Background to the study
The concept of sustainability and sustainable development could definitely be an umbrella under which human improvement thrives to a very large extent universally. The ideas underlining sustainability, cultural diversity, religion and development intensively relate to the human person as the focal point. These concepts underlining sustainable development put forward load of ideas when it comes to the active measure to improve the quality of life of the human person and may be put in processes, perspectives and theories respectively.
Globally, sustainable development has been a force to reckon with when it comes to eradicating certain forms of social evil that occur in the society hence, the United Nations engagement. Sustainable development is the development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs. The United Nations proposed seventeen sustainable development goals which bother on human development. These goals were proposed by the UN General Assembly in the adoption of the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The goals are to be implemented and achieved in every country from the year 2016 to 2030.
In Ghana, sustainable development is a lurking phenomenon as there is the conscious effort to prioritize it. Development which appears to be stifled in Ghana can directly be linked to the faint measures that have been put in place to ensure that development ensue in the country. Besides that, diverse resourceful arenas including African traditional religion could also be channeled for development in Ghana. Culture is the totality of the way of life of the people living in a society whereas African traditional religion is a primary component of culture; expressions, beliefs and practices of the people. Theoretically, culture has been used to mean the pattern of life of people whiles realistically, culture is the social capital of the people. Culture, is not genetically inherited and cannot exist on its own but is always shared by members of the society. This in somewhat similar view captures the ideas given by Awolalu when he expresses African traditional religion as the religion of the African people.
The Ghanaian culture is diversified and very resourceful. This is because it accommodates other cultures within and without its confines. Cultural diversity means the visible differences between different groups of people in one culture. It is of much prominence that deeper thought is given to cultural diversity since it could be used interchangeably with cultural relativism which is considered invalid basically because they mean different things. The culture of the people has identity, problem solving, development, adaptability functions. The aforementioned functions are reflected in all the different sub-cultures or ethnic groups in Ghana. References to the relationship between culture and development can be found in such key documents as the Cultural Policy of Ghana, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, and the National Tourism Development Plan. The challenge is to ensure that the full range of culture’s benefits is considered and that culture is consistently mainstreamed as a defining and sustainable component in national development plans. This cultural diversity could be seen in the various beliefs and practices inherent in the traditional religion such as festivals. However, the diversified norms, worldviews, beliefs and practices can only enhance development if pro-active measures are put in place. This leads to the question whether there could be a sustainable development in the midst of these elements of culture mentioned above. It appears that there is a positive assurance to the question. Sustainability propounds that something may be kept functioning for a longer period of time. In the case of development, it suggests that the development be kept for a longer time to positively affect future generations. This is the challenge since efforts have seemed futile in previous decades. African traditional religious beliefs and practices could solve the problem.
Statement of research problem
Efforts to ensure sustainable development in Ghana over the years have seemed futile. This is because of the different agenda pursued by different governments over the years. Besides, it appears that the sustainable development goals are not meticulously observed. In fact, the sustainable development goals are to serve as blue prints to help achieve a sustained developed country. There have been diverse measures put in place over the years to help manage cultural diversity towards achieving sustainable development in Ghana. However, such measures seem not to have provided the results anticipated. It appears that there are resourceful arenas involved in African traditional religion but unfortunately for stereotypical reasons, our indigenous religion has been tagged with derogatory remarks or descriptions such as fetish, savage and barbaric which directly undermine the possibility of the religion to be useful. The effect of modernity and formal education has resulted in the abandonment of the traditional religion. For this reason, policy makers as well as other governmental agencies have failed to incorporate these religious resources into developmental projects. This is a very appalling situation because the development that is sought after is ever present in the beliefs and practices of African traditional religion and for that matter, festivals. People need to be brought back to the realization that African Traditional Religion is instrumental in development. For similar reasons, the media has directly failed to publicize the core values that are inherent in African Traditional Religion instead, the media paints the religion black. This is also another problem that needs a solution. This is dependent on the fact that the media is an effective communicative tool that reaches the world therefore negatively promoting African traditional religion would facilitate distaste of the religion by others.
African Traditional Religion has earned some derogatory remarks which stem from those that believe that the religion is somewhat barbaric and useless. It is very important to underline the fact that African traditional religion is not in any way detrimental to the growth process or development of African societies such as Ghana. A study into the religious systems is therefore a study of the people themselves in all complexities of both traditional and modern life. Religion is the strongest element in traditional background, and exerts probably the greatest influence upon the thinking and living of the people concerned. In conjunction with Mbiti, Ezeanya agrees that in Africa “life is religion, and religion is life” This means that religion could not be separated from the true African hence whoever tries it will be seen as a stranger to Africa. The religion is like a woven embroidery in the fabric of the cultural and religious lives of Africans.
Ghana is full of religious phenomena which is invariably remains untapped for development.
