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Ga people

Ga people

Ga people

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The Ga-Adangbe are an ethnic group in the West African nation of Ghana. It is part of the Dangme ethnic group. The Ga people are grouped as part of the Ga-Dangme ethnolinguistic group.

The Ga-Adangbe people inhabit mostly the Greater Accra Plains. Some are found in the Eastern Region at Akuse, Somaya, Dodowa, Akwapim, Akwamu and surrounding areas in Ghana. Others live in the Anecho area in Togo. The modern day Adangbe include the people of Osu, Shai, La, Ningo, Kpone, Osudoku, Krobo, Gbugble, Ada and Agotime who speak similar dialects.

The Ga also include the Ga-Mashie groups occupying neighborhoods in the central part of Accra, and other Ga speakers who migrated from Akwamu, Anecho in Togo, Akwapim, and surrounding areas.

There are about 2,000,000 Ga-Adangbe speakers, making up about 8% of Ghana’s population. Most Ga live in the southeastern coastal region of the country, around the capital of Accra, which the Ga founded in the 1500s as a trading port. The traditional Ga kingdom of Nkran gives Accra its name. Nkran state has been ruled by a succession of kings known as Ga Mantse since its founding in 1510.

The Ga people celebrate the Homowo festival, which literally means “hooting at hunger.” This festival originated several centuries ago after a great famine in Ga land. The passing of this terrible period was marked by celebrating this festival. It takes place every year and is celebrated by all the Ga clans, but in stages by the various groups and “quarters,” beginning with the Ga Mashie and ending with the La.

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The Ada people celebrate Asafotu which is also called ‘Asafotufotufiam’,an annual warrior’s festival celebrated by the people of Ada in the Greater Accra Region from the last Thursday of July to the first weekend of August. It commemorates the victories of the warriors in battle and those who fell on the battlefield. To re-enact these historic events, the warrior dresses in traditional battle dress and stage a mock battle. This is also a time when the young men are introduced to warfare. The festival also ushers in the harvest cycle for this special customs and ceremonies are performed. These include purification ceremonies. The celebration reaches its climax in a durbar of chiefs, a colourful procession of the Chiefs in palanquins with their retinue. They are accompanied by traditional military groups called ‘Asafo Companies’ amidst drumming, singing and dancing through the streets and on the durbar grounds. At the durbar, greetings are exchanged between the chiefs, libations are poured and declarations of allegiance made.

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The Ga-Adangbe are no different from the other ethnic groups in Ghana in their love for music, drumming and dancing. One of their best known traditional music and dance styles (albeit a fairly modern one) is kpanlogo, a modernized traditional dance and music form developed around 1960. Yacub Addy, Obo Addy, and Mustapha Tettey Addy are Ga drummers who have achieved international fame. The Ga are noted for the importance they attach to family or Weku in the Ga language. The Pan African general interest magazine [MyWeku] was inspired and named after the concept of Weku (Family).

Funerals and paying last respects
The Ga people are renowned worldwide[who?] for their funeral celebrations and processions. The Ga believe that when someone dies, they move to another life. Therefore, special coffins are often crafted by highly skilled carpenters. The coffins can be anything wanted by relatives of the deceased from a pencil to any animal such as an elephant. Coffins are usually crafted to reflect an essence of the deceased, in forms such as a character trait, an occupation, or a symbol of one’s standing in the community. For example, a taxicab driver is most likely to be buried in a coffin shaped as a car. These coffins are usually very expensive, as their nature means that skilled carpenters take longer to produce them compared to conventional coffins.

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Many families spend excessive amounts on coffins because they often feel that they have to pay their last respects to the deceased and being buried in a coffin of cultural, symbolic as well expensive taste is seen as fitting. Prices of coffins can vary depending on what is being ordered. It is not unusual for a single coffin to cost $600. This is expensive for local families considering that it is not unusual to meet people with an income of only $50 a month. This means that funerals are often paid for by wealthier members of the family, if such a member exists, with smaller contributions coming from other working members of the family. This is needed as the coffin is only a portion of the total funeral cost that will be incurred.

People residing out of Ghana, such as westerners, are known to have been buried in Ga-styled coffins.

Some scholars believe the Ga-Adangbe people originated to the east of their current location on the Accra plains. Most historians believe that the settlers were established by the 13th century.

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