Culture of Ghana
Ghanaian culture is a diverse mixture of the practices and beliefs of many different Ghanaian ethnic groups.
Ghanaian cuisine and gastronomy is diverse, and includes an assortment of soups and stews with varied sea foods and most Ghanaian soups are prepared with vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.
Fish is important in the Ghanaian diet with tilapia, roasted and fried whitebait, smoked fish and crayfish all being common components of Ghanaian dishes.
Banku (Akple) is a common Ghanaian starchy food made from ground corn (maize) and cornmeal based staples, dokonu (kenkey) and banku (akple) are usually accompanied by some form of fried fish (chinam) or grilled tilapia and a very spicy condiment made from raw red and green chillies, onions and tomatoes (pepper sauce).
Banku and tilapia is a combo served in most Ghanaian restaurants. Fufu is the most common exported Ghanaian dish in that it is a delicacy across the African diaspora.
The Ghanaian national literature radio programme and accompanying publication Voices of Ghana was one of the earliest on the African continent. The most prominent Ghanaian authors are novelists; J. E.
Casely Hayford, Ayi Kwei Armah and Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who gained international acclaim with the books, Ethiopia Unbound (1911), The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) and Tail of the Blue Bird (2009), respectively.
In addition to novels, other literature arts such as Ghanaian theatre and poetry have also had a very good development and support at the national level with prominent Ghanaian playwrights and poets Joe de Graft and Efua Sutherland.
During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies.
Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethology, plant life-form, or shapes of inanimate and man-made objects.
These are graphically rendered in stylised geometric shapes. The meanings of the motifs may be categorised into aesthetics, ethics, human relations, and concepts.
The Adinkra symbols have a decorative function as tattoos but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment.
There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs.
In the words of Anthony Appiah, they were one of the means in a pre-literate society for “supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief”.
Along with the Adinkra cloth Ghanaians use many different cloth fabrics for their traditional attire. The different ethnic groups have their own individual cloth.
The most well known is the Kente cloth. Kente is a very important Ghanaian national costume and clothing and these cloths are used to make traditional and modern Ghanaian Kente attire.
Different symbols and different colours mean different things. Kente is the most famous of all the Ghanaian cloths.
Kente is a ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom and strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths.
Cloths come in various colours, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions.
In a cultural context, kente is more important than just a cloth and it is a visual representation of history and also a form of written language through weaving.
The term kente has its roots in the Akan word kɛntɛn which means a basket and the first kente weavers used raffia fibres to weave cloths that looked like kenten (a basket); and thus were referred to as kenten ntoma; meaning basket cloth.
The original Akan name of the cloth was nsaduaso or nwontoma, meaning “a cloth hand-woven on a loom”; however, “kente” is the most frequently used term today.
Contemporary Ghanaian fashion includes traditional and modern styles and fabrics and has made its way into the African and global fashion scene.
The cloth known as African print fabric was created out of Dutch wax textiles, it is believed that in the late 1800s, Dutch ships on their way to Asia stocked with machine made textiles that mimicked Indonesian Batik stopped at many West African ports on the way.
The fabrics did not do well in Asia. However, in West Africa mainly Ghana where there was an already established market for cloths and textiles the client base grew and it was changed to include local and traditional designs, colours and patterns to cater to the taste of the new consumers.
Today outside of Africa it is called “Ankara” and it has a client base well beyond Ghana and Africa as a whole. It is very popular among Caribbean peoples and African Americans; celebrities such as Solange Knowles and her sister Beyonce have been seen wearing African print attire.
Many designers from countries in North America and Europe are now using African prints and it has gained a global interest. British luxury fashion house Burberry created a collection around Ghanaian styles.
American musician Gwen Stefani has repeatedly incorporated African prints into her clothing line and can often be seen wearing it. Internationally acclaimed Ghanaian-British designer Ozwald Boateng introduced African print suits in his 2012 collection.