As Ghana celebrates 60 years as an independent nation we take a look at some of the African nation’s culture and traditions.
There are over 70 ethnic groups living in Ghana. The biggest groups are Akan, Moshi-Dagbani, Ewe, and Ga. The Ashanti tribe of the Akan is the largest. With so many different ethnic groups there are many different languages spoken in the country and many Ghanaians will be multilingual. While English is the official language and taught in schools from an early age, of the languages indigenous to Ghana, Akan is the most widely spoken. The Akan languages appear in a diverse number of dialects with Twi the most spoken language in Ghana.
The majority of Ghana ‘s population of over 25 million live and work in rural areas. Only about a third of the population lives in urban areas. The capital, Accra, is home to over 2 million people and the region around Accra (Greater Accra) is the most densely populated in the country.
Music and Dancing in Ghana
Ghana is probably well known for its people wearing colourful attire and their passion for music and dancing. In Ghana, “culture” is a term used to describe traditional drumming, dance and song performed by “culture groups”. Ghana Culture Groups were first formed during the steady urbanisation that occurred in Ghana during the second half of the 20th Century. After gaining its independence from the British in 1957 it was a way to re-embrace its culture and traditions.
In modern Ghana, music is divided into distinct genres including: traditional folk music (preserved true to its ritualistic heritage in the more remote villages); culture music (a hybrid of traditional and more modern folk music, performed mainly in urban areas); highlife (pop music of 1960s-1970s combining folk with modern electric instruments); gospel music (modern religious music, pop and often reggae influenced); hiplife (music of the current western-influenced generation, fusing hip hop with African pop music). (You can read more at Drum Africa who also put on African drumming classes in London)
Djembe drum Ghana
A djembe is a skin-covered hand drum shaped like a large goblet and meant to be played with bare hands.
According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes directly from the saying “Anke dje, anke be” which literally translates to “everyone gather together” and defines the drum’s purpose. In the Bambara language, “Dje” is the verb for “gather” and “be” translates as “everyone”.
Jollof rice is one of Ghana’s most popular dishes
A favourite dish all over West Africa is jollof rice or Benachin (one pot) as it also sometimes referred to. It’s typically served up at celebratory get-togethers. Although there is much debate over best ingredients and recipes depending on different African countries variations a typical jollof rice would consist of rice, tomatoes, tomato paste and any number of variable meats, spices (such as nutmeg, cumin and ginger) and vegetables. It is said to have originated from the Wolof tribe in Senegal, the Gambia. In Ghana the dish is sometimes accompanied by fried plantations.
Ghana cocoa production
Ghana used to be the leading producer of cocoa up until around the late 1970s when it was overtaken by the Ivory Coast. At its peak it was estimated to have produced 30-40 % of the world’s cocoa. The commodity price crash of the 1970s and later droughts and bush fires in the early 1980s saw production in Ghana fall from a third of the world’s total in 1972 to just 12% of total world production.
Although there are cocoa farmers in Ghana in more remote western parts of the country were rural poverty is widespread, the liberalisation of the cocoa industry in Ghana in the 1990s did open up new opportunities for lots of other farmers. The UK’s Divine Chocolate Company is a fair trade chocolate company which is 44% owned by a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana. Thus means cocoa farmers receive both a Fairtrade bonus plus a share of company profits.
With the Republic of Ghana celebrating their 60 years anniversary of Independence this year here is part one of our two part feature focusing on some of the history of the west African nation and its culture and traditions.
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