Traditional set up and Ethnic Diversity
The district is made up of three (3) Traditional/Areas namely Tepa Traditional Area, Manfo Traditional Area and Mabang Traditional Area with three (3) Paramount Chiefs. The majority of the people are Ashanti’s who form about 70% of the population; however, there are other tribes like the Brongs, Ewes, Akuapims and Northerners in the district. The common language spoken is Twi.
Owing to the fact that majority of the settlements unit are occupied by settler farmers who migrated during the cocoa booming period, some are apathetic when it comes to communal activities. Nonetheless in areas where the people have built up social cohesion there is good communal spirit. Again, in communities where chiefs have been proactive and instituted local penalties to communal labour absentees, there is improved voluntarism among the youth who actively participates in communal labour towards the development of their communities.
The people are mostly Christians who constitute more than 70% of the population. Others are Moslems and only a few Fetishes who serve the only shrine in the Tepa Traditional Area called Barnie Shrine. It is believed that the shrine gives spiritual protection to the people and could expose thieves, witches, wizards and even murderers to light. This fact also accounts for the peaceful atmosphere in the district. The Shrine is also believed to have a cure for infertility. In this regard, it is believed to have helped some barren women to have children both within and outside the district.
Adumasa and Barnie shrine
This shrine can be located at Tepa. As already indicated above, it is believed that this Shrine gives spiritual protection to the people and all forms of evil acts against the people, including stealing and murder. The Shrine could expose thieves and murderers making the area a very peaceful place to live. The Shrine can also help women who are barren to have children. The children can be identified by a patch of grey hairs on the front part of the head, white spots on some parts of the body and are fair-coloured. Many of these children from the Shrine are at Tepa now. Many people, especially foreigners, would like to visit such a Shrine which was once very powerful.
Attitudes and practices
As a common practice in Ashanti, the people in the Ahafo Ano North District are very hardworking and hospital people who have worked tirelessly to enhance the economic status of the District. However migration of the youth has rendered farm work virtually left in the hands of the aged thereby affecting recent productivity levels. The women among the youth drop out of school as a result of pregnancy and have no work to do. In addition to the above, those who have migrated to the District Capital Tepa loiter about not doing any work. Probably thing flat the Government could find work for them to do bereft the requisite employable skills.
The people in the district actively participate in all cultural activities in all their endeavours namely the pouring of libation, child naming ceremonies, marriage rites, funeral rites, celebration of Akwasidae and other festivals.
A common ritual is performed on young girls and this is known as ‘BRAGORO’.This is performed on the young girls to prepare them for marriage. This rite is performed when the young girl reaches her womanhood, in other words, after her first menstrual cycle. The girl’s mother sends her to the Queen mother to examine her to verify if she is not pregnant. After the Queen is satisfied that no pregnancy exists, the young girl is dressed like a Queen and seated in public with the breasts exposed for men to witness for themselves that the young girl is ripe for marriage. Gifts from her parents, friends, and well-wishers are displayed around her.
The elderly women and friends beat the Donno drums and sing songs to praise her for living a decent life up to her maturity. From this stage she is sent to the river side to be bathed by the elderly women and to entreat the gods to find a suitable husband for the girl and to give her children too. She is sent home and kept indoors for seven days and all these times she is being treated like a Queen.
After these rites, the girl can continue her education, learn a vocation or her hand could be given in marriage. The importance of this Puberty Rite is to protect the young girl from pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancy and abortion. In times past, girls who become pregnant and do not undergo the Puberty rites were banished from the town together with the man who made her pregnant.
The Ashantis regard Festivals as very important occasions because this is the time the Chiefs who are custodians of our land and culture exhibit the rich culture to the outside world, make family gatherings and plan development projects for the area. In the Ahafo Ano North district, the Akwasidae Festival is celebrated in all the Traditional Areas and the Yam Festival is celebrated by the people of Tepa Traditional Area.
It has been the tradition of the people in the three (3) Traditional areas to meet the Chief, the Queen mother and the Elders at the Chief’s Palace to celebrate the festival. The Akwasidae Festival comes on every forty days which means it is celebrated nine times within a year. On this occasion, the people wear white clothes and converge at the Chief’s Palace. The Chief, the Queen mother and the Elders also meet at the Stool House to pour libation to our ancestors for peace and prosperity.
After the libation, the chief meet the people at the Palace to discuss issues concerning the Traditional Area, they identify problems in the past in order to make amends and to plan ahead for the next forty days. Minor cases among the people including quarrels and land disputes are settled amicably to avoid unnecessary litigations at the law court. Gifts especially drinks are presented to the Chief. The Chief serves the people with drinks to end the Festival.
This Festival is celebrated by the people of Tepa Traditional Area to ask for blessing, peace and prosperity from the gods of the land. The night before the festival, the Fetish Priest of the Barnie Shrine together with other invited Priests and Priestesses keep vigil while dancing and drumming and then perform rituals to usher in the Festival and to make it an incidence free occasion.
The Chief, Queen mother and the Elders visit the Shrine to pour libation to the gods for peace and prosperity in the area. After the libation, the Chief dresses in a beautiful Kente Cloth with golden ornaments around the head, golden necklace and rings on the arms and fingers. He then rides in a palanquin beautifully decorated through the principal streets of Tepa amidst drumming and dancing by the teeming crowd, all dressed in white clothes. The Chief, while in the palanquin, responds to the cheers from his people by waving a white handkerchief.
