Cultural Practices in Ghana

In recent times most cultural practices in Ghana are either widely accepted, illegal, shunned, taboo, or termed as human rights abuse.

Cultural practice is the manifestation of a culture or sub-culture, especially in regard to the traditional and customary practices of a particular ethnic or other cultural group.

Cultural practice is also a subject of discussion in questions of cultural survival. If an ethnic group retains its formal ethnic identity but loses its core cultural practices or the knowledge, resources, or ability to continue them, questions arise as to whether the culture is able to actually survive at all.

What is the purpose of cultural practices? one may ask, cultural practices guide us to direct our attention to aspects of our material and social surroundings in ways that produce powerful cognitive outcomes.

The beliefs that are learned and shared across groups of people are termed cultural beliefs, cultural beliefs are passed on from generation to generation because the amount of information in culture is too large for any one individual to master, individuals know different subsets of the cultural knowledge and thus can vary in their cultural competence.

Customs, laws, dress, architectural style, social standards, religious beliefs, and traditions are all examples of cultural elements. Some basic and minor cultural practices in Ghana are the handshakes, ‘You are invited’, The left-handed insult, No music before Homowo, Neon-pink chickens, Keeping the dead, and so many more…

However, some cultural practices in Ghana tend to bring development while others hinder them. Below would be the common list of 5 major positive and outmoded cultural practices in Ghana.

Cultural Practices in Ghana

Positive Cultural Practices in Ghana

1. Birth Rites

This is a common cultural practice in Ghana, it is performed for newly born babies to introduce them to society. This normally takes place on the 3rd or 4th day following birth. Members of the family would gather up together to make merry, feast, sing, and dance as they welcome the new addition. Elders of the family will then go on to make declarations in order to bring the rite to success

2. Male Circumcision

Circumcision entailed the painful excision of the foreskin as a mark of initiation. It is a written history From the days of Abraham who was first commanded of God to circumcise every male in his flock, this practice has been done from one generation to the next. This was the entry point to adulthood among the people of the masculine gender.

3. Marriage Rites

The legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman). The culmination of this is what is called marriage; the coming together of people of the opposite sex who have a desire to live together. This is one of the most common and generally accepted cultural practices in Ghana.

4. Puberty Rites

After the child naming ceremony, puberty rites are the next set of rituals of social status transformation which children undergo in Ghanaian culture. The most well-preserved puberty rites are the Dipo, of the Krobo ethnic group and the Bragoro of the Ashanti. These ceremonies mark the entry of young women into adulthood. In Ghana, only a small section of ethnic groups usually found in the northern parts of the country have initiation rites for men and when they occur they are done in secret and not given as much prominence as that for young women.

5. Selecting and Installing a Chief

This is one of the most important practices amongst the tribes in Ghana as the Chiefs play important roles in governing people. All ethnic groups have a Chief to lead them. Chiefs are selected to occupy a vacant stool or skin. Chiefs in Southern Ghana are enstooled while Chiefs in the North are enskinned. Those responsible for selecting the next Chief are called the Kingmakers. The Queen Mother nominates the new Chief

Outmoded or Negative Cultural Practices in Ghana

1. Female Genital Mutilation

Female circumcision is not a transition from childhood to adulthood as in the latter but mutilation and the highest disregard to humanity. It entails the removal of the genitals, not the foreskin as in the latter. These cultural practices in Ghana were so the girl would maintain their sexual purity until marriage as the painful ordeal would hold them back from engaging in any sexual relations before then.

Thanks to education and ongoing research about the female body, female genital mutilation is gradually on the south trend. The effect of outmoded cultural practices in Ghana sadly would even be death. The consequence of female genital mutilation is excessive bleeding, blocked or complication during childbirth some of which could even get fatal. Besides, this was an infringement of their human rights not forgetting the use of an unsterilized tool that could spread infections.

2. Child betrothal and marriage

This means that a girl is married off before the age of puberty. Parents would make the negotiations concerning the planned marriage for their daughter without their consent. This was done by some unremorseful parents due to poverty, especially in the Northern region where people are living in abject poverty. Poverty is associated with these negative cultural practices in Ghana. About 70 % of the families in Northern Ghana are poor with 71% of them being illiterate and 79% of the children not attending school.

3. Widowhood rites

This is one of the most archaic and barbaric cultural practices still performed in certain places around the world. The victims of this type of outmoded custom are always women (widows). Here, when a woman loses her husband, she is made to undergo the cruel rite of sleeping next to her husband’s dead body for a night. After this, she is forced to undergo the following:

  • She is made to shave her entire hair.
  • She is made to fast for several days (normally three days).
  • The cruelest aspect of it involves the widow being forced to drink the water that was used to bathe the corpse of her late husband.

4. Trokosi System

Trokosi is a cultural practice that is still practiced in many African countries such as Ghana, Togo, and Benin. What happens here is that when a family member of a young girl commits a crime against the gods of the land, the young girl is sent to a fetish shrine as a form of the atonement of the sins committed by the elderly member of her family. In the shrine, the young girls are made to serve both the fetish priests and the so-called ‘gods’ of the shrine for several years. In most cases, the girls spent the rest of their lives serving the shrine. Some of them eventually get impregnated by the fetish priests or get married to them.

5. Tribal Marks

The tribal marks are normally done on the faces of babies as they are born. The instruments used in making these tribal marks include very sharp knives or blades.
This is done with the intention of giving identity to victims of this tribal mark so that everybody who sees the wearer of the tribal mark knows what tribe he or she is coming from. There are so many reasons why this custom is considered outmoded and barbaric. Some of the reasons include the following:

  • Depending on the severity of the tribal marks, a beautiful person can turn into a very ugly person. This makes it very difficult for the child in future as it can bring about serious self-esteem problems for the child.
  • Putting tribal marks on the face of a child without his or her consent is a massive infringement on the fundamental human rights of the child.
  • During the process of performing the tribal marks, infections can set in since the cutting instruments that they use are normally not properly sterilized.
  • It is also a painful experience for the baby.
  • In many parts of Africa, tribal marks often lead to tribalism. A typical example of this is in the northern part of Ghana where tribal marks have often resulted in tribalism.

Most cultural practices in Ghana are turning to fade out due to certain circumstances but the above remains the outstanding ones prepared by Ghanani.

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