The custom in Ghana when someone passes away is to publicize that person’s death by publicly displaying a portrait of that person with data about his or her life. Currently the most common way to do this is to publish large posters printed on paper and displaying them publicly in the town or region (depending on how well known the person was). These are known in Ghana as “death posters”, effectively an obituary. Previously it was more common, and probably cheaper, to have his or her portrait painted by the same artists whose primary customers are businesses. This painting is a vestige of that older custom, now quite rare.
The name of this man who died, who was a wealthy man, as evidenced by his suit at his age, is Agya Nimo, an Ashanti. The inscription here on the right side of the painting means “Sharing sympathy for his death”. This is the phrase that the Ashanti, and many Ghanaians, customarily say to the family of someone who has died. The artist who did this one apparently did this painting on the back of an older sign, thereby recycling it. Or was it the other way around? This painting measures 48 7/8 x 48″ (124 x 122 cm). The image on the other side of this very large portrait is a rather sinister portrait of Mike Tyson.