He is brought to the durbar grounds to sit in state and receive homage from the people. Many dignitaries are invited to the Festival including the President of the Republic of Ghana and the Asantehene. The Chief uses the occasion to outline development projects being carried out in the area to the people and to solicit for help either in cash or in kind. Appeal for funds is also made and the proceeds are used for on-going projects
There are no chieftaincy or Ethnic conflicts in the district. All the three (3) Paramount Chiefs as well as the people live together peacefully and as a result communal spirit is high in the district. The chiefs use the people in communal labour to provide some basic necessities like toilets and schools as well as clearing water sites, cleaning gutters, sweeping the streets and weeding along the lorry roads.
Marriage and Divorce
Marriage rites are performed by the man who intends to marry a woman to the family of the woman. The man together with his family will meet the woman’s family and present money and drinks to ask for her hand in marriage. After this negotiation, the man sends the woman to his house as his wife.
Likewise in case of divorce, if the woman decides not to marry, she has to return the drinks to the man. On the other hand, if the man divorces the woman, the man has to pay a certain sum of money to be decided by the elders from the two families as compensation to the woman.
Negative Attitudes of the People towards Culture
Although people in the District actively participate in cultural activities, there are a lot more who show negative attitudes. This stems from the fact that majority of the people are Christians who have relegated culture to the background and usually see some of the customary rites as fetish especially puberty rites. Again these Christians in the District do not like the Adowa and the Nnwomkro groups and therefore do not engage their services at all instead of helping to sustain these cultural groups for posterity.
Some of the people are also not interested in providing Alcoholic drinks when performing marriage rites and would not allow the family head to pour libation on such occasions all in the name of Christianity. Thus allowing some foreign cultures to adulterate our rich culture.
Problems besetting Development of culture
There is one major set-back which is fast relegating Culture to the background. This is the situation where majority of the people who are Christians regard Culture as a thing of the past and evil. Many are the people who are not prepared to allow their daughters to undergo Puberty Rites with the excuse that it is fetish. Many people also refuse to join or allow their children, wives or husbands to join any traditional music group being Adowa or Nnwomkro and would not even allow them to dance to the tune of a traditional music with the same excuse that it is fetish.
This is the reason why many of the traditional music groups have collapsed because their services are no more needed at even funerals. People again do not show interest in the Yam Festival celebrated in the Tepa Traditional Area anymore because it is perceived to be connected with the Barnie Shrine and therefore regarded fetish.
Implication for Development
Culture can be used as a tool for creating wealth for creating wealth for the people. The youth can be trained in various traditional vocations like Kente weaving, basket weaving, pottery, soap making, native sandals, batik, tye and dye etc. There is therefore the need to build a cultural village for the District to train the youth to acquire skills in these vocations to improve their living standards.
Two Tourism potentials have been discovered in the district which when developed can be another source of income to the Assembly.
This can be found at Asuhyiae in the Manfo Traditional Area and as the word confluence implies, it is a point where three big rivers meet giving the town its name. These rivers are Tano, Abu and Kwasu. As the waters of Abu and Kwasu want to join the swift flowing Tano which flows straight to the sea without joining any river, the waters of Tano seem not to allow the rivers to join it; always pushing them back and this process continues day and night creating a very beautiful scenery, mostly school children or students to be precise, would like to see as they meet the word confluence in their Social Studies or Geography lessons.
Grotto Sacred Spot
A Roman Catholic Priest called Rev. Father Theresa Paul Amoako discovered this place which is the highest spot in the district at Manfo about nine kilometres from the district capital. When one stands on this highland, one can see all the communities around the area far and near.
When Rev. Father Theresa discovered this spot, the Traditional Rulers in the area warned him that the place was inhabited by wild animals, dangerous snakes and evil spirits. But the Rev. Father would go there in the night to pray. Through constant praying and fasting at the spot, the Father grew from strength to strength spiritually and this made the other church members follow him. He named the spot “Victory Grotto of the Lady Mary” and this spot has now become a sacred spot of worship for the Catholics and Non-Catholics throughout the country. Thousands of Christians flock to this spot to pray for spiritual powers all the year round and if attention is given to it, the Assembly can generate revenue from the numerous visitors.
Challenges facing tourism in the district
The Assembly has a lot to do to develop the various tourist sites to improve the existing situation in order to attract tourists. In the case of the Grotto Sacred Spot, for example, a better road has to be constructed from Akwasiase to the site at Manfo, about 7 kilometres away as the present road is muddy in the rainy season and dusty in the dry season; a major factor which if not improved, can turn away tourists. A lorry park, canteen, a better place of convenience, bathhouse, urinal and a stairway have to be constructed at the site.
Similarly, a better road has to be constructed to the confluence at Asuhyiae. Projects like Canteen, Car park, place of convenience just to mention a few, have to be carried out at the site. The Tepa Traditional Council has to be assisted financially by the Assembly to build a wall around the Shrine and to improve the present standard at the site to attract tourists.
In respect of the Mfante and Asikam Locked-up Building built by the Whitemen, the Assembly have to contact, the Chief or the inhabitants of the area to learn the history of this building; what the Whitemen came to the area to do, when they came there, their purpose in putting up the building, and their place of origin. All these pieces of information have to be gathered to brief tourists. Should it happen that the origin of those Whitemen is found, the Embassy of their place of origin in this country (if any) can be contacted for financial assistance to develop the site into a tourist centre in their honour as it has happened at Bekwai District Assembly. (The Embassy of Netherlands is putting up a Cultural Village at Bekwai in appreciation of the discovery of old graves of two Soldiers from Netherlands some years ago by the District Cultural Office.)
Places of interest to attract tourism in the district are:
1. Barnie Shrine in the Tepa Traditional Area
2. Manfo Grotto in the Manfo Traditional Area
3. Asuhyiae Confluence in the Manfo Traditional Area
Date Created : 11/15/2017 1:36:49 AM