The relevance of culture for the Diaspora Ghanaian* – Ade Sawyerr

IMG_8697Discussing culture is difficult because a lot of people these days confuse culture with tradition and indeed sometimes with the issue of modernity and then complicate it religion.

At one extreme are the so called post-modernists whose argument is about jettisoning overboard traditions because they inhibit development and are relics and shackles that have no relevance in the modern world; at the other extreme are the fundamentalists who believe that culture must be sustained in a particular traditional mode without context. I like to think that I can occupy the centrist ground on this and many other things because I abhor dogma and I am devoid of ideology even in things political.

Culture, in my understanding, is the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and other products of human work, though attitudes that characterise the functioning of a group or organisations. I hold the view that culture, if you understand the meaning of the word, is relevant at all times because it shows enlightenment and depicts aspects of cultivation and training that cannot be lost at anytime.

The world changes but some constants remain, every day brings the birth of newborn babies, people get married and since we all come into this world with a return ticket, people die. All over the world people have their quaint rituals they practise under such circumstances; they have rituals that give meaning to their life and identity.     Continue reading “The relevance of culture for the Diaspora Ghanaian* – Ade Sawyerr”

How can the brain drain be turned into a brain gain – Ade Sawyerr

The Ade Sawyerr Blog

How can the brain drain be turned into a brain gain – Ade Sawyerr

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Ever since the 2011 census figures were released there has been some much talk of immigration.  The talk has now turned toxic as one minister in government puts it and some of think that this probably is the time to have an intelligent debate on the issue devoid of the unreasoned emotion and noise of political prejudice.

No one wants to focus on the positive aspects of the contribution of immigrants to the diversity of the often drab British life, or the great moves towards integration and the enrichment of the British culture.  No one complained that Britain was a small island when its empire spanned the world and it had dominion over all and sundry, but now that only a small proportion of that empire wants to come to Britain suddenly everyone is complaining about the size of the island and the fact that the whole…

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E. A. Ammah, “Annual Festival of the Ga People,”

IMG_4996                                                                                                                                    [In the August and September 1961 issues of The Ghanaian, E. A. Ammah, “an authority on the Ga language, history, and customs” discussed parallels in the Ga Homowo and the Jewish Passover celebrations.  These “parallels” included similarities in calendars, prayers, protective rituals, and festive harvest meals.   In the October 1962 Ghanaian, Mr. Ammah laid out four possible explanations for these ritual parallels without committing himself to any of them.  M. Kilson]

I.             E. A. Ammah, “Annual Festival of the Ga People,” The Ghanaian (August 1961): 9,11.

W. C. Willoughby in his book “The Soul of the Bantu” shows the value and significance of festivals in the life of the African people as a whole.  Wherever these festivals are celebrated, the background is identical.  The most remarkable and striking point is that the origins are associated with the Israelites.

Writing about the feast of the first fruits, Willoughby quotes Kidd as “this feast is divided into two portions, a little festival which is attended only by the great festival men of the nation and the great which all warriors are obliged to attend.”  The former, we are told, is agricultural and the latter is pastoral.  Willoughby concludes: “the tribes amalgamated an agricultural and a pastoral spring festival, somewhat as the Hebrew nomads did after they settled down to agricultural life in Canaan.”

Further, writing about the joyful features of feast, Willoughby has this to say: “The feast of the Lord in Shiloh, and the vantage feast in Shechem, are so much after the pattern that one cannot possibly mistake of thinking it peculiar to the Bantu.”  The Hebrew feasts, he continues, “were occasions of joyful merry-making, when the festive throng expressed itself in a type of jubilant exultation….It is a far cry from the Bantu idea of worship to the noble conception set forth in the Gospel According to St. John; but the path that man has travelled is being travelled by man.”

This sketchy introduction indicates that the African Personality is immanent in our culture; therefore, we are potentially united in spirit and in truth.  The interesting point to repeat is that, the cultural identity or background of the festivals pervasive in other areas of States in Africa, are also pervasive in Ghana.  The Ga  Homowo Festival, which is identical to the Hebrew Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, is a typical example.

It would scarcely be appropriate to write on the Homowo Festival without making a brief reference to the origin of the Ga People.  The general opinion is that “Ga civilization is as original as the Hebrews’.”  It is distinctly also true in all that stands for Hebrew worship.

The basis of Ga religion is enshrined in their three great annual festivals, namely, Homowo, Nmaayeli and Nmaatoo which have a very close and intimate parallel connection with those of the Jews or as one aptly put it “are reminiscent of the three annual festivals of the Jews,” namely the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering.  One very essential characteristic of them is that all are harvest  festivals in which their religious feeling finds practical and inward expression in rituals and ceremonies.  No one who has made a critical study and impartial comparison of the Ga forms with those of the Jews will fail to be struck by the very close similarities between them.  One is indeed tempted to draw the conclusion that the ancestors of the Ga people interlard with the Jews or were probably an offshoot of them.  The collective name of the Ga people is Ga or Gaga, or Loiabii or Olai abii.

        Continue reading “E. A. Ammah, “Annual Festival of the Ga People,””