The national folklore board in its bid to sensitize Ghanaians on the culture, history and folklore of our motherland has launched the did you know series. This series is all about providing information to the Ghanaian about past events, people and culture and their origin and significance. The DID YOU KNOW? series consists of interesting folklore facts which addresses our folklore such as our food, language, names, festivals, sites, fashion, songs, gestures, dance, musical, rites of passage, symbols and many more.
The national folklore Board (NFB), is a state agency under the ministry of tourism, arts and culture . It is empowered by the copyright act 2005 (Act 690) and is mandated to administer, register, promote and protect Ghanaian expressions of folklore on behalf of the president and for the people of Ghana.
Did you know, Ananse the trickster-spider is a major character in Ghanaians and Caribbean folklore? Ananse is an every man who mirrors the strenght and flaws of society. Ananse is not only known for his wit ans versatility. But also his dishonesty and charlatanry. Attributes that entangle him in his own web of troubles and disgrace. Ananse stories survived the middle passage ( an era of the slave voyages). And till this day, these stories are recounted in different versions all over the Caribbean and America.
Did you know that the mud-built houses were well situated for Ghana’s tropical climate? It was environmental friendly. Mud as a building material had thermal properties. During the day, mud walls kept the rooms in every household very cool and at night warm. Studying Pre-colonial Ghanaian building techniques can teach us so many things about sustainable environmentally friendly architecture.
Did you know that some European residents on the Gold coast obtained African charms and amulets from their Ga and Fante wives to protect themselves from harm and misfortune? Given the high European mortality rate on the gold coast and the ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating the tropical diseases, many European residents sought local healing remedies to literally stay alive. It is important to note that Africans and Europeans on the Gold coast in the 18th and 19th centuries influenced each others cultures.
Did you know that the “Cedi”, the name of Ghana’s currency is derived from the “sede3”, the Akan word for cowry shells? Beginning in the late 15th century, European slave traders introduced cowries, particularly the variety known as Crypae moneta (money cowries). It was from the Indian ocean to the Gold coast. Cowries became one of several currencies including gold and gold dust before the introduction of bank issued notes and coins at the end of the 19th century in 1965. Ghana changed it currency from Ghanaian pound to the Cedi in recognition of the cultural value of the cowry shells.
Did you know that the world famous Adinkra symbols has its origins in the Asante invasion of Gyaman in the early 19th century? According to legend, following Asante defeat and deportation of the King Adinkra of Gyaman to kumasi, he began to design a cloth with symbols and patterns that were thought to express his grief. Today, Adinkra symbols are well know pictographs that communicate deep philosophical and theological ideas.
Did you know that the trusty Trotro takes its name from the word in Ghana’s Ga language “tro”? Tro refers to the the three pence fee it used to cost in colonial times to travel on the bus.
Did you know that referring to our ancestors as “illiterates or non-educated is actually a colonial era racist trope that degenerates their intelligence? Colonial anthropologists insisted that African societies that lacked a writing system were not sophisticated. And described them as “backward, “tribal” and non educated.
On the contrary, non-literate African cultures had an education system based on impressive memory and oral skills and knowledge of nature, the environment, politics, diplomacy, law and cultural forms. This was passed down from generation to generation. H.W von Hesse
Did you know that without African missionaries, Christianity wouldn’t have taken root in Ghana? Given the high mortality rate of European missionaries on the Gold coast, the vast majority of missionaries were actually Ga, Fante, Akuapem Ewe and to some extent even Afro Caribbean. The contributions of African Christians in establishing and sustaining schools like the famous Mfantsipim school (est. 1876) in Cape coast has been completely marginalized or ignored. H. W von Hesse
Did you know that there were African writing systems? Those ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Tifinagh script of the Berber or Amazigh people in north Africa and the west African Sahel. The Ajami script ( modified arabic used in Muslim societies) the Ge’ez or the Ethiopian alphabet. The Bamum script of northern Cameroon, the Nsibidi of the Igbo people, the Vai script of Liberia and several others.
H.W von Hesse
Did you know that the maroons of Jamaica, many of whom can trace their lineage back to modern Ghana, use the abeng or cow horn for social occassion? They included births, marriages and deaths. The abeng was also used during their wars with the british in the 1700s to communicate between Maroon villages. – MissBee writes
Did you know that some precolonial Ghanaian cultures had a keen sense of geographical knowledge and map making skills? in literate Muslim societies such as the Islamic kingdom of Dagbon, there were experts cartographers. In non-literate cultures such as Asante, officials of the royal court possessed an immense mental map of the extent of their territory and vassal states. Asante messengers could also calculate the extent to which one could trek to the vast reaches of Greater Asante. A territory which by the early 19th century was slightly bigger than Great Britain or the state of Oregon in the United States.
Did you know that before the introduction of Christianity, Ghanaians did not have any concept of Satan or the devil? in the 19th century, the Basel Missionaries translated the Akan, Ga and ewe word “Sasabonsam” ( “Bonsam”, bonsam) to mean Satan or devil. However in local folklore, Sasabonsam was neither the enemy of God nor humankind. He was rather a harmless, mischievous monster who inhabited the forest and played pranks on unsuspecting people. Despite the now negative connotation, the name Bonsam is associated with people born on Wednesday among sections of the Akan people.
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