Adinkra are traditional symbols that pass on the wisdom
of Ghana and West Africa.
While Ghana’s history goes back thousands of years; the current tribal groups that make up the country were settled in the area by the 1400’s. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to make contact along the “Gold Coast”, as Ghana was then called, in 1471. By 1481 they constructed a fort at El Mina and within a few years were exporting a thousand pounds of gold per year. In the coming years many other European nations followed and built forts to exert their influence along the coast. The Dutch and the British established a strong presence and over the years the Europeans competed and fought over control of the rich resources. In the 1700’s emphasis shifted from exporting gold to the slave trade. The British continued to grow in influence and power and by 1844 had consolidated their power and began exercising considerable control over much of the area along the coast. In 1902 the British annexed the Asante and Northern Territories. In 1921 Trans-Volta Togoland was seized from Germany and the Gold Coast Colony took on much of Ghana’s present day form.
In the coming the years the British began to develop the infrastructure and resources of the area. In time, indigenous residents were brought into government and with the rise of nationalism on March 6, 1957 independence was gained and the new nation took the name Ghana. On July 1, 1960 Ghana became a republic and Kwame Nkrumah was elected president. In the mid-1960’s Ghana experienced it first coup and entered into a period of political unrest. A new constitution and democratic elections were held in 1992 with Jerry Rawlings being elected president. He was reelected in 1996. In 2000 John Kuffuor, of the opposition NNP party, was elected as president. President Kuffuor was reelected in 2004. Ghana’s upcoming presidential elections will be held in December 7, 2008.
Ghana’s capital is Accra. The nation is divided into ten regions: Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Western, Volta, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and Northern. Each region is divided into districts. In additional to Ghana’s government there is still a system of chieftaincy throughout the country. At the head of a tribal group will be a paramount chief with his elders and sub-chiefs. While the government deals with affairs of state, criminal offences, etc. – chieftaincy deals with land distribution, non-criminal offenses, cultural issues, etc. When visiting an area it is always a matter of courtesy to inform both the local government authority and chiefs of one’s visit and activities.
The population of Ghana is now nearing 24 million, approximately 40% of these being under the age of 15. Life expectancy is 60 – primarily due to disease, accidents and an infant mortality rate of 5%.
Ghana has several major tribal groups. Some of the major divisions are: Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7% and Ga-Dangme 7.3%. English is Ghana’s official language. Seventy-nine languages are spoken in Ghana with the major languages being Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Brong 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%.
Ghanaians are a very religious people. 69% profess to be Christians; 16% practice Islam with most of the remaining following traditional beliefs. Most like Saul, in all good conscience, practice their faith and are regular in their attendance and involvement with their religious communities. Many like the Ethiopian in Acts 8, read the scripture regularly and welcome the offer to study the Bible further. Some like the Macedonian in Paul’s vision, entreat us to come over and help.
While the people of Ghana are very diverse in their histories, languages and religious beliefs - they are united in their national pride, friendliness, hospitality, resourcefulness and resilience. Over the years Ghana has become a model for many nations seeking development and democracy.