The History of the Ga Community Essay

3.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the history of the Ga community, their political and societal organisation. It besides discusses alterations in the societal administration of the Ga people as a consequence of societal alteration. The modern Ga community is an incarnation of tradition and alteration which is portrayed in their manner of life. In modern times, one can depict the Ga community every bit situated in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The Ga traditional fatherland lies in the southern portion of Ghana and no more than 10 kilometres from the seashore to the Akwapim hills. Totaling about 587, 412 individuals, the huge bulk ( 85.7 % ) of the Ga live in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana with little populations of Ga migrators ( GSS 2002 a ) . The Ga community has a decentralized traditional political disposal centred around the six major colonies of Ga Mashi, La, Osu, Teshie, Nungua and Tema. Each of these colonies has a figure of quarters which are further divided into subdivisions and kins. Their cardinal town, Accra, is non merely the national capital but has been the Centre of political, administrative, commercial, societal and educational activities in Ghana for good over a century. Source ( Brukum, Pwamang and Tonah, 2009 ) .

The traditional Ga people are said to be husbandmans and fishermen who have greater figure of their population life along the seashore. Since the colonial period, nevertheless, some of the Ga people have been trained as clerks, craftsmans and professionals ( Azu, 1974 ) . With increasing industrialisation and enlargement in infrastructural development, the Accra – Tema country has developed into the chief industrial hub of Ghana. Since the 1960s, many parts of the Ga Traditional Area have been transformed into multi – ethnic and widely distributed part under the influence of the forces of globalisation and secularisation ( Wellington, 2002 ) . These alterations have, nevertheless, brought few betterments in the lives of many ordinary Ga occupants with many Ga colonies enduring from increased poorness, over – crowding, and a by and large hapless substructure ( Brukum, Pwamang and Tonah, 2009 ) .Greater figure of the autochthonal Ga can be found in parts of cardinal Accra which is characterized with congestion, hapless substructure, and dilapidated edifices ( Brukum, Pwamang and Tonah, 2009 ) .

3.2 History of the Ga

The traditional history of the Ga begins with their migration by and large believed to hold started from the parts E of the Volta River ( Henderson – Quartey, 2002: 1 ) . “The ascendants of the folk from the folks of Akra, Lateh, Obutu and Mowure are said to hold migrated from the sea ; they arrived on the seashore one after the othser” ( Reindorf, 1895 ) . Reindorf ( 1895 ) recorded another version of the migration of the Ga which says “The Akras and Adangmes emigrated together from Tetetutu, or as some say, from Sameh, in the E, between two big rivers. Another position says that “The Gas came all the manner from the cardinal portion of the continent…and they are kinsmen to the Benins, who, by their ain pick, kept back in the class of the migration” . Field ( 1940:155 ) concluded that the Ga came down “…the Niger from inland before going along the coast” ( Field, 1940: 155 ) . Harmonizing to Field ( 1940: 73 ) , the Ga originally lived in scattered colonies, farming and runing until the menace of extinction through wars and break one’s back raiding, necessitated their coming together to organize towns, based on the military organisations of the Akwamu people. Irrespective of these averments, different histories of the Ga migration has been presented by other anthropologist and historiographers.

Harmonizing to Henderson – Quartey ( 2002 ) , all the narrations rely on fables, generics of unwritten tradition, which narrate historical beginnings beyond memory. He farther contends that Ga traditional beginnings are normally brief and obscure. It is believed that after the migration of the Ga, they re – grouped atTetetutheir memorable location E of the Volta and crossed into the Accra Plains ( Henderson – Quartey, 2002 ) . He asserts that the three distinguishable groups, viz. , the Ga Mashi, Ga Wo, and the Ga Boni in association with some Guan groups emerged.

3.3 Social administration of the Ga

3.3.1 The Ga Household

Traditionally, the Ga was segmented by households which were headed by thewula†„ma†„or priest of the household God ( Rattray, 1940 ) . In footings of lodging agreement, everywe( house ) had two chief subdivisions, the male and the female subdivisions known ashiiamliandyeiamli( Azu, 1974:20 ) . There have been a figure of accounts to the separation of males from females in footings of the lodging construction of the traditional Ga. One of such grounds harmonizing to Azu ( 1974: 20 ) was the wars in the olden yearss which made many line of descents procured war medical specialties which were buried in their compounds. It was observed that the authority of these medical specialties would be contaminated and renders the medical specialty powerless if menstruating adult females lived at that place. Another version harmonizing to Azu ( 1974: 20 ) was the fact that adult females were chitchats and quarrelsome by nature and they would easy convey out the secrets of the line of descent which can easy affect work forces in their wrangles. In position of this, it was seen as prudent to divide the adult females from the work forces in footings of their lodging construction. However, these accounts are myths and have non been substantiated by any scientific grounds.

