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29.04.2002 Feature Article

"Tribal" Differences In Ghana:

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I would like to generate a debate on the ‘tribal’ differences in Ghana. It is my fervent belief that the 'tribes'or regions of modern Ghana are inter-related. Recently I attended a function organised by the people of Obomeng in Kwahu district. The history of the township and the environs show that the people migrated from one part of Ghana and moved to different places until they eventually settled at Kwahu district. If one is to trace the origins of most towns and villages in Ghana, one can find the same normadic trend of the original ancestors. The clans were living together at one stage but war and normadic movement in search for fertile land led to the dispersal of the people. The Clan system was highly organised that a man or woman from Brong could visit Fante many hundred miles away and receive food and hospitality from a complete stranger who happen to be of his or her own clan. Even today, if one is stranded in a town or village and reports him or herself to the head of the clan in that village, I do believe he or she would receive a sympathetic treatment. The Akans do believe that a member of his or her clan carries the same blood group. It does not matter if the person lives in the Western, Volta, Central or Northern region of Ghana. He or she classifies himself or herself as a brother or sister and can never marry each other.
Today, together with modern mass communication, Ghanaians travel all over the world. As a result, people tend to marry each other without thinking about tribal backgrounds or differences. Normally, among Akans, one marries outside ones clan. Therefore, due to intermarriages, Ghanaian society is becoming intertwined. In my town, my second cousin has children with a gentleman from the Northern region of Ghana. The man is now residing in my town. His offspring are now citizens of my town.
Above factors have led to my argument that no region of Ghana is composed of only one people, one culture or ethnicity. The regions of Ghana today are all cultural 'hybrids'.
Reading from the Freepress 2002, Nana Kojo II Ankobeahene of Worawora states 'It is always...drummed to the ears of any child that they are Ashantes even though they live in the Volta region'. To be precise, Akans have spread all over the country to Togo, Cote D'Voire and beyond.
Surnames are significant in Akan states too. For example, my name BOAFO, I understand is popular in the Akwapim state. However, my father originates from Adansi state in Ashanti.
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to find out the root of the surname. Because of its popularity in Akwapim, some people assume I am Akwapim. Perhaps my grandfather might have originated from Akwapim and settled in Adansi many years ago.
The late President Kwame Nkrumah came from Anona/Agona Clan. His parents were from Nzema area of western region. Despite the distance, he bore the same blood group as any member of Anona/Agona Clan. Therefore, his father came from the ancestral home of Ntim Gyakari. Therefore, a ‘tribe’ because of historical factors, like ‘race’ or region is the product of human invention. Culture, which defines the groups we know as ‘race’ or ‘tribes’, is NEVER fixed, finished or final. It is FLUID; it is actually and continually MADE and REMADE (Gilroy, 1992) To quote, Aime Cesaire: ‘No race or (‘tribe’ in Ghana my own) possesses the MONOPOLY of BEAUTY, INTELLIGENCE or WISDOM and there is a place for all at the rendezvous of victory. YAW OWUSU ANSA BOAFO FREELANCE SOCIOLOGIST (London, UK)


Yaw Owusu Ansa Boafo
Yaw Owusu Ansa Boafo, © 2002

The author has 2 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: YawOwusuAnsaBoafo

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