GHANAIAN CULTURE AND TOURISM
Century old traditions of the people of Ghana, coupled with the diversity distinct ethnic groups, have created a rich culture that is the splendid legacy of modern Ghana. To the people of Ghana, the traditions of their ancestors are still an important part of daily life. Traditional leaders have historical authority over tribal and family matters, and customary lands are an important heritage.
Photo: A cultural dancing in a festival.
Important events in life are marked by special rites and rituals. Child naming, puberty initiations, marriage and death are marked by family ceremonies, while seasonal festivals bring a whole people or clan together in spectacular fashion.
Many festivals include thrilling durbars of chief, when tribal leaders and Queen Mothers process in decorated palanquins, shaded by traditional umbrellas, and supported by drummers and warriors discharging ancient muskets.
In Ashanti, the Adae and Akwasidae festivals vividly bring the splendour of the Asante kingdom to life, when the Asantehene (King), adorned in all his gold regalia, comes out to receive the homage of his people. The Asantehene's dancers, praise-singers and horn blowers surround the King and his procession in never-to-be-forgotten spectacle.
Photo: The Asantehene, king of the Ashantis, one of Ghana's largest ethnic groups.
A cultural tourism programme called The Slave Route has been initiated by African countries and UNESCO to rehabilitate, restore and promote the heritage handed down by the slave trade. Countries all over Africa are conserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period in order that today's tourist can appreciate the dark impact of this era.
A careful study of Ghanaian festivals reveal some common features and beliefs. The first and foremost is the belief in life after death and in the nearness of dead ancestors to their living descendants. Some of the major festivals are the Odwira, celebrated by the Akan people of Akwapim, Akwamu, Denkyira and Akyem; the Yam Festival, celebrated by the Akan people of Aburi-Akwapim and several Ewe groups of the Volta Region; the Aboakyir festival of the Effutus of Winneba; the Akwambo festival, celebrated by the Fantes of Agona and Gomoa; the Hobgetsotso festival of the Ewe people of Anlo; the Homowo festival, celebrated by the Gas of Greater Accra; the Damba festival of the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana; the Bakatue festival, celebrated by the people of Elmina; the Nmayem festival of the people of Odumasi-Krobo; the Asafotufiam festival f the people of Ada and the Adae and Akwasidae festivals of the people of Asante.
ETIQUETTE IN A GHANAIAN VILLAGE
Ghanaians are a conservative people, tourists are encouraged to be descent in their dressing. Take off shoes when entering a sacred ground and do not take photographs without permission. Do not enter any house unless invited in. Greet people by shaking the right hand, and do not offer any gift using the left hand. A welcome drink should always be accepted, and at least a sip should be taken. If a gift is required for a chief or fetish priest, a bottle of local schnapps is appropriate.
LANGUAGES AND LITERATURE
English is Ghana's official language. Ghanaian authors therefore, continue to write in this medium with some success, evidenced by the acceptance of Ghanaian manuscripts for publication overseas. There is a strong Ghanaian Association of Writers (GAW) promoting creative writing and whose active participation in the Pan African Writers Associations (PAWA) perhaps, contributed to making Ghana the seat of PAWA. The latter has embarked on a programme of cultural promotion, and its regular lectures and workshops are becoming an important feature of the Ghanaian cultural scene.
In spite of the use of English as an official language, local languages have not been neglected. Indeed, one of the organisations under the National Commission on Culture is the Bureau of Ghana Languages. The Bureau has been carrying on since 1951, the tradition of writing in Ghanaian languages established by the missionaries who in their time produced a high quality newspaper in Twi, (Kristofo Senkekafo) and in Ga, (Kristofonyo Sanegbalo) and several textbooks.
Among the languages promoted by the Bureau are Akan, with its various dialects of Akwapim, Asante and Fanti; Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kassem, Agbani and Dagare. Among its achievements is the translation of some of the classics such as Odysseus, direct from Greek into Akan. Its members of staff and other authors have published plays, works of poetry and novels in these Ghanaian languages.
As part of preserving Ghana's heritage, several museums have been opened besides the Ghana National Museum. The latter nevertheless remains the most significant effort in the field. The museum started in the Archaeology Department of the University College of the Gold Coast. Subsequently, a permanent home for it was found in Accra where the collections were brought. There remains however, at the Archaeology Department, a small museum which is worth visiting because of the unique collection based on the activities of the university's archaeology staff.
HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
Ghana attained independence from British colonial rule on March 6, 1957. While under colonial rule, the country was known as the Gold Coast. The country was named after an ancient and powerful empire which flourished in West Africa during the 10th Century.
Photo: The Independence Arch is a monumental arch to commemorate Ghana's Independence in 1957.
Ghana became a Republic in 1960 with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, leader of the Convention Peoples' Party as the country's first President. Under the administration of the Convention Peoples' Party (CPP) the country made remarkable progress in education and social services, in addition accelerated efforts at industrial and infrastructural development. Ghana under the CPP also played a leading role in the African liberation struggle and promoted African Unity. The country was equally active in the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement of which it was a founding member. The first Republic was overthrown by coup d'יtat in 1966.
Constitutional government was restored in 1969, but the Government of the Progress Party led by Dr. K. A. Busia which formed the 2nd Republic was similarly overthrown in 1972. Dr. Hilla Limann and the Peoples' National Party (3rd Republic) met a similar fate in 1979.
Constitutional rule was re-established (4th Republic) in 1992, with a new constitution accepted by the people of Ghana in a referendum. Under the Provisions of the 1992 Constitution, the President and members of the National Assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage. They may be elected for a maximum two (2) terms, while members of the legislature for four (4) years.
The King of the Ashantis