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The Problem: Societies are dynamic, and every society has some cultural practices at a given
time to address the challenges, problems and needs of the time. Socio-cultural practices in Ghana
come from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, we tend to use this difference to divide rather
than unite us.
Culture is a set of learned behavior and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society.
It includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, customs and any other capabilities acquired by
man as a member of a society.
Culture is a response by society to meet the problems and the challenges of the time. The
problems and challenges of society change with time. Thus, different practices are developed to
meet the problems that emerge. Any cultural practice that does not solve problems of the time
should be extinguished. Some cultural practices relieve tension and stress e.g. music and dance.
Some features of culture
i. Culture is dynamic: As society keeps on changing to meet the challenges of time,
culture also changes from time to time.
ii. Culture is transmitted: Through socialization, culture is passed from generation to
generation for preservation.
iii. Culture is learned: Culture is not in-born but learned through the process of
socialization in the society one finds himself.
iv. Culture is shared: Members in a society accept to teach and practice the culture of
that society. Example, everybody speaks the language, sing, dance, dress, etc.
v. Culture is universal: Every human society has their own way of doing things. They
have their own language and norms. However, the culture differs from society to
As stipulated in the aforementioned act of the 1992 constitution, we must expunge/abrogate the
practices that disintegrate rather than serve as a unifying force. These practices (whether unifying
or disintegrating) are what are coined in the compound word socio-cultural practices.
Socio-cultural practices are all the distinctive, spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional
features that characterize a society or a social group. It includes modes of life, the fundamental
human rights, value systems, traditions and belief and the arts.

Music and Dance (Relieve tension and stress): The traditional music and dance refer to the
unadulterated type of music and dance performed by Ghanaians in the various ethnic groups. Eg.
Agbadza of the Ewes, Adowa of the Asantes, Kpalongo of the people of Ga and Adangbe and
Bemma of Builsa and Frafra in the Upper East Region. Traditional music and dance is important
because it fosters social cohesion/unity (during celebrations, lots of people come together and
interact with each other); is used to express sympathy (dirges are sung at funerals to share the
grief and to sympathize with the bereaved person or family); is used as a source of entertainment
(many people join to sing, drum and dance to relieve them of their fatigue, tension and
loneliness); source of information (talking drums used to send messages to people) as well as
motivation (during working hours, music is played for people to enjoy while working, boosting
the morale and motivating them to work)
Puberty Rites: Puberty rite refers to the ceremony performed to initiate a girl into adulthood
after menstruating for the first time. It helps in the preservation/transmission of culture (cultural
elements like dressing of the girl, preparing mashed yam, giving eggs to the girl, drumming,
dancing, etc); Acquisition of life skills (how to maintain body during subsequent menstruations,
intensive moral and ethical instructions from societal elders for marriage and motherhood);
Societal Support (gifts are presented to the girl in the form of money and material benefits such
as cooking utensils, earrings); Declaring that the girl is of age and also helps to promote moral
life in the society (since rites insists on girls virginity before marriage).
Marriage Ceremony: This refers to rites performed to bring man and woman together as
husband and wife. It confers honour and respect on the couple, promotes moral uprightness,
legitimate children born to the family and as well fosters unity between the two families.
Chieftaincy: This refers to the condition or state of holding a high office, rank or position in a
clan, tribe or a society. It is a recognized system of government in which societies are ruled or
governed by traditional rulers or chiefs. Some of its significance are that it brings a form of
social control mechanism; brings stability and development in a society and there also the
peaceful transfer of power all things being equal.
Festivals: Festivals are periodic public celebrations to remember, give thanks, honour and renew
allegiance and to commune with the ancestral spirits for guidance and protection. Festivals are
seen as a common trait to the various ethnic groups in Ghana. We have festivals of
harvest/agriculture and festivals of remembrance/ancestors. Festivals unites families and society
(travelling home for celebrations); it fosters national integration (during festivals, people from
different ethnic groups, towns and villages come together as one people to celebrate and this
brings about harmony and stability for societal and national development); Promotion of tourism
Outdooring and Child Naming Ceremony: Usually on the eighth day after the birth of the
child, an outdooring and naming ceremony is performed. It gives a child a social identity,
acknowledges the childs legitimacy and serves as a platform for merry-making.
