Students: Traditions important in Ghana

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The International Student Center’s bi-weekly International Coffee Hour hosted a presentation on Ghana last Friday.

The Ghanaian presence on campus is small; currently, only three students attend K-State from this African country. Two of the three students, Kate Osei-Boadi and Alex Acheampong, both graduate students in human nutrition, shared with students and community members several aspects of the Ghanaian culture.

Ghana is a small sub-Saharan African country, located on the west coast. Though they are small enough to “have just one main international airport,” Osei-Boadi said Ghana is “very rich in culture.”

As a former British colony, Ghana’s rich culture begins with rich history. Several regions and tribes are united under the historic struggle for independence. The colors on the flag of Ghana symbolize a few main aspects that the country has become united over; red represents the bloodshed to gain independence, gold represents the mineral wealth of the country and green represents the importance of agriculture within the country.

Though the Ghanaian people share the same history, they are split into numerous regions and ethnic groups. Osei-Boadi is from the western region, part of the Akan ethnic group and belongs to the Ashante tribe.

Each tribe and ethnic group participates in their own festivals and traditions.

“Everything they do is very symbolic,” Osei-Boadi said.

Osei-Boadi described the wedding ceremony tradition that takes place in her tribe.

“The first day he comes to my house, we call it ‘knocking,'” Osei-Boadi said about a man pursuing a woman in marriage.

After knocking, the man meets the father of his future bride, who then double-checks with his daughter to make sure she knows who the man is. The second step of the process involves the bride’s father providing a list of gifts he requires the man to give to the bride and her family.

“It’s very nice to be a woman in my country,” Osei-Boadi joked with the audience.

On the day of the wedding, the groom must give a payment to the brother or brothers of his bride.

“He has protected me from other men,” Osei-Boadi said of the reason for the gift.

Acheampong shared information about the attractions that can be found in Ghana.

He talked about Kakum National Park in central Ghana, which boasts a 300-foot-high suspension bridge attached to trees at both ends. Acheampong said people can enjoy the scenery of the country at the park. He also talked about Cape Coast Castle, built on the coast by Swedish traders in 1653.

“This is the place President Obama stayed when he visited Ghana,” Acheampong said.

Acheampong pointed out two different types of housing that are typical of Ghana. He said Ghana has modern housing, but many people live in smaller huts with grass roofs.

An advantage of the grass roof, Acheampong said, “grass gives it a very, very cool temperature within.”

Another commonality in Ghana is the marketplace.

“You don’t just see something and buy it,” Acheampong said. He said the marketplace is a place for bartering down the original price of a given item.

As highlighted in the flag of Ghana, mineral wealth as well as agricultural wealth is very important to the country. Gold, bauxite, timber and cocoa are among the most important exports from the country. Acheampong, however, said the cocoa is a little different than what most Americans are used to.

“In Ghana, most of our chocolate is just pure chocolate,” he said.

Closing his presentation, Acheampong highlighted the importance of soccer in Ghanaian culture.

“On every Sunday, we stay glued to our TVs and enjoy soccer,” he said.

Acheampong was proud of his team for participating in this year’s FIFA World Cup and has high hopes for the future.

“Next time, I assure you we’ll win,” he said.

Several students frequent the International Student Coffee Hours. Courtney Hooper, junior in anthropology, is one of those students.

“I go to coffee hour because I love hearing international students talk about their home,” Hooper said.

This week was especially intriguing to Hooper.

“I knew so little about Ghana,” she said. “But the presenters covered so much and were very personable, even using their own family photos to illustrate traditional marriage practices.”

Hooper said she always enjoys the presentations because “free coffee would make just about anything worthwhile.”

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