Failure to prioritize this religion to mean positivity in our societal framework is directly because of the negative perceptions towards the religion by people. Some theorists and researchers saw Africa as the “Dark Continent” even though they had never been to Africa before. This period is what Idowu in his book “African Traditional Religion” describes as “the period of ignorance and false certainty”. The full potential of African traditional beliefs and practices such as festivals, are not highlighted well enough for people to notice the intrinsic worth they habour. There is the need to show its worth to the people it matters to. To show the importance of this religion, light is thrown on its diversity and how the elements involved can be channeled to aid in the sustainable development in Ghana.
Research Objective and Significance.
The main objective of the research is to find out the contributions that cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional beliefs and practices such as festivals, make towards the achievement of sustainable development in Ghana.
The study is relevant religiously, socially and academically for the following reasons;
First, the study is very significant on the grounds of religion. African traditional religion is further proven as a very beneficial religion devoid of the diverse pejorative connotations attached to it. The study goes on to prove the validity of the religion by pointing out the aspects involved in it that holds the key to a sustained development in Ghana. The study makes known the reasons for the religion’s tenacity by showing its importance. It may also provide the answers to some questions on the minds of people concerning the religion in relation to ancestorship, deities and other aspects involved in the religion as a whole.
Second, the study holds a very strong importance in the social aspect of life. The study would increase the need to make sure the environment is enhanced to ensure peaceful co-existence as a result of the religious acceptance among religious masses. The study suggests ways of ensuring value-oriented society that would go a long way to show the importance of values, rules and norms in the society. It would also show how togetherness in unity would be achieved in the society through the institution of festivals.
Finally, the study has a strong academic significance. It adds up to the conscious academic approaches from a multidisciplinary background to rove the worth of African traditional religion, environmental conservation and sustainable development. The study buttresses the fact that there is a much defined relationship between humans and nature which can be seen in religion as well as in science in the field of Ecology. The study shows how effectively the diversity involved in African traditional religion can be channeled to achievement of sustainable development in Ghana. This would aid in providing an added form of reference literature to the numerous others to help solve the menace of underdevelopment. It would add considerably to the plethora of academic references that bothers on the terrain of the study.
This study is driven by the general question: what contributions can the management of cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional religion make towards Sustainable development in Ghana? In order to answer this question, the present work or study asks specific questions such as;
1. What is African traditional religion?
2. What is cultural diversity in African traditional religion?
3. In what can the management of this cultural diversity in African traditional religion contribute towards sustainable development in Ghana?
1.4 Scope and Limitation of the Study
In evaluating the management of Cultural diversity towards the sustainable development in Ghana with respect to African traditional religion, the theme of festivals have been considered. The target units were the culture in general and the people who shared their thoughts, opinions and experiences in trying to answer the question of whether their festivals have any relevance whatsoever on the development in their respective societies. The Homowo festival of the Ga’s, the Adae festival of the Asante’s and the Apoo festival of the Bono’s (Brong) were used. This is accomplished by showing the diversity in these festivals and their similar contributions to development in Ghana.
The limitations that this research work is likely to encounter are;
The research envisages the problem of financial constraint as accessibility to the area of study would directly require money. The resources that are needed for this kind of research exceeds the normal hence limits the quality of the research in a way.
Time would also be a problem because the time involved in acquisition of data is very limited. Again, availability of the persons who are relevant to the study would be a struggle. Respondents may be skeptical to release certain information concerning their festivals.
This study employed the qualitative method of research to gather data. The qualitative method was used because of its attribute of describing and understanding phenomena in their settings from the view of respondents who have experienced the concept. The study relied on both primary and secondary sources of data such as interviews and mostly textual materials. Primary data was collected through interviews and a purposive sampling method was used to select some people who were relevant to the study for the purposes of interview. Besides, secondary sources were consulted from journals, books, articles, documentaries and other papers. A descriptive research method was used to describe the happenings and nature of the festivals as its main focus to bring the study some practicality. All data gathered were carefully examined and evaluated in the light of the study objective. It is noteworthy that the study places emphasis on the theme of festivals, especially to show how diversified festivals are from different ethnic groups here in Ghana and again showing their contributions to sustainable development in Ghana.
1.6 Organization of the Study
This work is divided into five chapters;
Chapter one, covers the general introduction of the study. It includes the background to the study, the statement of the problem, research question, and objectives of the study as well as the framework of the study.
Chapter two explains the conceptual framework of the study through some textual reviews and references.
Chapter three explains the sources of cultural diversity in African traditional religion.
Chapter four concentrates on data Analysis, the main objective hence cultural diversity and sustainable development.
Chapter five is made up of observations, summery of findings and recommendations. It also gives general conclusion to the entire work.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF STUDY
The study consist of important concepts that need to be clarified in order to understand the subject matter of the study. In order to explore the idea of how cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional religion can ensure sustainable development in Ghana, there is the need to clarify these concepts to provide comprehensive explanation to the concepts and how they are used in this research.
