The Ga-Dangbe, Gã-Daŋbɛ, Ga-Dangme, or GaDangme are an ethnic group in Ghana and Togo. The Ga and Dangbe people are grouped respectively as part of the Ga–Dangme ethnolinguistic group. The Ga-Dangmes are one ethnic group that lives primarily in the Greater Accra of Ghana. Ethnic Ga family names (surnames) such as Tagoe, Dodoo, Lartey, Nortey, Aryee, Poku, Lamptey, Tetteh, Ankrah, Tetteyfio, Laryea, Ayitey, Okai, Bortey, Quaye, Quaynor, Ashong and Kotei.
Under their great leader King Ayi Kushi (Cush) (1483-1519) they were led from the east in several states before reaching their destination in Accra. It is believed that they started their journey from somewhere close to the Niger River in modern Nigeria. This leader is the Moses of the Ga-Dangme people, with his seven (7) puritan laws he gave them and that has formed the basis and philosophy of the state, making the state a friendly state recognised by all in respect to making Greater Accra Region the capital of the then Gold Coast in 1877.
The Ga people were organized into six independent towns (Accra (Ga Mashie), Osu, La, Teshie, Nungua, and Tema). Each town had a stool, which served as the central object of Ga ritual and war magic. Accra became the most prominent Ga-Dangme towns and is now the heartbeat and capital of Ghana. The Ga people were originally farmers, but today fishing and trading in imported goods are the principal occupations. Trading is generally in the hands of women, and a husband has no control over his wife’s money. Succession to most offices held by women and inheritance of women’s property are by matrilineal descent. Inheritance of other property and succession to male-held public offices are by patrilineal descent. Men of the lineage live together in a men’s compound, while women, even after marriage, live with their mothers and children in a women’s compound. Each Ga town has a number of different cults and many gods, and there are a number of annual town festivals.
The Dangme people occupy the coastal area of Ghana from Kpone to Ada, on the Volta River and South Atlantic Ocean along the Gulf of Guinea and inland along the Volta River. The Dangme People include the Ada, Kpone, Krobo, Ningo, Osudoku, Prampram, and Shai, all speaking Dangbe of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. The Dangme People have the largest Population among the two related Ga-Dangme People. About 70% of the Greater Accra Regional Land is owned by the Dangmes located in Dangme East and Dangme West Districts of Ghana. Also, in the Eastern Region and Volta Region of Ghana, about 15% of lands belong to the Dangme People. These are mainly in the Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo Districts of the Eastern Region. In the Agotime Area of Volta Region and the Dangme Area in the Southern part of Togo.
Dangme occupations are fishing, trading and farming which is based on the huza system. In this system a tract of land is acquired by a group of people, usually members of an extended family; the land is subdivided among them according to the amount each has paid, and each individual thereafter has complete control of his own section. Negotiations with the seller are carried out by an elected huzatse (“father of the huza”), who later acts as the huza leader and representative. Millet was formerly the staple food, but more common crops now include cassava, yams, corn (maize), plantain, cocoa, and palm oil. Lineage members generally return to the traditional lineage home from the huza farms several times a year to participate in the festivals of their lineage gods. There are also many annual festivals.
The Ga-Dangme are organized into clans based on patrilineal descent; the clans are subdivided into localized patrilineages, the basic units of the Ga-Dangme historical, political, cultural Tribal group.
Arts and culture
The Ga people celebrate the Homowo festival, which literally means “hooting at hunger.” This festival originated several centuries ago. It is celebrated in remembrance of a great famine that hit the Ga people in the sixteenth century. It is mainly a food festival which celebrates the passing of that terrible period in Ga history. It takes place in August every year and is celebrated by all the Ga clans.
The Dangbe people from Ada celebrate the Asafotu festival, which is also called ‘Asafotufiam’, an annual warrior’s festival celebrated by Ada people from the last Thursday of July to the first weekend of August. It commemorates the victories of the warriors in battle and is a memorial for those who fell on the battlefield. To re-enact these historic events, the warriors dress in traditional battle dress and stage a mock battle. This is also a time for male rites of passage, when young men are introduced to warfare. The festival also coincides with the harvest cycle, when these special customs and ceremonies are performed. These include purification ceremonies. The celebration reaches its climax with 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 are made.
The Dangbe people from Odumase – Krobo also Celebrate the [Ngmayem] festival, An Annual Harvest festival to Celebrate the bounty harvest of their farmers is celebrated by the Krobo people throughout the last week (Seven days) of October with a visit to their famous Ancestral home, the Krobo Mountains [Kloyom] on the last Friday of October with a climax on the Saturday with a grand Durbar of Chiefs and People of the Krobo Traditional Area. the [Konor] who is the Paramount Chief sits in state as the overlord together with his sub-chiefs, Government officials, other traditional Authorities and Invited guests.
