When someone dies a public death the interpretation is left to too many people. There is no control over what happens. Last night Ghana lost a very talented and very young (in age and career) artist to a car accident. I woke up to news of her death all over FB with people asking others to refrain from sending them the gory images. At first I was confused. I didn’t know who she was. I was in a hurry to go to my day job so I dressed and got some business work done and headed in to work. When I returned, there were still more messages on FB and still more admonishments. So I started my research. Ebony Reigns was her name. She sounds amazing. They billed her as Ghana’s Beyonce. Provocative as all get out but strong vocals and themes of songs were very applicable to our environs.

I am not sure statistically how many deaths are public but I think deaths such as road accidents are public and as such cannot be contained. People have been releasing pictures from the accident site all day. Her death brought back memories for me and I didn’t know it would until I had been listening to/watching her many YouTube videos, reading about her rise to fame, and accidentally caught sight of some of the pictures in the corner of my eye.

David died 5 years ago next Sunday. I can’t believe 5 years have gone by. Still feels very fresh, and tonight even more so after reading and listening to Ebony. Another rising star snuffed out too soon. His was also a public death. A road accident. The saddest thing about the whole “worst night of my life” was that every passerby stopped to snap pictures like paparazzi. Why? What would you want with the mangled body of a stranger later? Why would you, a passerby, need a memory of this? It wasn’t like they would be interrogated by the police later. The driver who drove me to the morgue after picking up David’s body, tried to send me texts containing some of the ones he had snapped. After the first one, I chastised him and told him I never wanted to have a record of that night. My memory would serve me plenty over my lifetime; I was sure of it.

What is it about death and gore that makes people so fascinated? I have no experience with this in the U.S. so I can’t speak for Americans and whether they do the same. I’m not talking about the media, but just the average person walking by. But maybe in the wake of social media it’s par for the course. I just know that despite all warnings/threats and attempts to shoo people off David’s body, the bystanders could not have enough. Those who had been there at the moment of impact stayed around to make sure they could share the details with me. I bet they thought they were being helpful. I can’t see any other way to read people releasing the gory details of Ebony’s demise all over FB. I just see insensitivity and rudeness and a lack of empathy. We will all die one day, I pray that these people get to have a private death, not one broadcast all over the internet. Shaking my head and sucking my teeth at the crassness of the whole thing.

Is the average American or Westerner like that? Quick to pull out their phone and record the gory details of some stranger’s last agonizing moments? Do they also go further to then broadcast it all over the internet as though in a rejoicing of sorts? You tell me! Sometimes I get upset when Westerners call me and my people out for a lack of finesse  (nkwrasisem) but there are moments like these when I just want to hide my face for the shame I feel.

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