The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to colonial influences that can be seen in every aspect of Ghanaian culture, and are particularly noticeable in the southern and central regions due to the history of the country.
Upon the British conquest of the area of contemporary Ghana, two completely different cultures met. To be able to understand the influence this event wielded on the alternation of Ghanaian customs, it is crucial to recognize the importance of culture in everyday life. The phenomenon of culture covers, among other things, religious beliefs, ideology, learning, and everything that is passed from generation to generation in the process of education and expressed in language. Since it determines an individual’s perception of reality, culture governs attitudes of an individual towards external world and its representatives. Dictionaries define culture as entirety of material and spiritual achievements of humankind, which passed from generation to generation together with fundamental ideas and notions provide the reality with a meaning (Curtin 1995:633).
British notions concerning reality were entirely different from those represented by their subjects, owing to the colonists’ history based on Christianity. Typical for them was the need to propagate spheres of life cognition understood as religion, science, culture and ideology. Since writing and education served as a tool of their dissemination and transmission, the arrival of those two devices explains the foundation of educational institutions, which were employed by the colonial authorities to alter the Ghanaian “uncivilized” way of life (ibid 1995:634).
Colonists conviction of the savage character of their subjects’ customs was a result of British failure to recognize the customs and practices they met as a culture, since they were based on oral tradition. Moreover, the distinction between religious practices, science or ideology was not known to the indigenous population of the Gold Coast, as all those phenomena constituted the integral part of daily life (Rotberg 1970:11).
As the understanding of phenomenon of culture varied between the colonizers and their subjects, the customs of the latter were to be changed drastically. Presented below are aspect of culture either introduced or influenced by the British and their way of life.
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