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ISSN 2348 – 0319 International Journal of Innovative and Applied Research (2015), Volume 2, Issue (5): 107- 120
Journal home page: http://www.journalijiar.com INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL
OF INNOVATIVE AND
THE RELEVANCE OF AFRICAN CULTURAL VALUES TO SOCIETYA case study of cultural values of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area Emmanuel Kofi Bempong School of Applied Science and Technology, Department of Liberal and General Studies,Sunyani Polytechnic, Post Office Box 206, Sunyani, Ghana, West Africa.
Every society in Ghana has its cultural values that are adhered to as a societal norm guiding the people. These values are relevant to the society in diverse ways, for example, it is a taboo for an individual within Akyem Abuakwa to cut a tree near River Birim. This is a way of conserving the environment. This paper examined the cultural values of the people of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area in the Eastern Region of Ghana and their importance. This study aimed at drawing the link between cultural values and its relevance in the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area. The paper was mainly based on field surveys, personal observations, literature review and consultations with stakeholders. The recommendations among other things indicate that the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area has a wide range of cultural values which have so many relevance to society. These values need to be preserved in order for the society to get the maximum benefits.
Key Words: Cultural, Environment, Traditional, Norm.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Introduction In Ghana, most ethnic groups, tribes or clans have certain peculiar cultural values. Each cultural value has reasons behind its observations. The benefits are enormous to that particular society and the entire country. The Akyem Abuakwa people, like other Akan ethnic groups, has cultural values which have been upheld from the days of their ancestors till today. In the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area, cultural practices such as the celebration of the Ohum and the Odwira festivals,the strict observation of taboos, the declaration of certain forest as sacred groves, certain animals such as Leopards as totems by some clans as well as the conservation of the river Birim are all cultural values that are adhered to by both citizens and non citizens of the traditional area. Again the respect and observation of the chieftaincy institution all together are to let the society benefit from the importance of these cultural values which range from morality, governance, environmental conservation as well as the maintenance of peace. The increased interest in indigenous cultural values is due to a paradigm which tends to support the new order of using cultural values as a tool for sustainable development. It stresses that development is more easily achieved if it is tied to the cultural values of the people.
Statement of the problem African cultural values in recent times are being threatened by modernity and westernization and the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area is no exception. The problem therefore is how indigenous people can sustain the observations and practices of African culture values in order for the society to benefit from its relevance. The study therefore aims at revealing the relevance of cultural values of Akyem Abuakwa traditional area in order for the society to continue its observations and practices.
Objectives of the Research i.Identify and explain the key socio -cultural beliefs of the Akyem Abuakwa people.
ii.Establish the relevance of cultural values and practices of Akyem Abuakwa to the society.
Significance of the research i.The study will contribute immensely to knowledge in indigenous traditional methods of conserving cultural values for sustainable development.
ii.The study will also be a reference material for future researchers on cultural values in Africa and other related ISSN 2348 – 0319 International Journal of Innovative and Applied Research (2015), Volume 2, Issue (5): 107- 120 studies.
iii.The study will also be a source of teaching moral and social studies in schools in the community and elsewhere.
iv.The study is also supposed to resuscitate the minds of the people in Akyem Abuakwa traditional area to be conscious of the wisdom and knowledge embodied in cultural values in the traditional area.
v. The study will be a guide to Akyem Abuakwa traditional leaders, citizens and policy formulators in the traditional area. Policies on conservation of water bodies and forest belt can be formulated based on the study.
vi. The study will assist in the general observation of traditional values resulting in moral, health and recreational uses as well as the preservation of historical, ancestral sites and place of abode for wild animals such as monkeys, birds and elephants
The research hypothesis The research was conducted under the assumption that certain socio -cultural values such as sacred groves,
totems,taboos, festivals are still relevant to the people. The following research questions were tested:
i.What are the cultural values of Akyem Abuakwa?
ii.How do people know about cultural values of Akyem Abuakwa traditional area?
iii.What are the usefulness of cultural values such as totems and taboos ?
Limitations of the research
The research had the following limitation:
Firstly due to the bad road network in the area of study, the research assistants had difficulties in accessibility to the research sites, even though they finally got to the various destinations successfully.
Secondly the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional area records a lot of rains throughout the year with the exception of December and January and because of that the researcher had problems in conducting the research during the rainy season in the traditional area.
Thirdly some of the inhabitants are non citizens of the area with different languages, therefore the researchers had problem of language during the research and in some cases has to engage an interpreters.
Finally despite all these challenges the research assistants helped in the successful collection of data.
Delimitation of the research The research and its findings are limited to the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area. However this does not negate the relevance of the study and knowledge to apply to conditions prevailing in other traditional areas of the country.
Methodology The research design was exploratory which is a tool employed in order to conduct research into a problem that is not clearly defined and therefore attempt to lay the groundwork that will lead to future studies. The format for the research was Historical and Descriptive research approach used in both qualitative and quantitative methods of research. Historical research deals with explanation of records of past events to an individual for a clearer understanding of the past and for predictions of the future to be made. This will include philosophy behind the cultural values. A historical study of the chieftaincy institution as well as historical analysis of documents of the traditional area was made.
ISSN 2348 – 0319 International Journal of Innovative and Applied Research (2015), Volume 2, Issue (5): 107- 120 Descriptive research is the collection of data for the purpose of describing and interpreting existing conditions, prevailing practices, beliefs, attitudes and ongoing process. In the study, descriptions of various cultural values as they exist and their relevance such as the observation of taboos in the traditional area were all made.