Music and sports
The Ga-Dangbe music includes drumming and dancing. One of their 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. Music of the Ga-Dangbe people also include [Klama], [Kpatsa] and the Dipo dance all of the Krobo people.
In addition to music, the Ga-Dangbe people are known for their long history and successes in the sport of boxing. The fishing community of Bukom on the outskirts of Accra, is considered as the mecca of boxing in Ghana and has produced several notable boxers. It is the home of many famous boxing “clubs” and gymnasiums. Notable fighters include David Kotei aka DK Poison, Alfred Kotey, Joshua “The Hitter” Clottey, and former WBA Welterweight champion boxer Ike “Bazooka” Quartey, and former multi-weight class champion Azumah “Zoom Zoom” Nelson aka Prof.
Rites of passage
For the Shai and Krobo people, the Dipo is the formal rite of passage. Originally designed as a formal marriage training for mature women in their twenties, Dipo has evolved into a pre-marital sexual purification rite that involves teenage girls conducting traditional religious rituals and putting on dance performances for the public. Initiates are partially nude throughout much of the ritual. In addition, they are each adorned with custom-made glass beads, colorful loin cloths, and various forms of woven headgear. According researcher and author Priscilla Akua Boakye, “[Dipo] was a form of vocational training for young women in which they were taught generally how to assume their roles as responsible women.” Despite the ritual being designated for older teenaged girls, it is not uncommon for young pre-adolescent and even toddler aged girls to take part.
Funerals and “fantasy” coffins
The Ga people are known 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 since this tradition spread in the 1950s. Pioneers were master craftsmen like Ataa Oko (1919-2012) from La, and Seth Kane Kwei (1925-1992) from Teshie.
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. 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. Some people foreign to Ghana are known to have been buried in Ga-styled coffins.
Ataa Oko and his third wife, in front of his boat coffin, about 1960. p. 137,”The buried treasures of the Ga”, 2008
The use of these fantasy coffins is explained by the religious beliefs of the Ga people regarding their afterlife. They believe that death is not the end and that life continues in the next world in the same way it did on earth. Ancestors are also thought to be much more powerful than the living and able to influence their relatives who are still living (lucky as they are). This is why families do everything they can to ensure that a dead person is sympathetic towards them as early as possible. The social status of the deceased depends primarily on the size and the success of the burial service and of course the usage of an exclusive coffin. Design coffins are only seen on the day of the burials when they are buried with the deceased. They often symbolise the dead people’s professions, the purpose being to help them continue with their earthly profession in the afterlife. Certain shapes, such as a sword or chair coffin, represent royal or priestly insignia with a magical and religious function. Only people with the appropriate status are allowed to be buried in these types of coffins. Various creatures, such as lions, cockerels and crabs represent clan totems. Similarly, only the heads of the families concerned are permitted to be buried in coffins such as these. Many coffin shapes also evoke proverbs, which are interpreted in different ways by the Ga. Design coffins have been used since around the 1950s, especially in rural Ga groups with traditional beliefs, and have now become an integral part of Ga burial culture. Today, figural coffins are made in several workshops in Togo and Greater Accra. Successful coffinmakers are for example Cedi and Eric Adjetey Anang of Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop, Paa Joe, Daniel Mensah and Kudjoe Affutu. Most of the figural coffins are used for funerals, only a few are exported for international art exhibitions.
Notable Ga-Dangbe people
- Ebenezer Ako-Adjei(17 June 1916 – 14 January 2002) was a Ghanaian lawyer and politician who served as a foreign minister and in other leading cabinet roles during the first Republic of Ghana as a member of the Convention People’s Party. He was a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention and is one of the “Big Six“, who were arguably some of the most famous people in Ghana’s fight for independence from British rule.
- Carl Christian Reindorf(31 May 1834 – 1 July 1917) was a Euro-African-born pioneer historian, teacher, farmer, trader, physician and pastor who worked with the Basel Mission on the Gold Coast.He wrote The History of the Gold Coast and Asante in the Ga language, considered a pioneering work and a “historical classic”. The work was later translated into English and published in 1895 in Switzerland. He used written sources and oral tradition, interviewing more than 200 people in the course of assembling his history
- Guy Adjete Kouassigan(September 12, 1934 – May 24, 1981) From Aneho, Togo: lawyer, author, and professor, at Abomey Calavi University, Dakar University and Geneva Institute for Graduate studies
- Sebastien Germain Ayikoe Ajavon(January 19, 1965): Benin, business man and political leader.
|· King Tackie Tawiah I, the 20th Monarch of the Ga state, beloved King Of all time (1862-1902)
· John William Hansen (23 February 1927 – 7 April 2012) popularly known as Jerry Hansen was a Ghanaian highlife musician. He was a singer, a composer, an arranger, a saxophonist and a pioneer of highlife music. He was the bandleader and founder of the Ramblers International Band. He was a founding member and the first president of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA)
· Lieutenant General Joseph Arthur Ankrah (18 August 1915 – 25 November 1992) served as the first commander of the Army of Ghana, the Ghanaian Chief of the Defence Staff and from 1966 and 1969 as the 2nd President of Ghana. Ankrah also served as Chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity from 24 February to 5 November 1966.
