Posted by / Tuesday 4 September 2018 / No comments

How Ghanaians express religious and philosophical ideas

Accra Ghana West Africa Africa Monument Am

The European explorers who came to the shores of the then Gold Coast believed that the indigenous people were idol worshippers who needed to be converted to Christianity and a "modern" form of lifestyle. However, the adherents of African Traditional Religion also believed that they knew a Supreme Being called Onyankopon, Mawu or Nyonmo, long before the coming of the European. Over the centuries, the traditional people have observed man, the society, the world around them and how all these related to their Supreme Being and have arrived at certain conclusions which they express in religious and philosophical ways.

Kente and adinkra cloth
One of the ways in which the pre-colonial Ghanaian expressed his religious and philosophical ideas is through the things printed or designed in their traditional cloths. The hand-loom is usually used in weaving the fabric where intricate designs are woven into the cloth and all the designs have their meanings. The things that the various designs say expresses their religious and philosophical ideas.

Another ingenious way the pre-colonial Ghanaian expressed his religious and philosophical insight is through pottery. Clay was widely used and mostly women were involved in this trade and in the process of finishing their handiwork, before it is fired, they express their inner ideas about the world around them and how they or others have experienced it. In other cases, after the pot is fired, various colours are used to draw their philosophical and religious ideas beautifully on the pot.

Ghana Africa Village Live Traditionally Tr
Wood carvings
Traditional Ghanaians used wood carvings to express their religious and philosophical ideas. Wood carving is common today but in the olden days it was restricted to very few skillful people who were believed to have been gifted by the gods. Carving was done under the strict supervision of the Chiefs, clan elders and religious leaders. Through these skillful men and the supervision of their leaders, the religious and philosophical ideas and ideals of the community were expressed. The carved wooden stool of the King of Ashanti symbolized the unity of the kingdom.

Traditional paintings
Painting and other artistic drawings on walls were also used as a representation of the religious and philosophical ideas of the people of Ghana. A very common painting in Ghana is that of a bird with the head turned toward the back. The traditional people believe that when a mistake is made, one can go back and correct that mistake and it will not be counted as a crime. Another common artistic impression is the “Gye Nyame” symbol. The symbol is used to impress upon the people that only God is capable of certain things in life.

In an article titled “Akan proverbs about death” Dr. Joseph Brookman-Amissah wrote in his introduction that “In a culture which depends much on oral tradition, proverbs perform the important task of encoding the philosophical outlook, religious conceptions and the world views of society in a digestible form.” Proverbs represented how the people thought in those days and this was handed down from one generation to the other many centuries ago. They were used to convey traditional knowledge, ancient religious and other instructions. It constitutes one of the ways in which Ghanaians express their religious and philosophical ideas.

1. In what ways did the people of Ghana express their religious and philosophical ideas in the pre-colonial times?


Related Posts