Heidi and I have written and shared images before about northern Ghanaians love of firing guns at funerals and the horrible injuries that ensue. In recent years, homemade mortars have become a new favorite at these events because of the extra loud bang they produce.
The foot-long iron pipes are jam-packed with black powder and stopped shut with a corn cob. They are then evenly spaced out and partially buried in the ground. A small trail of black powder is added as a crude fuse that leads to a small hole in the side of each mortar. Finally, they are fired by a brave (err.. foolish?) man with a long, smoldering stick.
The Dangers of Homemade Mortars
There are so many dangerous aspects to these mortars. If not buried well, the force of the explosion can launch the iron pipe into the air like a deadly missile. The mortars are usually buried in refuse areas and the blast sends sparks and shrapnel flying through the air. Sometimes these bits of debris cause injuries – the worst being when they hit a bystanders’ eyes. Watch the video above carefully and you can see fiery projectiles shoot 6-7 feet in the air over the two men.
Finally, there is the classic misfire accident when a series of mortars are fired and one doesn’t go off. Someone picks the “dud” mortar up and in the process rattles the hot fuse just enough to cause it to go off. The images below show the grizzly results of that exact scenario.
Since I don’t see any end to this tradition of firing guns and mortars at funerals, I highly recommend that when you attend these events and see the explosives come out, you should stay a safe distance away.