Thehiiamliis made up of work forces who live with their “brothers” in groups of from three to ten, and their boies fall in them every bit shortly as they are excessively large for the women’s compounds ( Field, 1940:3 ) . Thehiiamliis made up of male members who belong to the same agnation and every room in thehiiamliis inhabited by a adult male whose male parent and possibly father’s male parent might hold lived there ( Azu, 1974: 21 ) . This means, the men’s compounds are normally made up of individuals from the same household who so organize a house ( Field, 1940 ) . Wives normally came to kip at dark along with their kids who were below four old ages old ( Azu, 1974 ) . Harmonizing to Azu ( 1974: 20 ) , during the showery seasons, male childs who slept on the sheltered compounds where permitted to kip in their male parents room on mats spread on the floor while their parents occupied the individual beds in the room. As a consequence of this agreement, it is believed that kids were normally cognizant of sexual activities that went on between their parents ( Field, 1940: 9 ) . Thehiiamliwas really of import because it could be reckoned with the type of descent system in the Ga society ( Azu, 1974:22 ) . The writer references that, it was besides relevant because it was where all lineage meetings and ceremonials such as matrimonies, calling ceremonials and deceases were performed. No cookery was done in thehiiamliand nutrient was sent to them by their married womans from the assortedyeiamliand all the work forces sat around the nutrient communally ( Field, 1940, pp. 3 – 4, 9 ) . The men’s compounds were largely unbroken clean as possible.

On the other manus, theyeiamliwhich was the women’s compound was made up of the married womans of the work forces in thehiiamli, the single girls of the adult females, girls who were non first married womans, and boies under the age of seven ( Azu, 1974: 22 ) . Harmonizing to Rattray ( 1940 ) , the adult females were supposed to populate with their female parents even after matrimony which brought about adult females and girls of about four coevalss populating on a common compound known as the women’s compound. Each room in theyeiamliwas occupied by a adult female, her girls and their kids or by two or more sisters and their kids ( Azu, 1974: 23 ) . If a adult female dies, her girls who lived with her in the same room regarded the room as theirs. It was common to see these suites get overcrowded when girls had kids without any addition in the figure of suites ( Field, 1940: 6 ) . Theyeiamliwas ever because that was where all the family jobs like cookery, rinsing of apparels among others took topographic point ( Rattray, 1940 ; Azu, 1974 ) . In the women’s compound the residents lived at that place by two sorts of right: foremost, those who were members by birth and secondly those who were either girls or granddaughters of adult females who were born either in the compound or some other women’s compound ( Rattray, 1940 ) . Rattray ( 1940 ) states that, a adult male may demand of his married woman that she lived with his female parent although this was barely done. However, a married woman could non demand a place of her husband’s people if she has relations of her ain or near at manus ( Rattray, 1940: 7 ) .

Apart from the two distinguish compounds ; the Ga besides had other lodging agreement which reflected the flexibleness of their societal scene. The agreement by which the work forces of the house lived in men’s compounds and the adult females and their girls and expansive – girls in the women’s compounds, was non perfectly stiff ( Rattray, 1940: 13 ) . Rattray ( 1940 ) explains that there were state of affairss where affluent work forces who had several married womans built common compounds and had all their married womans live with them. Young work forces could besides construct houses in the small towns and live at that place with their married womans and kids ( Azu, 1974 ) .

3.3.2 Social results of the Housing System

The residential form of the Ga shows that the household units evident that the household is non a residential unit ( Azu, 1974: 24 ) . The male members who were older than seven old ages were normally found in one house while female members and infant males were scattered in differentyeiamli( Azu, 1974: 24 ) . The result of this was that work forces barely had much contact and control over their kids, particularly the females who normally lived with their female parents ( Azu, 1974 ) . The male parent was largely regarded as an foreigner to the kids as they spent greater portion of their developmental old ages with their female parents ( Azu, 1974, Brown, 1964 ) . The lodging form largely provides an chance for girls to populate a promiscuous life as they normally lied to their female parents they visited their male parents while in existent sense met their lovers ( Azu, 1974: 25 ) . Couples besides became leery of each other as they do non populate on the same compound.

Another consequence of the residential system of the Ga was that it promoted affable relationships as the women’s compound was made up of kids from different line of descents who were brought together to populate in the same compound ( Rattray, 940 ) . A sense of brotherliness existed among members in the community as they saw themselves as relations who have lived on the compound before. Rattray ( 1940:7 ) explains that when male childs reach the age of 13 or above, they on a regular basis worked with their male parents and eat with them together. Irrespective of this, they ever had strong ties to eat from their female parents compound throughout their unrecorded times even when they were married ( Rattray, 1940 ) . Men’s strong fond regard to their female parents in add-on to the girls populating with them on the compound made the adult females opposition to disassociate ( Rattray, 1940 ) . The Ga adult females were viewed as exerting so much power which made it hard for them to esteem their work forces. Irrespective of this, the Ga adult male was alive to the advantages of a system which allowed him to hold all the self-respect of a married adult male and a male parent without abdicating the joys of the bachelor’s muss and without environing himself with the domestic convulsion of the baby’s room and the kitchen ( Rattray, 1940: 8 ) . This state of affairs normally made the kids the lone tie between the hubby and the married woman. It was hence common to see married twosomes as separate persons unless the children’s names are used to mention to the male parent or female parent, for illustration “ Okai’s father” or “ Okai’s mother” ( Rattray, 1940 ) . It was really hard for one to be able to acknowledge a couple easy among due to the deficiency of heat that normally existed between them. Rattray ( 1940 ) mentioned that one manner of cognizing this was when they had a immature babe. The proud male parent may frequently be found paying brief visits and formal visits to the married woman at sundown. He comes in diffidently, greets his female parent – in – jurisprudence and the older adult females ceremonially and about ignores his married woman ( Rattray, 1940: 8 ) . It was normally from her weaponries that he takes the babe and holds it for a few proceedingss, but this was the lone hint the alien had to cognize which of the younger adult females was his married woman ( Rattray, 1940: 8 ) . Rattray explains that when the kids grow up it was really hard to distinguish between twosomes.