When most people think of Ghanaian culture, they might think of kente cloth and jollof rice, but there is so much more to this vibrant country and what it has to offer, Ghana is also home to a plethora of interesting cultural facts that you may not have known before.
As a country with a rich and vibrant culture, Ghana has a lot to offer to the world. Ghana is a country in West Africa known for its beautiful beaches, rich culture, and diverse wildlife.
If you’re planning to visit Ghana or you simply want to learn more about the culture, there are a few things you should know beyond the famous Ghana Jollof
- The Importance of Naming Ceremony in Ghanaian Culture
In Ghana, names hold significant importance, and a child’s name often reflects their personality or the circumstances surrounding their birth. The naming ceremony, also known as “outdooring,” is a special event held within the first week of a child’s life. During the ceremony, the child is officially named in the presence of family, friends, and community members.
Unique to every tribe in Ghana,the ceremony is held to officially introduce a newborn baby to their family and the community, and to give them a name that represents their identity and future aspirations.
It is often held outdoors, hence the name “outdooring,” and involves several rituals, including the pouring of libations, reciting of prayers, and the presentation of gifts.
During the ceremony, the baby is bathed, dressed in traditional clothing, and presented to the community by the father or an elder in the family. The name of the baby is usually chosen based on the day of the week they were born. For example, if you were born on a Monday, your name would be Adwoa or Kwadwo. This is usually based on the family’s aspirations for the child’s future. In some cases, the name may also reflect the baby’s personality traits or unique qualities.
- Ghanas Unique Talking Drum
Music plays an integral part in Ghanaian culture. From the highlife and hiplife genres to the traditional Adowa and Kpanlogo rhythms, Ghanaian music is a unique blend of soulful melodies and lively beats that reflect the rich history and diverse culture of the country. At the heart of this vibrant musical tradition are the talking drums – a unique percussion instrument that has been an essential part of Ghanaian music for centuries.
Also known as “dondo” in Akan the talking drums are made from hollowed-out wood, and the heads are typically made of animal skins that are stretched across the ends of the drum, the talking drum produces different tones and pitches that can mimic the tones and intonations of the Akan language.
In the past, talking drums were used to convey messages across long distances, with skilled drummers able to communicate complex messages through the beats.
- The Adinkra Symbols: A Rich Cultural Heritage
Adinkra symbols are a series of visual symbols that are used extensively in Ghanaian culture. Each symbol has its own meaning, and they are often used to decorate clothing, pottery, and other items.
Adinkra symbols are also frequently used to convey messages, with certain symbols used to express specific sentiments or emotions.
- The Ghanaian Language and thier Unique Way of Greeting
In Ghana, the way of greeting is unique and differs based on the time of day and the person being greeted.
In the morning, people often greet each other by saying “Me ma wo akye ” which means Goodmorning and often check up on the persons wellbeing by saying “Eti sen?” which means “How are you ?”
In the afternoon, people greet each other by saying “Me ma wo aha ” which means Good afternoon and often continue by saying “Edzuma mu tse sen ” which means “How is your work?” or Hows the day going
When greeting an elder or someone in authority, it is common to show respect by bowing or curtsying.
Greeing an elderly person in Ghana
- The Coffin Art
In Ghana, coffins are not just functional items used for burial; they are also works of art. Coffins are often custom-made to reflect the personality, profession, or interests of the deceased. For example, a fisherman might be buried in a coffin shaped like a fish, a teacher might be buried in a coffin shaped like a book while a pilot may be burried in a coffin shaped in an airplane
Known in Ghana as abebuu adeka, the origins of the coffin art tradition can be traced back to the Ga people of Ghana, who believed that the coffin was the final resting place for the soul of the deceased. They believed that the coffin should reflect the life and personality of the person who had passed away. The tradition of creating fantasy coffins has since spread to other parts of Ghana, and today, it is a well-known aspect of Ghanaian culture.
