list: onion, lobster, tank, Coke bottle, Daf truck. Daf truck!


The coffins can cost $600, which sounds like a bargain for a such an elaborate and wonderful object of craftmanship until you factor in Ghana’s per capita GDP of $1,500. These are seriously expensive coffins. Then again, it pays to be well-prepared for the afterlife. While the precise details of the trip are up for debate, one thing is for certain: there’s no coming back.


Photo Credit: Ordinary Gentleman, See Wah Cheng, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (1, 2) Hat tip to markoferko.

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