Culture of Ghana

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    Officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” and is derived from the ancient Ghana Empire. Ghana was inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient predominantly Akan kingdoms, including the inland Ashanti Empire, the Akwamu, the Akyem, the Bonoman, the Denkyira and the Fante among others. Non-Akan states created by the Ga also existed as did states by the Dagomba. Prior to contact with Europeans trade between the Akan and various African states flourished due to Akan gold wealth. Trade with European states began after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established the Gold Coast Crown colony in 1874 over parts but not all of the country.The Gold Coast achieved independence from the United Kingdom’s colonial rule in 1957, becoming the first African nation to do so. A global poll found that Ghana was the most religious country in the world.                                            


    POPULATION:                                                          23.800M  (2009)        24 MILLION  (2010)POPULATION  GROWTH ANNUAL                      2.4GDP                                                                             26.2 BILLION USDGDP PER CAPITA                                                     1,098 USDGDP GROWTH  ANNUAL                                        4.7 USDLIFE EXPECTANCY TOTAL YEAR                       63.4 AT BIRTHINFANT MORTALITY RATE                                 ( PER 1,000 BIRTHS )  51.3 LITERACY RATE, YOUTH                                    (FEMALE AGES  15 – 24    78.9 PREVALENCE OF HIV/AIDS                                AGES    15 – 49        5.4  (2007)TOTAL LAND  AREA                                              ( 92456 SQ M)  (239460 SQ KM) INDEPENDENCE                                                     MARCH 1957

    Ghana Political Facts


    March 6, 1957: Ghana became the first country in Africa south of the Sahara to gain independence from colonial rule. Africa and the rest of the world follows the creation of the new state with high anticipations. The situation in Ghana inspire nationalist movements all over the continent. The economy seems to be good and promising as Ghana is rich with gemstones, forests and crops. Ghana is the leading cocoa exporter in the world and produces one tenth of the world’s gold. 25% of the population is literate (which is high compared to other colonies at the time) and many has an education.Nkrumah is increasingly popular, but now faces the huge challenges of uniting a country of people that doesn’t have that much in common. On the contrary some groups still carry hostility towards each other from centuries of wars and the scars of slave trade. Political parties which are regional or tribal oriented are prohibited to enforce a feeling of national unity.
    The widespread use of xylophones is one of the most distinctive aspects of the musical life of the communities and ethno-linguistic groups in Ghana’s Upper West Region, some of which extend to southern areas of Burkina Faso and eastern Ivory Coast. The three main xylophone traditions in the Upper West Region are the Dagara gyil, the Birifor gyile, and the Sissala zenze. These ethno-linguistic communities are endowed with a very rich musical heritage that encompasses diverse and complex musical practices that flourish within a variety of social contexts. This brief report will focus on structural, ethnographic and social aspects of the Dagara musical practices in north west Ghana, as studied, observed and experienced during a period of learning and study with Ghanaian master drummer and gyil virtuoso player Bernard Woma at the Dagara Music Centre, Medie, and a period of field research in the towns of Fielmuo and Chetu, Nandon area, Upper West region.

    Culture of Ghana

    Ghana is a country of 24.6 million people, comprising dozens of native ethnic groups, such as:the Akans in the centre and South of the country;the Ga and Adangbe in, around and East of Accra;the Guang peoples in the rain forest;the Dagombas, Mamprusi and related peoples in the North;the Gurunsi languages speaking peoples in the far North;                                                                                     the Gonjas in Northern Region

