He's alive!

Ghana man attends his own funeral in elaborate scheme to have hospital bills paid.


J.A. Getzlaff
March 29, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

What do you do when you need hernia surgery but nobody will help you pay the bill? If you're 32-year-old Cujoe Gokah, you die, then show up at your funeral to collect the cash.

According to a BBC report, Gokah, who lives in Adaklu-Dabalu, a village in the Volta region of Ghana, was having problems getting his family to lend him the 450,000 cedi (U.S.$120) he needed to pay his hospital bills. So he and his resourceful physician, Dr. A.K. Tachie, came up with a plan.

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Tachie sent Gokah's family some terrible news -- he said Gokah had died during his hernia surgery. The family immediately went into funeral mode, paying all of Gokah's medical bills and arranging for his funeral and burial.

On the day of the funeral, the entire clan showed up in traditional red and black dress to collect the body from Tachie. They carried Gokah's coffin between them and chanted funeral songs, which were cut short when Gokah himself appeared before them.

Tachie explained to the stunned family that Gokah's death had been a ruse to get them to pay his bills. Thrilled that he was still alive, the mourners switched to party mode, covered Gokah with talcum powder (which represents triumph in Ghana) and paraded him through town on their shoulders.

An all-night party ensued, and now Gokah has become something of a one-man show in Adaklu-Dabalu -- school kids are paying 100 cedi apiece (less than one U.S. cent) to see the man who lived and died and lived again.


J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to DailyPlanet@salon.com.

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