2.1 Culture and Cultural Diversity
Culture is apparent in different disciplines and for different scholars, culture is seen from different perspectives. Spencer, indicates that culture is a set of attitudes, beliefs, behavioral norms and basic assumptions and values that are directly shared by a group of people and influences each member’s behavior and his/her understanding of the meaning of other people’s behavior. In somewhat similar perspective to Spencer-Oatey, Giddens appears to sum up these definitions and suggests that culture refers to the ways of life of the members of a society or groups within a society. We can infer from the scholars that culture is a social treasure. In other words it is the people that live in a society who make up the conglomerate of the adherents of that culture. In this regard, Assimeng like Giddens holds the view that culture is therefore the entire way of life of the people in a society. The term ‘society’ as mentioned in the definitions of Tyler, Spencer, and Giddens may however need further clarification. This is because Scott and Marshall Intimate that a society is the composition of groups consisting of people who share a common culture, occupy a particular territorial area. From all the definitions and explanations of the scholars, we gather that culture is portrayed as an adaptation process by human beings. People are necessary for every society and vice versa and this is because as human beings interrelate in the various groups inherent in a society, accepted ways of behaviors are adopted. This may stem from the idea of trying to adapt to the conditions of such groups at given times. Accepted behaviors and norms directly become the focus of a society once it is handed down from generations to generations. The scholars are right when they say culture becomes the totality of life of a people in a society.
Assimeng’s definition of society however captures more on the setting of Africa stating that it is a relatively enduring and morally structured framework for the engagement of people, usually within a specified locality. From these definitions of society, we gather that every society shares a specific kind of behavioral pattern which may be termed as culture. This is because the behaviors are predominant in a specific society more especially within a group. As culture is universal, it also varies whilst familiar basic elements like norms, language, values, and sanctions among others may be pointed. These among other elements are generally called cultural universals. Culture as Wilson depicts appear to be universal but highly diverse or different for different groups in the society. These differences are what is referred to as Cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is the existence of a variety of cultural and ethnic groups within a society.
Nelson Akatey in his article ‘The Relevance of Cultural Diversity and National Development’ defined cultural diversity as the quality of having diverse or different cultures as opposed to a monoculture. That is to say that cultural diversity connotes the idea of an inherent difference in the cultural make up of a particular society in relation to its numerous groups rather than the existence of a culture that is used by the whole society. Ghana is rich when it comes to its culture as a result of its diversified nature. The cultural policy document states that Ghana has over 50 ethnic groups, whose common values and institutions represent our collective national heritage as a nation. In UNESCO’s universal declaration on cultural diversity we observe that cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. However most evolutionary accounts counteract as it views this as an unstable hypothesis. Cultural diversity is important because our countries, workplaces, and schools increasingly consist of various cultural, racial and ethnic groups. A lot of learning can be done from one another but first we must understand each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. It is very important to note that the concept of cultural diversity is peculiar to a country or a society as it increases the country’s strength which makes it more capable to compete with the new global economy. It also allows for a conducive socialization environment for people to live in as new things may be learnt and shared among the composite of diverse people living in the society. Learning about other cultures helps to understand different perspectives within the world in which we live and helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups. For example a Ghanaian who visits the United Kingdoms should make a conscious effort to understand the cultural framework of the people there in order to facilitate understanding. This in the long run would make the individual come to a conclusion that although all human beings live in a society, they relate differently in different groups according to their belief, perspective and worldview.
To further elaborate, the main peculiarity of a human being as a biological specie is its incompleteness. That man is an incomplete, unfinished animal and as a direct result, man creates an adaptation process (culture). According to the computer science metaphor, ‘control mechanism’ is what we need to operate. In different contexts, under different conditions and circumstances, people interact. People interact differently and produce different cultures thus we can face the extraordinary diversity man faces in terms of the existence of cultural diversity. One way to ensure the management of this diversity in question is that tribalism and ethnocentrism should be discouraged. Sumner coined ethnocentrism to mean the tendency to assume that one’s culture represents superiority to all others. The legitimacy of a given culture lies in the presence of people who cherish it therefore all cultures are identical to its adherents. This assertion is based on what Giddens explains as social treasure as he explains that the people in a society make up the conglomerate whole of the adherent of their culture. In a country full of subcultures and ethnic groups socially linked together, there would always be wedlock, preference over the other etc. but instilling the idea of brotherhood (communalism) would help control the situation directly sourced from traditional religion. Culture and cultural diversity are different concepts but relates considerably to facilitate continuity of a society.
2.2 Sustainability and Sustainable Development
Sustainability means the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Sustainability applies to different concepts such as resources, and energy. Some scholars have approached the subject of sustainability but from fields like social, economic and environmental. Kokemuller in his article “What is Sustainability” argues that human sustainability is one category which involves specific goals, strategies and implemented to improve and maintain the quality of human life. In his book ‘Sustainability Sutra’, Morrison prompts readers to reflect much deeper on the concept of sustainability as he suggests that existing system of taxing should be based on an assessment on the value of all goods and services based on the level of sustainability saying that the price should not work against us but work for us. Sustainability centers on the development of the human person and this clearly shows in the view of Morrison. There are various types of sustainability.
Western Australia Council of Social Services (WACOSS) views social sustainability as an occurrence when the formal and informal processes, systems, structures and relationships actively supports the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities.
Environmental or ecological sustainability is viewed by Gallopin as any system composed of a societal component in the interaction with an ecological system.
