The Family- Ghana

Ghana family 2.jpg

The extended family system is the hub around which traditional social organization revolved. The spread of Western values and a cash economy have modified customary marriage patterns. Christians are expected to have only one wife. Monogamy is further supported by the ability of men to marry earlier than they could in traditional society because of employment and income opportunities in the modern sector. Young men and women have also been granted greater latitude to choose whom they marry. Accordingly, the incidence of both polygyny and cousin marriage is low. There is, however, a preference for marriages within ethnic groups, especially between people from the same town of origin.

Western values, wage employment, and geographical mobility have led to smaller and more flexible households. Nuclear families are now more numerous. Extended family units are still the rule, but they tend to include relatives on an ad hoc basis rather than according to a fixed residence rule. Tradition dictates that family elders arrange the marriages of their dependents. People are not allow to marry within their lineages, or for the Akan, their wider clan groups. There is a preference, however, for marriage between cross-cousins (children of a brother and sister). The groom’s family is expected to pay a bride-price. Polygyny is allowed and attests to the wealth and power of men who can support more than one wife. Chiefs mark their status by marrying dozens of women. Having children is the most important focus of marriage and a husband will normally divorce an infertile wife. Divorce is easily obtained and widespread, as is remarriage. Upon a husband’s death, his wife is expected to marry his brother, who also assumes responsibility for any children.

Studies of African societies generally indicate that within the whole sub region, men and women are expected to marry. As a result, some researchers indicate that in Africa, marriage is nearly universal. Married life is important to many Africans, including Ghanaians, because it is the basis for assigning reproductive, economic, and non-economic roles to individuals. Voluntary celibacy is quite rare

Not only are Ghanaians expected to marry, but it is unthinkable for married couples to be childless

Although the family may be the cornerstone of Ghanaian social life, very little consensus exists on its boundaries. The traditional Ghanaian family is more than the nuclear (conjugal) unit. In everyday usage, the term family is used to refer to both the nuclear unit and the extended family. In Ghana, the latter is often based on kinship or lineage ties. On the basis of lineage ties, two main family systems can be identified in Ghana: the matrilineal family and the patrilineal family. Among the matrilineal Akans, a man’s immediate family would include his mother, his own brothers and sisters, and the children of his sisters (maternal nephews and nieces), and his mother’s brothers and sisters (maternal uncles and aunts). For a woman, this includes her own children and grandchildren plus all those mentioned above. Apart from the wife’s contribution to the household, members of this maternal family traditionally inherited the property of a deceased husband. In contrast to the patrilineal system, under the matrilineal kinship system, children belong to the mother and her family. Thus, kinship ties are more than a system of classification; they involve rights, obligations, and relationships.

“Chronicles Of A Split Liquid (Love Is Blind Marriage Is Eye Opening)” By CARBOO STANLEY EKE coming soon

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