Monday, March 29, 2010

Ghanaian Culture and Daily Life

Art and Ghana:

Art reflects social, sculptural, political, and philosophical values of the community. Focus on function and the use of art to create spiritual beauty through sacred and secular powers.

Ghanaian art influenced by Islamic and European factors because of trading with Muslims, Europeans, and Christian missionaries.
There was a discouragement of traditional art through Christianity but since independence from British Rule in 1957 there has been a revival to relearn the traditional arts.

Art objects enhance performing arts/ religious life.

Art objects are associated with performance or ceremony and are not meant to be viewed in a museum. The objects created by artists tend to have symbols of spirituality and status.

Festivals in Ghana:

Ceremonies bring the community together as well as ancestors and God.

Symbols in Daily Life:

Pregnancy: women sometimes carry wooden symbols of fertility on their backs to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Child naming:

children are adorned with beads and jewelry

Ceremony into adulthood:

boys are given sculptures or masks to wear to evoke their ancestors as well as learn how to make textiles, leather, metal, wooden and clay items.
Girls are adorned with beads and gold ornaments in their hair, neck, and wrists. After the ceremony she is paraded around the street or set on a stool in front of her house.

Funerals: seen as a celebration of a new spiritual life. Mourners wear special cloth stamped with traditional design. The color worn depends on the age of the deceased. Russet-brown are for those who died young while white is worn for those who lived a long life. The immediate family/ close relatives wear red cloth and headbands.


Akhan symbolism uses thousands of motifs which come from proverbs, historical events, human attitudes, animal behavior, plant life, and objects.

Kente Cloth:

Ceremonial cloth, different textiles are own for specific occasions. The most expensive Kente cloth used to be reserved for kings and royal family members.

The Asante are the best producers of Kente cloth but Kente cloth is also produced by Ewe craftsmen.

Kente is hand made by men on a traditional horizontal treadle loom which is always used outdoors.

Adinkra (Saying Farwell) Cloth:

Adinkras are hand woven in long narrow strips with heavier cotton and less complex patterns then kente cloth.

Adinkra printing is associated with the Ahsante and was developed in the 19th centuray, it was first used by spiritual leaders and royalty but today it is used for festivals, funerals, and rites of passage.

Images on Adinkra Cloth are created using hand carved stamps and combs using natural dyes from the bark of the badie tree and iron slag.

• Oval shapes represent femininity and beauty.
• Half circles represent fertility
• Cross represents piety
• Arrow represents a new life
• Moon and stars represent love, loyalty, and harmony
• Gye nyame (except God) and sonkoft (go back and fetch it) are also symbols seen in Andikras


Wood carvings/ Clay sculptures:

Stools: important people and family heads own stools as a way to provide their souls with a place to rest after death. The Adenkyem-dwa stool used to be found in religious shrines and has imagery of a crocodile with a fish in its mouth representing power. There are stools for kings, queens, men, women, and stools that can be used by anyone. Some stools incorporate Western imagery such as gun powder kegs and padlocks.

Culture and customs of Ghana By Steven J. Salm, Toyin Falola


Hip hop and gospel are emerging outside the music world and are being seen in public forums.

Ghana uses a combination of hip hop sampling, scratching, rap and older forms of Ahansesem story traditional storytelling. Songs use humor and vulgarity to talk about politics, the economy, and class polarization.

“Scenti No” is a song that forms a connection with home and community.

Ghanaian Music:

Aesthetic of the Entrepreneur: Afro-Cosmopolitan Rap and Moral Circulation in Accra, Ghana


Poor neighborhoods (Nima and Labadi)

Wooden shacks with pirated electric wires

Shared out houses

Hand carried water stands

Cultural Influences and the Built Environment: An Examination of Kumasi, Ghana

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