Sustainable development implies the fulfilment of several conditions. Preserving the overall balance in the society, the respect for the environment, and preventing the depletion of natural resources are the focus of sustainable development. Reduced production of waste and the rationalization of production and energy consumption are also tackled. Sustainable development is presented as a more or less clean break from other modes of development, which have led and are still leading to worrying social and ecological damage on both a worldwide and a local scale. In order to be sustainable, development must combine three main elements which are;
Fairness, protection of the environment, and a good economic standard. A sustainable development project must be based on a better mode of consultation between the community and the members it comprises. The success of such a policy also depends on consumers accepting certain constraints and citizens observing certain requirements with regard to transparency and participation.
The United Nations explain sustainable development as the development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs hence proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals to sustain the world. These goals were proposed by the UN general assembly in the adoption of the universal, integrated and transformative 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The goals are to be implemented and achieved in every country from the year 2016 to 2030.
Sustainable development and Sustainability as a concept over the years have been used interchangeably but both concepts have a mild difference. Sustainability is mainly the ability to be maintained at a certain rate. In sustainable development, what is sustained or made sustainable is the process of improving the human condition or better still of the social system, a process that does not necessarily require indefinite growth in the consumption of energy and materials. Sustainability is the pathway to sustainable development. Gallopin seems to disagree with this basically because of his statement that seems to create a difference between both concepts. His idea of vast difference between sustainability and sustainable development may have come from a place of highly intellectual reasoning but ‘development’ being added is what causes the mild difference as opposed to the vast difference per his opinion. Development attached to sustainability only suggests a directional change in the processes of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) but does not really take away from it categorically. From all the explanations of Sustainability and Sustainable Development, we can assert that development is human centered. The types of sustainability should be realized to ensure true development. The Combination of social sustainability and economic sustainability would only make development equitable. Combination of social and environmental sustainability would make development viable. However, it is only when all three of these are used together that sustainable development becomes apparent. Only by balancing these types of sustainability will true sustainable development be achieved.
Amartya Sen understands development to mean freedom. By freedom he means increasing citizen’s access and opportunities to the things they have adequate reason to value. He seems to challenge the mainstream concept of measuring development by economic growth. He notes that true development is inherent in the attainment of freedom where people in a society may feel free from all oppressions as contrary to Evans who intimates that true development is based on Economic growth. Annan, spoke about freedom and the rights of the poor in his report named “in larger freedom”. He suggests that the safety of the world would be possible if people are spared from war and fear. This would enable them to live in dignity as human persons. He expresses that the rights of the poor matters like that of the rich. This is based on the fact that these people make the composite of members in a particular society. Unless people are treated fairly and are led to freedom in the developing countries, development has not taken effect.
In somewhat similar view, he shares similar ideas on development like Sen equating development to Freedom. Uvin contends that Sen’s ideas on development were not new by a quote “democracy and development are linked in fundamental ways”.
There are various views and perspectives on development. Notable among them are;
Modernization theory which talks about analysis of the processes in which modernization in societies take place. It looks at the aspects that are beneficial and which constitute obstacles for economic development. It can be derived from the ideas of progress. Some Scholars assert that people can develop and change the society themselves. The interdependence of institutions in a society interact with cultural and social unity. This explains how primitive societies moved to advanced societies. Dependency theory states that not all society’s progress goes through similar stages of development. That is development is dependent on the abilities of the country in retrospect. More recent development theories include sustainable development and human development. As already explained, sustainable development meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland Commission).
Human development is a theory which uses ideas from different origins like ecology, feminism, culture etc. to improve human lives. Amartya Sen is a well-known human development theorist in that light. He stresses on what people can be through their own capabilities.
From the stance of Gallopin on sustainable development using the systems approach, it is only when all the types of sustainability are ensured would true sustainable development be achieved. It could be said that social sustainability and economic sustainability put together would only make development equitable, social and environmental sustainability would make development bearable, economic and environment sustainability would make development viable but in an instance where all three types are put together side by side would produce a sustained development.
2.3 African Traditional Religion
African traditional religion may be described as an indigenous religious forum of the African people that offers them some kind of identity. It involves their culture as a people in a society. Awolalu in ‘studies in comparative religion’ for instance observes that religion permeates every aspect of the life of the African and cannot be studied in isolation but hand in hand with the people who practice it. MacGaffey observes that the African traditional religion is used in two contemporary senses. It encompasses all African beliefs and practices that are considered religious. It is also used almost as a technical term for a particular reading such as beliefs and practices, one that shows that they constitute a systematic whole. African traditional religion is an integral foundation requirement for any African, especially in terms of the African root and experience of which the African is an irremovable part. However, the term has been used by some outsiders as derogatory purporting the African traditional religion to be “paganism”. Efforts are made by other Scholars who refuse this claim. Some scholars used the concept as a term that forms the identity of the African. The intention was to directly disagree in scholarly terms, how other Scholars had portrayed the religion. From the above explanation of the concept of African traditional religion, it can be observed that there are diverse religious resources, beliefs and practices all embedded in African indigenous Religion.