· Mustapha Tettey Addy, traditional drummer & composer (b. 1942)
· Raphael Nii Amaa Ollennu, JSC, FGA (21 May 1906 – 22 December 1986) was a jurist and judge who became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the acting President of Ghana during the Second Republic from 7 August 1970 to 31 August 1970 and the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana from 1969 to 1972.
· Obo Addy, traditional & contemporary drummer, composer & educator; NEA National Heritage Fellow 1996 U.S.A. (1936-2012)
· Christian Tsui Hesse, popularly known as Chris Hesse (born 29 August 1932) is a Ghanaian cinematographer, filmmaker, film administrator, photographer and Presbyterian minister who is known for his cinematography in several award-winning films such as the critically acclaimed Love Brewed in the African Pot (1980) and Heritage Africa (1989).
He was the personal photographer of Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Chris Hesse helped to document the visual history of the political leadership and development of the country. He also worked for the United Nations, serving as a photographer, documenting the Congo crisis in 1960.
· Atukwei John Okai (15 March 1941 – 13 July 2018) was a Ghanaian poet, cultural activist and academic.He was Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers’ Association, and a President of the Ghana Association of Writers. His early work was published under the name John Okai. With his poems rooted in the oral tradition, he is generally acknowledged to have been the first real performance poet to emerge from Africa, and his work has been called “also politically radical and socially conscious, one of his great concerns being Pan-Africanism”.His performances on radio and television worldwide include an acclaimed 1975 appearance at Poetry International at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, where he shared the stage with US poets Stanley Kunitz and Robert Lowell, and Nicolás Guillén of Cuba.
· Justice Jacob Hackenburg Griffiths-Randolph (6 September 1914 – 25 July 1986) was a judge and also the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana during the Third Republic.
In 1959, during the First Republic of Ghana, President Kwame Nkrumah appointed him as Commissioner of Income Tax, the first African to hold that position. In 1966, he was appointed a Superior Court judge by the new government and served in Bolgatanga, Cape Coast, Tamale and finally Accra, where he was till he retired from the Bench in 1979. In September 1979, the 3rd Republic was born, and he was unanimously selected to be Speaker of Parliament. He served as Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana from 24 September 1979 – 31 December 1981
· Ernestina Naadu Mills (née Botchway) is an educator and former First Lady of Ghana. She was the wife of former Ghanaian president John Atta Mills (21 July 1944 – 24 July 2012), and is the recipient of a Humanitarian award from the Health Legend Foundation.
· Rebecca Akufo-Addo (née Griffiths-Randolph) is a Ghanaian public figure and the First Lady of Ghana. She is the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana and wife of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 5th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana
· Ayi Kwei Armah, Ghanaian writer (b. 1939)
· Nii Ayikwei Parkes (born 1 April 1974), is a performance poet, writer, publisher and sociocultural commentator. He is one of 39 writers aged under 40 from sub-Saharan Africa who in April 2014 were named as part of the Hay Festival’s prestigious Africa39 project
· Emmanuel Tettey Mensah aka E. T. Mensah, musician (1919-1996) who was regarded as the “King of Highlife” music. He led the band “The Tempos”, a group that toured widely in West Africa
· Warren Gamaliel Kpakpo Akwei/Guy Warren of Ghana, also known as Kofi Ghanaba (4 May 1923 – 22 December 2008), was a Ghanaian musician, best known as the inventor of Afro-jazz — “the reuniting of African-American jazz with its African roots” — and as a member of The Tempos, alongside E. T. Mensah. He also inspired musicians such as Fela Kuti.
Warren’s virtuosity on the African drums earned him the appellation “The Divine Drummer”. At different stages of his life, he also worked as a journalist, DJ and broadcaster.
· King Bruce, (3 June 1922 – 12 September 1997), a composer, band leader a musician, an arranger, band leader and multi-instrumentalist made his mark on Ghana’s dance band highlife tradition in a variety of ways.
· Saka Acquaye (2 November 1923 – 27 February 2007), a musician, playwright, sculptor and textile designer. He founded the African Ensemble while in the US and as its leader, recorded an album under the ELEKTRA label. He was a member of Ramblers International Band
· Grace Nortey is an actress who played multi-character lead roles on Ghanaian television in the 1990s.
· Mac Jordan Amartey (1936–2018) was a popular Ghanaian actor.
