Ghanaian Traditional Marriage Customs
In Ghana, marriage is constructed according
to the custom of ethnic group of which the couple live. Usually this
includes a religious ceremony and a
civic registration ceremony commonly known as a wedding. Generally, marriage
in Ghana is recognized as a union between a man and a woman with the
knowledge of both families of the bride and the groom. In the Volta region of
Ghana area, marriage is a union between a man and a woman who agree to live
together as husband and wife and have gone through all procedures recognized
in the society for such a purpose.
In Ghana, the purpose of marriage is to provide companionship for the couple, the means to offer
support for each other, and a legitimate avenue for
sexual satisfaction and reproduction. Marriage is usually a group affair
which involves not only the immediate relatives of the couple but more
distant kin folk.
However, in selecting and accepting a
potential spouse, certain important conditions have to be met. Members of
each family are screened for incurable or contagious diseases, criminal
backgrounds, violent behavior, respectfulness, employment status or standard
of living, and religious background. Generally, many Ghanaians prefer a
spouse who is hardworking and respectful, peaceful (not violent or do not
advocate violence), and of the same or compatible religious background.
Christians and Muslims do not generally intermarry. However, conversions
from one religion to another is preferable prior to marriage.
There are three-(3) primary criteria in
classifying the marriage process:
- Customary marriage
- Civic Registration
- Religious marriage
Customary marriage forms the basis of all
three-(3) types. Inquiries are made by both families
to ensure the the family of the prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law is
respected. Usually violent behavior, immorality, witch craft, incurable or
contagious diseases, and insanity in a family are not approved. The
customary rites or marriage ceremony, as practiced by the woman's ethnic group,
are performed by the man's head of family, by the father or uncle or any
member of the family who is recognized by the community as honorable.
Presentation and acceptance of drinks and gifts
known as dowry bride wealth signifies the consent of family members to the
marriage. It is also a sign or a token of support for the marriage and is
used to compensate the parent for the loss of the services of their daughter.
The dowry or the bride wealth does not represent the prize at which the
woman has been sold to the man.
Customary marriages differ among societies.
Despite the differences, drinks and cash are widely used. Although cash is
involved in the northern part of Ghana, drinks and cola are also used. One
characteristic of customary marriage is that it allows polygamy thus it
allows the man to marry more than one woman. However, Christains who
complete a religious marriage usually abide by the biblical principle of
"one man one wife".
Religious marriage involves administration of
the marital union by a Priest, religious minister or Imam. However,
the customary marriage and the registration of the marriage in the court or
district metropolitan assembly should occur before Christians marry.
The Islamic marriage ceremony conforms to the
Islamic law and traditions. According to Muslim traditions, parents arrange
a suitable partner. Compatibility is not considered important, the choice is
entirely in the parents hand.
Copyright © 2001 TeKay Designs
Inc. All rights reserved.