As Mbiti puts it, the African is notoriously religious. Religion permeates into all the aspects of the African life so fully that it is not easy or possible for one to isolate from it. The general worldview of the African is widely religious in that every occurance in the cosmos is related to a higher being or a deity. Redfield in his description of worldview intimates that, an element that is connected to culture is the worldview of people. Worldview is the way man sees himself and the world in a particular society. It relates the conscious effort to trace existence of the human person through creation. From Redfield’s explanation we can conclude that African worldview is significantly religious. The idea seem to agree with Mbiti’s view when he said “…Africans are notoriously religious”. Since African worldview is a religious one, it therefore means that religion and religious practices are the cornerstones to the African’s inspiration to living life. This is the reason that accounts for the entire culture to be permeated with various religious practices. As culture defines the behavioral traits and identity of people, African traditional religion does same to the African person although the religion is only an aspect of culture. African traditional religion is therefore the legacy and identity determinant for the true African hence its importance in the societal framework of Africa. From a more scholarly point of view, African people are the forebears of the religion and as such have passed it forward through generations to the current generation. This connotes the fact that the religion is directly shared by the African people themselves. Hofstede explains that African religion is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the member of one group from another which is passed from generations to generations, it is changing all the time because each generation adds something of its own before passing it on. Hofstede makes a good assertion here because although religion or ways of adaptation exist throughout every society, they are manifested in different degrees and intensities however they do not exist in a vacuum because the society makes it reasonable
Having established this fact, culture is highly diversified in Ghana in accordance with the various ethnic groups (social group). It is impossible to separate one from his culture in the African Sense. Language, belief patterns, coronary skills, socialization processes etc. are various grounds on which diversity of culture in Ghana can be evidenced. The work of Awuah-Nyamekye and Mawere highlights the fact that Africa can achieve sustainable development through harnessing its cultural capital. The book “Harnessing Cultural Capital for Sustainable development: a pan-Africanist Perspective”, argues that if Africa would economically or socially grow, it needs to take decisive steps to realizing that the traditional religion is a cultural capital on the continent. What is being said is that Africa as a continent must endeavor to dip into the benefits of its cultural capital through its usage in order to ensure sustainable development. This is no different in relation to Ghana as a country because our indigenous religion is highly diversified with the various beliefs and practices such as festivals, therefore these differences can be used side by side so as to prioritize it to achieve development in general. As Mbiti again expatiates “I am because we are and because we are, therefore I am”, only goes to prove that our indigenous communal way of living can go a long way to help manage diversity in the Ghanaian culture. This way of managing how diversified our culture is would serve as a cultural capital which will auger well with the conscious efforts and ideals to breed sustainable development in Ghana.
SOURCE OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
The previous chapter discussed the conceptual framework of the study. This present chapter analyzes cultural diversity in African traditional religious life and thought taking into account how diversified festivals are in the cultural fabric of Ghana. Light would be thrown on some few festivals of different ethnic backgrounds in order to show how diversity exists in African traditional religion respectively.
3.0 The development and significance of festivals
The main components of human culture include religious beliefs, which according to Alexander is among the most essential elements. These religious beliefs widely influence different parts of human culture, such as customs, law, family or social hierarchy. For J.H. Turner, culture is a symbolic phenomenon which involves creating and passing on symbols used by people for communication and expression of emotions. With this idea, one can argue that African traditional religion is a symbol that is used to assess the emotions of the African people through their belief and observance of festivals.
The development of festival and its influence on people and the environmental space is not a new phenomenon. It is closely related to the development of human culture, which dates back to the historical roots of the human kind. According to Awolalu and Dopamu, most festivals are associated with specific divinities, spirits or ancestors and are therefore, religious in outlook. More light is shed on the fact that the numerous festivals embedded in the African traditional religion is significantly associated to deities in whom Africans believe to be the directional forces of progress in the community. These spirits and or deities are mostly revered or venerated by the African people associated to them because of the strong belief that these deities make things happen in collaboration with the Supreme Being of course.
Mbiti opines that, through festival the life of the community is renewed. People are entertained and their tensions find an outlet. Festivals draw different people closer together thereby enhancing a strengthened unison and cohesion. During festivals, both religious and social values are deliberately repeated and renewed for communal benefit. This is normally done in the form of arts, dance, music as well as oral communication. The process of festivals are normally used by people as an opportunity to solicit blessings from the Supreme Being and the ancestors as well. What Mbiti tries to illustrate is the fact that festivals have a very important intrinsic value by putting forward that, they provide various ways of reiterating the values and morals of a community and by so doing the African becomes fulfilled. Without festivals, the life of the African may have been dull because every human person needs some sort of rituals and practices to enlighten his/her lives. Mbiti brings out the core relevance of festivals to the African people and the society in which they live respectively. It also analyzes the belief and veneration of ancestors, the concept of God and how respect for customs and values are upheld through these numerous traditional festivals. These practices have counter effects on development on wide range of factors. African traditional religion has many things to offer its adherents or the African society. The authors maintain that for the continent of Africa to reach its peak of economic development, it needs to make a conscious efforts to make good use of the indigenous cultural capitals involved in their societal framework. Taking into consideration the assertions of these two scholars, one can maintain or intimate that the traditional religion of the Africa has a deposit of cultural capital which could be tapped in order to ensure that sustainable development is achieved.