    The religious composition of Ghana in the first postindependence population census of 1960 was 30 percent Muslim, 38 percent traditionalist, 24 percent Christian, and the rest (about 8 percent) other. A breakdown of the 1960 population according to Christian sects showed that 25 percent were Protestant (non-Pentecostal); 13 percent, Roman Catholic; 2 percent, Protestant (Pentecostal); and 1 percent, Independent African Churches. The 1970 population census did not present figures on the religious composition of the nation.[1The percentage of the general population considered to be Christian rose sharply to 62 percent according to a 1985 estimate. Whereas the Protestant (non-Pentecostal) sector remained at 25 percent, the percentage of Catholics increased to 15 percent. A larger rise, however, was recorded for Protestants (Pentecostals) – 8 percent compared with their 2 percent representation in 1960. From being the smallest Christian sect, with a 1 percent representation among the general population in 1960, membership in the Independent African Churches rose the most – to about 14 percent by 1985. The 1985 estimate showed that the Muslim population of Ghana declined to 15 percent. However, many Muslim organizations disputed these figures. The sector representing traditionalists and non-believers (38 and 9 percent, respectively, in 1960), also dramatically declined by 1985 – to 21 and about 1 percent, respectively. This shift, especially the increase in favor of the Independent African Churches, attests to the success of denominations that have adjusted their doctrines to suit local beliefs. Although no official figures exist to reflect regional distribution of the various denominations, it is generally agreed that the southern part of the nation is more Christian, while the north is more Islamic.
    Religious tolerance in Ghana is very high. The major Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter are recognized as national holidays. In the past, vacation periods have been planned around these occasions, thus permitting both Christians and others living away from home to visit friends and family in the rural areas. Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, is observed by Muslims across the country. Important traditional occasions are celebrated. These festivals include the Adae, which occur fortnightly, and the annual Odwira festivals of the Akan. On these sacred occasions, the Akan ancestors are venerated. There are also the annual Apoo festival activities of the Akan, which is a kind of Mardi Grass and is held in towns across Ghana.
    In Ghana,  a fetish priest serves a spirit associated with an image or object that is usually kept in an enclosed place called a fetish shrine, often a simple mud hut with some kind of enclosure or fence around it. He (or she, in the case of a priestess) performs rituals to consult and seek the favor of the god of the shrine. Compensation is given in money, liquor, animals, and in some places, human sex slaves called trokosi, fiashidi, or woryokwe. The priest is usually chosen through “spiritual nomination of the shrine” through divination. Many Africans and descendants adhere to their traditions as a philosophical school-of-thought, with traditions of folk religion or syncretism practiced alongside other adherent’s tradition.The essence of this school of thought is based mainly on oral transmission; that which is written in people’s hearts, minds, oral history, customs, temples and religious functions. While generalizations are difficult due to the diversity of cultures they do share some common belief systems. The role of humanity is generally seen as a harmonizing relationship between nature and the super-natural forces.


    When the first Englishmen to visit the Asantehene in 1917 entered the palace, they were overwhelmed by the opulence of the palace and reception they received. They were further dazzled by the sight of ornaments.One of them, T. Edward Bowdich of the African company, wrote that they were not prepared for the scenes of ‘magnificence and novelty’ that burst upon them. This was only over a century ago, when the kingdom of Ashanti had been founded by Osei Tutu. Bowdich’s statement was a tribute to the works of Osei Tutu1, the founder and first Asantehene of the Asante kingdom. Osei Tutu welded a loose union of several Asante state into one unified kingdom with a common festival, a common stool, a common flexible constitution and a common great army well organized under his command as the king of the kingdom and the Asafo companies. Osei tutu was born on Friday and was therefore called Kofi but no one knows precisely where and when he was born. It is speculated by historians that he might have been born around 1636 at Akrokerri Orkenyasa. But Akrokerri seems the probable place of his brith. Osei tutu was the son of Manu Kotosii, a niece of the ruler of Awaman, Oti Akenten, and sister of obiri yeboa, the heir to the stool of kwaman. Osei tutu was therefore the nephew of Obiri Yeboa and heir to Obiri Yeboa. His father was an elder of the kingdom named Owusu Pinyin…….

    Kente cloth, a silk and cotton fabric of bright colors and bold patterns, is prized by the Akan kings of Ghana, who wear it only on special occasions. Kente cloth is woven in strips, which are then stitched together to make ceremonial robes. Joining strips of material together is the signature technique used by the West African artist El Anatsui (1944-  ) to make his hanging sculptures, such as Old Cloth Series (cover). The components of Old Cloth Series are strips of wood that have been incised with grids, distressed with a chain saw, burned with an acetylene torch, sanded to remove the surface scorching, and then marked with symbols cut and painted into the squares of the grid. In a final step, the wooden strips are aligned so they resemble the folds of a weathered bolt of cloth. The art of El Anatsui is a contemporary take on the traditional forms of African art, and the grids, weathering, symbols, and burning of the sculpture offer a perspective on the role of western Africa in international trade….source…….read more


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