· Emmanuel Armah aka Armah Senegal(born 22 April 1968) is a retired Ghanaian football defender. He played for Hearts of Oak in Ghana, except for the 1994–95 season at Sportul Studențesc București in Romania. He was also capped for Ghana, and was a squad member in the 1992 African Cup of Nations and the 1997 Korea Cup.
He has produced and starred in a BBC documentary and also directed and produced a film on HIV and AIDS in partnership with UNESCO and Esi Sutherland-Addy’s MMOFRA Foundation.
· Theresa Amerley Tagoe, Minister of Parliament (1943-2010)
· Azumah “The Professor” Nelson, Boxer (b. 1958)
· Neville Alexander Odartey-Wellington, Army Commander (b. )
· Nii Amaa Ollennu, former Interim President of Ghana (1906-1986)
· Ike “Bazooka” Quartey, boxer (b. 1969)
· Ben Tackie, boxer (b. 1973)
· Honourable Justice Daniel Francis Annan, First Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana in the Fourth Republic. (b. 1928)
· Honourable Justice E.N.P. Sowah, Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Ghana (1986-1990)
· Joshua Clottey, Boxer, Former IBF Welterweight Champion.
· Richard Commey, Boxer, International Boxing Federation (IBF) Lightweight World Champion
· Frank Gibbs Torto, Ghanaian chemist
· Lesley Naa Norle Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, and novelist. She says: “I live almost simultaneously in Johannesburg, London, Accra and Edinburgh.
· Adjetey Anang, actor, popularly known as “Pusher”, which was his screen name in the television series ‘Things We Do for Love, and most recentry, Yolo’
· Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe (born March 8, 1973), better known as Boris Kodjoe, is an Austrian-born actor of German and Ghanaian descent known for his roles as Kelby in the 2002 film Brown Sugar, the sports-courier agent Damon Carter on the Showtime drama series Soul Food and was a recurring character on FOX’s The Last Man on Earth.
He currently co-stars on BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood and the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Station 19.
· Abraham Nii Attah (born 2 July 2001). He made his feature film debut in [[Beasts of No Nation (2015). For his leading role of child soldier Agu, Attah was awarded the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. He was made an Ambassador for the Free Education Policy in Ghana, after having supported the policy with a picture endorsement. In 2017, he appeared in the Marvel Studios film Spider-Man: Homecoming. He has joined the ensemble cast of Shane Carruth’s third film, The Modern Ocean.
· Joselyn Dumas, Television show host and actress
· Berla Addardey Mundi aka Berla Mundi, media personality, women’s advocate and voice artist
· Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku, actress, radio/ TV broadcaster and public relations professional
· Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jr. aka Shatta Wale, formerly known as Bandana, music producer and reggae-dancehall artiste
· Yvonne Nelson, actress, model, film producer and entrepreneur
· Chris Attoh (born Christopher Keith Nii Attoh; May 17, 1974) is a Ghanaian actor, on-air personality, television presenter and producer. He is best known as “Kwame Mensah” in Nigerian soap opera Tinsel.
· Odartei Mills Lamptey popularly known as Gasmilla or International Fisherman.
· Bernard Okaiteh popularly known as Eye Judah
· Theophilus Tagoe, (born 1 May 1982, disappeared 6 July 2014), popularly known as Castro or Castro Under Fire was a Ghanaian hiplife recording artist and musician.
· Nii Kwate Owoo, (born 1944) is a Ghanaian academic and filmmaker, described by Variety as “one of the first Ghanaians to lense in 35mm”. His name has also appeared in film credits as Kwate Nee-Owoo.
· Eddie Nartey, (born 6 November 1984) is an actor, director, and film producer. His supporting role in Frank Rajah’s “Somewhere In Africa” earned him a nomination at the Nollywood and African Film Critics Awards (NAFCA), and Ghana movie awards. He was nominated in the best actor category for Kiss Me If You Can.
· Tagoe Sisters is the name of a musical duo consisting of twins Lydia Dedei Yawson Nee Tagoe and Elizabeth Korkoi Tagoe. They have been singing in the gospel music industry since 1983
· Nii Okai(Ernest Nii-Okai Okai, born September 19, 1977) is an Award-winning Ghanaian Contemporary gospel singer and a choir leader.
· Danny Nettey(19 September 1968 – 15 July 2016) was a Ghanaian musician and songwriter. He was best described as one of the pioneers of Contemporary Gospel music in Ghana.
· Virgil Abloh ‘Virgil Abloh (/ˈæbloʊ/; born September 30, 1980) is a Ghanaian-American fashion designer, entrepreneur, artist, and DJ who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton‘s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Abloh is also the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013.
A trained architect, Abloh, who also worked in Chicago street fashion, entered the world of international fashion with an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. The two then began an artistic collaboration that would launch Abloh’s career into founding Off-White. The first American of African descent to be artistic director at a French luxury fashion house, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
Reference Source: Wikipedia
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