Coffin art is practiced by a small number of highly skilled craftsmen who create the coffins by hand using local materials such as wood, paint, and varnish. The coffins are often designed in the shape of an object or animal that reflects the occupation or personality of the deceased.
- The Unique Festivals
Ghana is a country rich in culture, and one of the most vibrant ways this is expressed is through the many festivals celebrated throughout the year. These festivals are a way to honor and celebrate the diverse ethnic and cultural heritage of the Ghanaian people, and they are a source of pride and unity for the entire nation.
Damba Festival – The Damba Festival is celebrated by the Dagomba people in the Northern Region of Ghana. The festival is held to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed and to celebrate the arrival of Islam in the region. The highlight of the festival is the “horse riding ceremony,” where participants ride decorated horses and perform acrobatic stunts.
Homowo Festival – The Homowo Festival is celebrated by the Ga people in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The festival is held to commemorate a period of famine in the Ga community’s history and to give thanks for the eventual end of the famine. The highlight of the festival is the “Kpledjoo” or “yam festival,” where participants offer yams to the gods in thanks and ask for their blessings.
Aboakyir Festival – The Aboakyir Festival is celebrated by the people of Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana. The festival is a celebration of bravery and is marked by a “deer hunt,” where young men compete to capture a live deer with their bare hands. The deer is then presented as a sacrifice to the gods, and the rest of the festival is spent in celebration and feasting.
Hogbetsotso Festival – The Hogbetsotso Festival is celebrated by the Anlo people in the Volta Region of Ghana. The festival commemorates the exodus of the Anlo people from Notsie, a town in present-day Togo, to their current home in Ghana. The highlight of the festival is the “Kente Dance,” where participants wear colorful kente cloth and dance to traditional drumming.
Bakatue Festival – The Bakatue Festival is celebrated by the people of Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana. The festival is held to mark the beginning of the fishing season and to seek the blessing of the sea god for a bountiful harvest. The highlight of the festival is the “fishing ceremony,” where participants cast a net into the sea to catch fish as an offering to the gods.
- The Ghanaian Beads
Beads have been an important role in Ghanas culture for centuries, and they are often used to make jewelry, clothing, and other decorative items. Beads are also used to convey messages, with certain colors and patterns used to express specific sentiments or emotions.
The most popular Krobo beads, for example, are made by crushing glass bottles into a fine powder and then pouring the powder into clay molds. The molds are then heated in a kiln until the glass fuses together, creating a unique bead.
Beads play an important role in Ghanaian culture and are used in a variety of ways. They are often used in traditional ceremonies such as weddings, naming ceremonies, and funerals. During these ceremonies, beads are worn as a symbol of status, age, and gender.
- The Hand Gestures
The West African handshake is used in Ghana, where the middle finger snaps the middle finger of the person you are shaking. The louder the snap, the better
In Ghanaian culture, hand gestures are an important means of communication. Certain gestures are used to convey specific messages or emotions, and they can be used to express respect, gratitude, or sorrow. For example, placing your right hand on your chest is a sign of respect, while raising your hand with your palm facing outwards is a sign of surrender.
- The Popular Ghanaian Dish
Aside from the famous Ghana Jollof, there are other popular Ghanaian dishes that are worth trying. Banku and Tilapia is a staple dish made from fermented corn and cassava dough, and grilled tilapia fish.
Waakye is a rice and beans dish often served with spaghetti, fried plantain, and meat or fish stew. Kenkey is a cornmeal dish that is similar to banku, and is often eaten with soup, stew, or grilled fish.
10. The Music and Dance
Ghana is home to a wide range of music styles, including Highlife, Hiplife, and Gospel. Highlife is a popular music genre that originated in Ghana in the early 20th century and is characterized by its fusion of African rhythms and Western instruments.
Hiplife is a modern style of music that blends hip hop and highlife, while Gospel music is a popular form of Christian music that is often played in churches and at religious events.