Overview of Ghana




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Ghanaian way of life: Ghana has long been exposed to outside influences on its society and culture. To some extent, Islam shapes the society of the north while Christianity is strong in the south. Despite the influence of these world religions, however, much of Ghanaian society continues to be traditional. Most people recognize the place of traditional practices. For example, local chiefs have customary rights to preside over traditional society, and the young respect parents and their elders. An extended family’s elders arbitrate the inheritance of the family’s land, possessions, and social status among its members and to other people in the community. Polygamy (the practice of having more than one wife) is legal, but as the literacy rate has risen, Ghanaians have increasingly chosen monogamy (the practice of having only one wife) as the preferred marital relation. A number of women’s organizations and lobby groups were established in the 1990s. Women are not prohibited from holding public offices nor are they paid less for equal work done. Most Ghanaians throughout the country wear Western attire. Traditional clothing, which is worn usually at local ceremonies and dances, varies among ethnic groups, often taking the form of smocks for men and wraparound dresses for women. Back to top

Arts and Culture: Ghana’s visual art forms, including gold jewelry, woodcarvings, and weaving, were associated traditionally with the royal courts of different ethnic groups. Although the works of artisans continue to serve their traditional functions, they are now also created for the tourist industry. Gold, mined for centuries in Ghana, is worked into weighty pieces of jewelry that traditionally only adorned the Akan king and nobility. The Ashanti people are known for their carved wooden stools, which customarily served domestic and sacred roles. The Golden Stool, the symbol of the Ashanti nation, is the most sacred stool of all. In the second half of the 20th century, the Ga people developed a tradition of building carved and brightly decorated coffins, shaped like animals or objects that celebrate the deceased. Ghanaian weavers produce many different styles of cloth, but the most well-known fabric produced in Ghana is Kente cloth. This distinctive style was traditionally made by weavers of the Ashanti court, using European silk acquired through trans-Saharan and, later, coastal trade.There are two main types of indigenous Ghanaian building styles. Traditional round huts with grass roofing are found in the northern regions. In the south, several adjoining buildings surround a communal compound in the middle of an enclosure. In recent years, however, single-family structures have become more popular, especially in the urban centers.

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Music in Ghana:The most well-known form of Ghanaian music is highlife, which has become popular all across Africa and much of the rest of the world. Highlife arose among the coastal regions of Ghana and, to a lesser extent Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and other English-speaking West African colonies. In the 1920s, the word was coined to describe the dancing of the English colonials to the regimented music of native bands. The word highlife comes from the 1920s, when it was used to describe parties held by the European upper-class to which the locals aspired. There were two types of highlife at the time. Dance orchestras played at the parties of the elite, while poor, rural guitarists played a kind of often-scorned music that was also called palm wine music (the term palm wine has referred to multiple styles from West Africa, but is now more commonly associated with the popular music of Sierra Leone). Originally associated with the Fante people, the guitar-based highlife spread across the country (and, to a lesser degree, abroad). By the early ninetees, a new style of music gradually emerged into the music industry. The name coined for this type of music is Hiplife The Hip means hip hop and life means the well known style - the highlife. The hiplife is blend of hiphop from the Western Culture and Highlife. Back to top

Communication in Ghana:The government runs the country’s two major newspapers, the Daily Graphic and The Ghanaian Times, both published in Accra. Since 1992 a number of independent and party-affiliated newspapers have been established. The government-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation offers radio and television programs in English and several local languages. There are also several private FM stations. The most critical concern of news providers is the issue of press freedom, which was curtailed occasionally from the 1960s to the 1980s. The National Media Commission was established in 1993 as an independent watchdog organization to ensure that the government does not control or interfere with any media provider, private or state-owned. Ghana’s telecommunications system is poorly developed: - in 2001 there were only 11.6 telephone lines per 1,000 people. Consequently, mobile telephone usage is becoming increasingly popular. Access to the Internet is available in almost all parts of the country.