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Colby College

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression

Abstract

I was based in Odumase Krobo for about three weeks. There, I completed over twenty interviews with people ranging from young boys and girls, elders, parents, Queen Mothers, priests and priestesses, devout Christians, and many others I met around town. I also lived with a family who had one boy and one girl and was able to observe how their upbringing differed according to their genders.

I was able to discover the dipo process mostly in its entirety, save for the parts which are considered sacred and which I was therefore unable to hear about. I also discovered that dipo has changed in many ways due to formal education and Christianity. I also learned that the traditional rites of passage for boys were circumcision, learning to raise a lamb, learning to cultivate land, and receiving a gun for farming. I learned that of these rites, only circumcision remains today, and that the other practices have gone away as the Krobos have shifted away from their agricultural economy. Finally, I found that rites of passage for both boys and girls in Krobo reveal that both manhood and womanhood are defined primarily by one’s relationship to the family as well as one’s relationship to Krobo itself. Hence, womanhood is about being a good wife and mother, while manhood is about being a good father and husband. For both genders, taking pride in being from Krobo is an essential facet of the transition into adulthood.

I concluded that despite certain limitations, ultimately these rites of passage are empowering for both boys and girls. They are empowering because achieving full personhood in Ghana meaning being a part of a community, and so the Krobo rites of passage, which provide boys and girls with access to the family community as well as to the greater Krobo community, allow the young people to become fulfilled adults.

Disciplines

Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Sociology of Culture

 

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