The following paragraphs briefly shows three Ghanaian celebrated festivals throwing light on the most important parts of their processes to aid in establishing the fact of the intrinsic worth involved in the processes of festivals as a source of diversity in African traditional religion.
3.2 The Homowo Festival
The word Homowo is a Ga name for the Ga festival. It is celebrated by the Ga’s of Ghana. The name “Homowo” comes from two Ga words “homo” (hunger) and “wo” (to hoot at). Literally, the word “Homowo” means hooting at hunger. Historically, during the time of migration of the Ga people, they experienced heavy famine and severe hunger. Following this, they worked hard in tilling the land in order to plant corn to overcome hunger. Doing this, the people solicited for help from the Ataa-naa Nyomo (God) through libation to obtain a better yield of the corn they had planted. Their prayers were answered and there was rain which caused the crops to yield abundantly. They were also blessed with abundance in other crops and flocks as well as their fishing activities. It was at this time that the Homowo festival was instituted. The people celebrated these blessings with a locally prepared dish called kpokpoe or kpekple from unfermented corn powder. This was when the ridicule and hooting at hunger started as they ate the kpokpoe. As the people hooted at and ridiculed hunger, they ate the food, poured libation and offered some of the food symbolically to the gods and ancestral spirits.
Homowo is usually celebrated annually between August and September to commemorate the day when hunger was hooted at and ridiculed. The festival may take different forms by the different people who are the Ga Adangbe’s. This idea stems from the fact that there may be a possibility of an individual belonging to different traditions in the same community hence celebrations may be done differently to accommodate all.
The date for the celebration is usually decided on by a council of chiefs or “Wulomei” representing the various groups in the Ga community. The first to begin the celebration is the people of Nungua because they are believed to have been the first to arrive on the land; followed by the people of Gamashi. Teshi is the last to celebrate because it is the youngest of the Ga people that separated from La and was established in 1710.
The preparation for the festival begins by the planting of crops before May since the tradition holds that planting of crops was the beginning of the end of hunger. A ritual called “gbemlilaa” (locking the way) with drumming and music is done in June. The drumming is done by the traditional troops in the different traditional areas. This ritual is simply done to inform people and the ancestors that the celebrations have started officially. Traditional dance and drumming is displayed throughout the Ga community. It is also believed that this wards away bad spirits who may want to use malevolent powers to destroy the celebration. This is followed by “nshobulemo” (ritual to calm the sea), to pave way for the success of the celebration. This ritual is very important because it is believed that the sea harbours most of the gods and spirits. It is done by sprinkling “kpekple” (marshed yam with red oil) into the sea and crowning it with the pouring libation. The ritual serves as a way to pacify the sea gods for any sin that might have been committed prior to the celebration. The people hold that, the sea spirits have the power to destroy the people by allowing the festival to fail hence they need to be pacified. The calming of the sea is done by the various traditional leaders of the different group of the Ga community. Another ritual called “okomfemaa” (ban of fishing), bans fishing in the lagoons until the Homowo festival is over. The ritual is intended to give the people the time away from work so as to help them prepare adequately for the celebrations. Also, the ancestors and the different deities use this period to insect the land and waters. The people believe that this guarantees their protection and safety. The Homowo is preceded by a series of yam festivals in the villages. The people in the villages are expected to come to the respective capital towns of which their respective village belong to when the date for the celebration is near. The villagers are expected to arrive a week before the celebration beginning on Thursday, where farming is prohibited. These people are called “Soobii” (Thursday people). They parade the streets all day and stops only at night. On Tuesday, Marshed yam mixed with palm nut soup is prepared to commemorate the festival. The Mantse (the chief of a particular group of people in the Ga community), clan heads, family heads and head of families pour libation to the gods and sprinkle white “kpokpoe” mixed with palm soup thanking the gods and invite their blessings. This signifies that the feast has started. The next day, Wednesday, is the day of “ngoowala” (gift giving) where the young visit the elderly to wish them long life and the elderly, in turn, gives them different kinds of gifts. Most people from the traditional areas of the Ga State, foreigners, and other Ghanaians in the Ga area gather at Teshi to watch the last celebration of the Homowo season, “Sesebumo”. The Kpashimo of Teshi begins on Sunday with “sesefaa” (the carrying of a wooden dish containing water and sacred leaves). This signifies the purity and innocence of the Ga people. It shows that they are vulnerable and needs the protection of a higher being. They keep the dish for a week and overturns it signifying that they have matured and grown in the blessings from the gods. It ends on Saturday with “Sesebumo” (the overturning of the wooden dish and its contents) to cleanse the people, make their wishes come true, and bless them. The Mantse (chief) pours libation and provides some amount of money as a customary gift of appreciation to the people. The people proceed to the shrines of the Wulomei (chief priest) of the town by turn who also pour libation and provide gifts of appreciation to the ancestors first and then the people.
