Africa Guide
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Guide to Africa

Ghana People and Culture

Ghanians come from six main ethnic groups: the Akan (Ashanti and Fanti), the Ewe, the Ga-Adangbe, the Mole-Dagbani, the Guan, and the Gurma.

Ashanti

The Ashanti tribe of the Akan are the largest tribe in Ghana and one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa. Once renown for the splendour and wealth of their rulers, they are most famous today for their craft work, particularly their hand-carved stools and fertility dolls and their colourful kente cloth. Kente cloth is woven in bright, narrow strips with complex patterns; it's usually made from cotton and is always woven outdoors, exclusively by men.

The village is a social as well as an economic unit. Everyone participates in the major ceremonies, the most frequent of which are funeral celebrations which typically last several days. Attendance at funerals is normally expected from everyone in the village and expenditure on funerals is a substantial part of the household budget.

The Ashanti are noted for their expertise in a variety of specialized crafts. These include weaving, wood carving, ceramics, and metallurgy. Of these crafts, only pottery-making is primarily a female activity; the others are restricted to male specialists. Even in the case of pottery-making, only men are allowed to fashion pots or pipes representing anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures.

Ewé

The Ewé have over 600 deities to turn to in times of need. Many village celebrations and ceremonies take place in honour of one or more deities. Tehy also weave kente cloth, and their more geometrical patterns contain symbolic designs handed down through the ages.

The Ewe occupy southeastern Ghana and the southern parts of neighboring Togo and Benin. Most Ewe were farmers who kept some livestock, and there was some craft specialization. On the coast and immediately inland, fishing was important, and local variations in economic activities permitted a great deal of trade between one community and another, carried out chiefly by women

Fanti

The Fanti tribe are mainly located in the coastal areas of Ghana.

Ga-Adangbe

The Ga-Adangbe people inhabit the Accra Plains. The Adangbe are found to the east, the Ga groups, to the west of the Accra coastlands. Although both languages are derived from a common proto-Ga-Adangbe ancestral language, modern Ga and Adangbe are mutually unintelligible. The modern Adangbe include the people of Shai, La, Ningo, Kpone, Osudoku, Krobo, Gbugble, and Ada, who speak different dialects. The Ga also include the Ga-Mashie groups occupying neighborhoods in the central part of Accra, and other Gaspeakers who migrated from Akwamu, Anecho in Togo, Akwapim, and surrounding areas.

Gaun

The Guan are believed to have begun to migrate from the Mossi region of modern Burkina around A.D. 1000. Moving gradually through the Volta valley in a southerly direction, they created settlements along the Black Volta, throughout the Afram Plains, in the Volta Gorge, and in the Akwapim Hills before moving farther south onto the coastal plains. Some scholars postulate that the wide distribution of the Guan suggests that they were the Neolithic population of the region. Later migrations by other groups such as the Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Adangbe into Guan-settled areas would then have led to the development of Guan-speaking enclaves along the Volta and within the coastal plains.

The major languages spoken are Twi, Fante, Ga, Hausa, Dagbani, Ewe and Nzema. English is the official language of Ghana.

The Ashante are part of the Akan tribes who speak various dialects of Twi. The language is very rich in proverbs, the use of which is taken to be a sign of wisdom. Euphemisms are very common, especially about events connected with death

60% Christian, 15% Muslim, 25% traditional African religions.

Ghana has the highest percentage of Christians in West Africa, but the belief in traditional animist religions is still extremely common

Ghana is a country that celebrates festivals. There are several rites and rituals that are performed throughout the year in various parts of the country. They cover the right of passage child-birth, puberty, marriage and death. To the majority of people, these celebrations provide all that is satisfying to their communities and families.

Many festivals include thrilling durbars of chiefs, when tribal leaders and Queen Mothers process in decorated palanquins, shaded by the traditional umbrellas, and supported by drummers and warriors discharging ancient muskets.

Panafest

This festival is held very summer. It is celebrates Ghanian roots. People from other African countries as well as the African-Americans with roots in Ghana visit the country and celebrate their heritage.
 

The Homowo Festival

The word "Homowo" actually means 'making fun of hunger.' Our traditional oral history describes a time long ago when the rains stopped and the sea closed its gates. A deadly famine spread throughout the southern Accra Plains, the home of the Ga people. When the harvest finally arrived and food became plentiful, the people were so happy that they celebrated with a festival that ridiculed hunger.

Soups are the primary component in Ghanaian cuisine and are eaten with fufu (either pounded plaintain and cassava or yam), kokonte (cassava meal cooked into a paste), banku (fermented corn dough), boiled yam, rice, bread, plantain, or cassava. The most common soups are light soup, palmnut soup, and groundnut (peanut) soup.

Ghanian Recipes

Ghana is often described as a land of festivals, music, and traditional dances. There is hardly any community, clan, or tribe which lacks an occasion to celebrate annually.

There are three main types of music: ethnic or traditional music, normally played during festivals and at funerals; "highlife" music, which is a blend of traditional and ‘imported’ music; and choral music, which is performed in concert halls, churches, schools and colleges.

Musical Instruments

Axatse
Rattle or idiophone. It is constructed by hollowing out a gourd or calabash. Then beads are attached to it with some string which is woven around it in a fishnet style design.

Gankogui
Double bell or gong. It is constructed from iron. In Ewe music in general, and during Atsiã in particular, gankogui keeps the time.

Kaganu
A narrow drum or membranophone. It is about two feet tall, its head is about three inches in diameter and it is open at the bottom.

Kidi
A drum which is about two feet tall, its head is about nine inches in diameter and has a closed bottom. Kidi responds to calls from the lead drummer.

Sogo
The largest of the supporting drums used to play Atsiã. In some other pieces it is used as a lead drum. It is about two and a half feet tall, its head is about ten inches in diameter and it is closed at the bottom.

Atsimevu
The lead drum. It is a narrow drum approximately four feet tall and its head is about eleven inches in diameter.

The Ashanti are noted for their expertise in a variety of specialized crafts. These include weaving, wood carving, ceramics, and metallurgy. Of these crafts, only pottery-making is primarily a female activity; the others are restricted to male specialists

Weaving is a highly developed craft, with dozens of standardized and named textile designs. Stamped cloth is also made.

Kente Cloth

Kente cloth is only worn in the southern half of the country and - as distinct from other forms of traditional weaving - is reserved mainly for joyous occasions.

Traditionally the Kente cloth is a festival cloth worn mainly during the annual and seasonal festivals, which are happy occasions. Today they are not only used for festive occasions but also during the rituals associated with the important events of life; for example, marriage, death, and religious worship. Therefore, it is quite appropriate for outsiders to wear it for religious and festive occasions.

Adinkra Symbols

One of the highly valued hand-printed and hand-embroidered cloths. Its origin is traced to the Asante people of Ghana and the Gyaman people of Cote' d'lvoire (Ivory Coast). However, the production and use of Adinkra have come to be more associated with the Asante people than any other group of people. Around the 19th Century, the Asante people developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the royalty and spiritual leaders for very important sacred ceremonies and rituals.

Wood Carvings

Wood carving is divided into many branches, each with its own specialists. Among the major products are wooden sculptures of outstanding artistic quality and the talking-drums (ntumpane).

The famous wooden "stools" are symbolic and ritual objects rather than items of furniture. "In Ashanti, a generation or so ago, every stool in use had its own special name which denoted the sex, or social status, or clan of the owner"

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