Study Population The targeted population for the study were citizens and non citizens who reside in the traditional area. These include knowledgeable people, Elders in the community, Clan or family heads, traditional priest, linguist, chiefs and Queen mothers.
Research instruments Questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions were some of the instruments used for the study. A semi structured interview guide was designed for the in-depth interview which includes open ended as well as close ended questions. The key informants interviewed were Clan or family heads, traditional priest, linguist, chiefs, Queen mothers and social studies teachers in the traditional area. It took an average of 30 minutes to conduct an interview on the study. The reason was to have in-depth knowledge about the cultural values of the various communities.
Primary data Qualitative and quantitative methods were used for the study. The respondents were purposively selected base on their in-depth knowledge in cultural values. These include traditional leaders, opinion leaders, family heads, land owners and social studies teachers in the community.
Literature review This was done through the review of information in books such as:West African Traditional Religion by Quarcoopome(1987),The Role of religion in the institution of chieftaincy: A case study of Akans of Ghana by Awuah –Nyamekye(2009),Community institutions in resource management by Ampadu–Agyei(1990).The internet was equally used extensively.
Akyem Abuakwa People The Akyem Abuakwa people are part of the Akan ethnic group located in the middle forest belt in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Presently it covers three major districts. The Atiwa district which covers about 1, 12km2, the East Akyem district which covers 725km2 and the Fanteakwa district which covers about 1,150km2. The Akyem Abuakwa traditional area account for about 10% of Ghana’s total population of 24 million people. Some of the major towns in the traditional area are Kyebi, Anyinam,Kwabeng, Apedwa,Osiem, Asafo,Akim Apapam, Old Tafo, Begoro and Asaman Tamfoe. The traditional area experiences an annual rainfall of about 1,250 millimeters with two rainy seasons, the major rainfall season from April to July and the minor one which stretch from September to October.The traditional area has a lot of rich virgin forest which still remains intact. The area is blessed with caves and waterfalls Such as the Tini Falls.The Akyem Abuakwa people were one of the early Akan groups who migrated from the Songhai Empire to the Adansi Kingdom and later on broke away from the Ashanti kingdom in the 16th century during the reign of king Osei Tutu I. After crossing the Pra river to settle at the banks of it they were pursued by King Osei Tutu I in his effort to teach them a lesson as a subservient state that has revolted against its masters. However, he was attached and killed on the river by a group of the Akyems called the Abuakwanfour or Abuakwafo translate to mean Guerrilla fighters.
Kumi(1976) in his book the kings of Akyem Abuakwa and the ninety nine wars against Ashanti,acknowledges the movement of the Akyem Abuakwa people from Adansi in the Ashanti around 16th century during the reign of King Osei Tutu I.
The first king was Nana Kuntunkunuku 1 referred to as Odiahenekan.The Akyem Abuakwa people settled at Kyebi from the word kyebibirie ( named after the black hat) during the reign of Ofori Panin in1733. There were other Akyem groups who also left Adansi and settled in other part of the Eastern region namely Akyem Bosome and Akyem Kotoku with their capitals in Oda and Swedru respectfully. (Kumi, 1976) ISSN 2348 – 0319 International Journal of Innovative and Applied Research (2015), Volume 2, Issue (5): 107- 120 Figure 1.Map of Akyem Abuakwa Source: Atiwa District Assembly (2013) Concept of culture / Akyem Abuakwa cultural values The Oxford Advanced learner’s Dictionary defines culture as the refined understanding and appreciation of art, literature, etc.It is a state of intellectual development of a society, customs, arts, social institutions etc. of a particular group of people. (Eleventh Edition, 2006) The UNESCO world conference on cultural policies held in Mexico city in 1982, defined culture as ‘The whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group.’ It includes not only arts and letters but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs.( UNESCO report,2010) Taylor(1871) a British cultural Anthropologist in his book ‘primitive culture ‘defined culture as ‘that complex whole which include knowledge, beliefs, arts, law,custom, moral and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society ‘The definition means that all the cultural values of a people can be shared and experienced by a group inhabiting that area either through learning or being forced to be part of the practices.
Knoeber and Kluckholn (1952) defined culture as an abstraction from behavior. They therefore stressed on learned behavior to ideas in the mind, logical construct, a statistical fiction, a psychic defense mechanism etc. To them culture is a man –made environment brought into existence by the ability to symbol, culture has a life of its own, it is a continuum of things and events in a cause and effect relationship. It flows down through time from one generation to another. Mpereh(1979) defines culture as a way of life of a given society in its entirety. This includes the language of the people, their philosophy, their learned and shared patterns of behavior and understanding which are expressed for example in religion, language, law, art and customs as well as material products such as house cloths and tools.
ISSN 2348 – 0319 International Journal of Innovative and Applied Research (2015), Volume 2, Issue (5): 107- 120 Kanay and Kraybill (1999) described culture as a set of tangible and intangible elements including things like diet, tools, technology, language and values that give shape and meaning to everyday lives of a particular group of people.
Culture according to Williams (1965) is also an agreement among a society‘s members about the appropriate behaviours, values, beliefs, history, heritage, rituals that should be respected and observed and so on.
Thaman(2003) defines culture as a shared way of living of a group of people, which includes their accumulated knowledge and understandings, skills and value, as expressed and constructed in their language which is perceived by them to be unique and meaningful.