This opens the way for “kpashimo” (ritual of singing and dancing). The most popular celebration after the feast is the Kpashimo. Kpashimo is of two types. The more gentle type is in the form of traditional songs and dancing and it is called “Amlakui-Akpa” (the dance of the nobility). The group carrying the “sesefaa” (the wooden dish with water and leaves) engages always in this type. The people especially the noble ones including the traditional leaders gather at one place to sing praises in the form of traditional songs to appreciate the deeds of the ancestors for the success of the festival process. They sing all kinds of songs to entertain and to enjoy each other’s company. The other type is very democratic and aims at exposing the wrongs committed by the nobility and commoners alike during the past year with the view of making them change their behavior for the better. After the sesebumo, the people separate into groups. They then proceed to talk about the wrongdoings of the nobility starting with that of the Mantse (chief). This clearly shows how important every individual is in the Ga communities. They then proceed to expose the wrongdoings of individuals. Any person who is exposed of their wrongdoings is expected by tradition to provide some sort of compensation usually money to express his or her appreciation. This goes on from. Saturday is the day of Sesebumo to bring an end to Kpashimo and the Homowo festival as a whole where all attention is focused on the sese (the people carrying the dish) group. In the morning, the sese group goes to the Mantse. They pour libation to invoke blessings from Ataa-Naa Nyonmo (God).
The Homowo festival is an ideal festival of harvest that highlights the religious beliefs of the people of Ga. The veneration of ancestors as well as other deities are evident through the process. The ritualistic nature of this festival gives it a religious appeal. Ancestors are deemed a great deal of respect through the different rituals that are undertaken during the celebration. All of the processes involved in the festival work toward the attraction of blessings and protection from the Supreme Being, deities and ancestors.
3.3 Adae festival
Adae which is the Akan name for “resting place”, it is an important festival for the people of Asante, which involves the invocation, propitiation, and veneration of ancestral spirits. It is celebrated within six-weeks. . As suggested by the meaning of the term, the festival is a day of rest and, as such, work is forbidden. Adae has two celebration days, once on a Sunday (Akwasidae) and again on a Wednesday (Awukudae). The Adae is observed nine times every a year. On the Akan calendar, the ninth Adae Festival, called the Adae Kese Festival (big resting place), coincides with celebration of the New Year. It is therefore celebrated to thank the gods and the ancestors for the new harvest. The festivals within Adae are not very different hence cannot be interchanged.
The day the preparations for the celebration are made is referred to as Dapaa (Normally on Tuesdays and Sundays). On this day, all houses and their environment in the community are to be cleaned to facilitate ancestral visit. In front of “otumfuo’s” (the Asante chief) house, drums are played by a traditional drummer. He does this after he has paid adequate respect to the chief by lowering his cloth and bowing. This is done the whole evening from morning till late night with different ceremonial songs. The chief takes a meal with yam or plantain without salt. It is believed that the gods do not like eating salt therefore their will should be respected. With his processional party, he then proceeds to the chamber where the traditional throne is kept. The food that he left out after eating some, is fed the dead spirits of ancestors; after which a bell is rang indicating that spirits are eating the food. The ritual continues with the sacrifice of sheep by the chief’s attendants. The blood from the sacrifices are used as marks on the forehead and chest of the chief. Then rum is poured over the stool, and what is left is consumed by those present. The belief is that the blood reinforces the stools and the ancestral spirits, and the rum; a symbol of breath of life serves the purpose of giving new life to the stools
All those present at the site greet the chief, who is ceremonially seated at the open courtyard with the greetings “Adae morn”. The court poet recites poems to extol the deeds of the past chiefs, and drums are continuously beaten. The celebration runs until late at night. The food and drink offerings to the stool are removed late in the evening, except for the flesh which is allowed to remain there for more time.
During the last Akwasidae of the year, which coincides with the Adae Kese Festival, making food and giving of gifts to the needy is a priority. In Akwasidae, elderly women sing in traditional songs in the palace towards the evening of Saturday called “Memeneda Dapaa”. A gathering called “Akom” occurs. Here, drums are beaten and horns sounded to welcome the festival amidst dancing and merry making. After the rituals in the morning, a durbar is held at the Manhyia Palace where the “Asantehene” (chief of Asante) sits in state for homage. Preparations for the event begins with the forecourt filled to capacity by traditional rulers and the general public. The arrival of the Asantehene at the durbar grounds is led by a retinue of courtiers led by a man carrying a brasspan believed to drive evil spirits away. Another chief known as the “Nsafoahene” (chief of the keys) carry the traditional golden key. The key, in folklore, signifies that when the Asantehene is out of the palace all doors are shut. The Asantehene comes with a traditional sword in one hand and a whisk in another and dances to traditional music and steps out of the palanquin. He bows gently to the chiefs and other subjects to acknowledge their presence as the movement goes on.