Also, Asafo companies should be turned into vigilante militia groups in the various communities
to guard against armed robbery, vandalism, etc.

These practices enslave and negate human dignity and have negative effects on
Child betrothal (Forced marriage): Here, young girls or teenage girls are engaged in contract to
be married to men. This is what the akans call asiwa. It is predominantly practiced in the
northern part of Ghana, where young girls are forced into marriage at a tender age. This is a bad
practice teenage mothers are inexperienced and cannot take good care of their children. They
could also have complications during birth, which results in the death of the baby or mother or
both. Teenage mothers are not physically and financially prepared to take up parenting roles. The
education of the girls is also affected.
Widowhood Rites: This refers to the rituals and customs that are performed for a woman upon
the death of her husband. The purpose underlying the performance of widowhood rites is to
prevent the ghost (spirit) of the dead husband from hunting the living spouse, end the
relationship the living spouse and the dead spouse in order to stand firm during the period of
sorrow and grief and to make the living spouse realize the difficulties that lie ahead between of
her as the breadwinner since the companion is gone. This culture is dehumanizing because the
widow sleep with the dead husband, uses stone as pillow during the period of confinement,
swallows the saliva of the dead husband (health risk), shaving all the hairs of a woman and
making her walk bare footed, woman abstaining from food until the husband is buried, putting
pepper in the eyes of the woman, not permitted to shake hands with other people for fear of
transferring the bad omen to other people, not allowing the woman to handle money until 40
days, pulling of the woman with a rope when it is suspected that the woman has a hand in the
death of the husband (violation of human rights)
Trokosi System (vestal virgin): Refers to a practice where a girl, particularly a virgin is sent to a
shrine to atone for sins or offenses committed by a relative. This system is practiced in Ewe
communities specifically around Akatsi, Keta, Adidome and Sogakope. Some of the rituals and
experiences the girl go through are shaving of their hairs, using Calico as their usual cloth, not
wearing shoes, walking bare-chested, not going to town or farm without permission and
observing a number of taboos. The girls finally end up becoming the wives of the priest of the
shrine. Until it is abolished, there is no formal education and acquisition of skills, there is an
element of health risk, lack of opportunity to choose life partners, unfair treatment, lower status
of women and social embarrassment.
Female genital mutilation (Excision/Clitoridectomy): It is a puberty rite normally performed on
girls before they reach the adolescent age. It involves the cutting or removal of the clitoris of the
girl leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual flow. This rite is practiced
among some ethnic groups in Northern Ghana. Some of the ethnic groups are Dagarti, Kasena,
Mossi and Builsa. It is aimed at making girls less active before marriage, helping to maintain
their virginity till they marry, promoting good moral behavior and also aimed at reducing high
sexual desires on the part of women to remain faithful and prevent having sex outside marriage
to promote stable marriage. The operation is so painful that the excess bleeding has resulted in
the death of some girls while others become sterile. They lose sexual sensitivity as well as their
Others are Facial (tribal marks)
Belief in witchcraft
Invocation of river gods for curses
Ritual murders (human sacrifice)
Not working on certain days of the week
Expensive funerals
Ancestral veneration (excessive attention to the ancestors)
These are all negative cultural practices which enslave and negate human dignity and have
negative effects on development.
1. Education: There should be public education to sensitize the populace on the causes,
effects and consequences of the various cultural practices such as early marriages,
widowhood rites, Trokosi system and Female Genital Mutilation. The education will
create the awareness in the people to stand against such practices.
2. The enactment and enforcement of laws: There should be laws passed and enforced by
the government to ban the practice of such socio-cultural practices.
3. Constitutional enshrinement: There should be provision in the constitution that bans such
4. Involvement of non-governmental organizations or institutions: Non-Governmental
Organizations should be involved in the process of elimination. The Commission on
Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) should be involved in the fight
against injustices and human rights abuse and violations.
5. Modification of the practices: There should be the modification or reformation of the
various cultural practices. For example, the atonement of a girl should be replaced with a
cow, goat or sheep.