During Akwasidae, traditional rulers usually wear mourning clothes (Kuntunkuni). In Ashanti Region, chiefs are highly visible and organized strongly hierarchically, from the Asantehene, king of Asante, at the top through to the paramount chief (omanhene), divisional chief (ohene) and local village chief (odikro) to the clan or family head (abusua panin). In literature, the person and function of the chief are very much connected to traditional religion wherein Busia wrote that ancestor-worship was the basis of the chief’s authority as well as the sanction for morality in the community. The belief was that the ancestors were the custodians of the laws and customs and that they punished violators of the law with sickness or misfortune. This acted as a check on commoners and chiefs in general. The basis of the respect accorded to the chief is not only that the chief derives his power from the people, but also that the stools, skins and other symbols of office have a spiritual significance, that is, the chief derives his power from the ancestors and mediates between the people and the ancestors.
Religiously, the Adae festival is geared towards ensuring that the religious traditions of the people of Asante are meticulously observed. The beliefs and practices involved in the festival processes are ways of remembering historical personalities who have lived good lives. These people are remembered through the rituals of sacrifices and respect. The religious worth of this festivals is the fact that it also recognizes the place of the hierarchy involved in African traditional religion.
3.4 The Apoo Festival
Apoo is celebrated in Techiman, Wenchi and Nkoranza in April/May. Apoo is from the root ‘po’ meaning ‘to reject’. The Apoo festival is a 13-day observance which is dedicated to the ritual purging of spiritual, cultural and social ills in self and society. Our observance is celebrated around fefewbere (spring). We take advantage of the shift in energy which occurs during what is called the vernal or spring equinox. Apoo festival is dedicated to the eradication of disorder and its purveyors, human and non-human, physical and non-physical, individual and communal. It is a festival for the purification of the people to rid them of social evil that may or may not exist in the societal fabric. The festival lasts 13 days and includes a variety of traditional cultural activity. It with the Apoo procession, when people insinuate the evil doings of some of the citizens, even the Chief is not spared in the midst of all these insinuations. This period is a time for family reunions and unity among the people especially for estranged members of the family.
Historically, the festival is said to have begun during the reign of Nana Kwakye Ameyaw who was an authoritarian and, therefore, the people of Techiman at that time could not express their views freely on what was happening. He never encouraged the views of others in decision making thereby making him an astute authoritarian. He noted that the people were not too vocal during that period but could express their views. Since the people could also not let them those in authority account for their stewardship, they consulted the gods of the area who asked them to set aside some days for them to come out and say what was on their chest more especially on the traditional authorities at that time. During the period of “Apoo” one could not be held responsible for what he or she said, there is freedom of speech for each and every person. The people say “Mereko po me haw” which literally means “I am going to say what was on my chest” and this was how the “Apoo” festival came into existence. The festival was not only about the people getting out what was on their chest about traditional authorities but also all who were in leadership positions in the traditional area at that time.
The core objective of the Apoo traditional festival which is an event commemorated to ensure peace and unity which are pinnacles of social integration and cohesion agrees with the theoretical constructs of festivals by Adom. He admitted that traditional festivals ensure “social cohesion within families, between families and the entire society as a whole”.
Ritually, in Apoo festival includes that of “akraguare” (soul-washing) for seven days leading up to the first day of fefewbere (spring equinox). This is a ritual to turn over a new leaf because it is believe that there should be a new being after the year in which the festival is celebrated. Atonement of sins is done here. Libation is offered to the gods in order to help the people cleanse their souls. This is followed by offerings to the Nananom Nsamanfo (ancestors) and the Abosom (smaller gods). The ancestors are the main forces behind this festival hence they need to be acknowledged and given the respect they deserve.
Individual and communal purification, inclusive of specific dietary observances (fasting, cleansing) and “Aboa Nkwa” (Ritual Movement) are observed, which serve to recalibrate the community to enter the second half of the year with a purified and unified focus as humans. Through the Apoo the ties between the people and Asaase Yaa (earth goddess) is renewed. As a result, the renewal of the balance within the physical, spiritual and communal bodies of the people during this time is restored.
Another ritual in this festival is known as ‘Hyereko’ (Collection of white clay). This is when white clay collected from the Aponkosu River (a river in the Brong-Ahafo municipality, is used to decorate the shrines in the traditional area, while the priests/priestesses also used the clay when they are possessed by spirits. This ritual significantly signifies the clean soul of the people in the community at the end of the festival. White clay here signifies victory or something that is pure to the people of Brong. The final ritual is the Apoo procession. This is the final rite where the people gather to point out wrongdoings of the violators of the law. These people do not take into consideration the position of a person when confronting them. Sometimes, even the chief is not spared. People who are confronted need to pacify the gods with a series of purification and cleansing rituals.
3.5 The ritualistic worth of the studied festivals for development
Now, the three festivals are very ritualistic and shows its relationship with African traditional religion. Festivals are ways of reflection for the African person. This is done through the observation of some rituals that is towed towards the recognition of the Supreme Being as well as other principal figures such as the ancestors in the growth process of a particular society. The various rituals ensures the safety and protection of the African person dependent on the belief that the well-being of the society is ensured by the spirits and ancestors. Festivals are ways of ensuring that these spirits are duly recognized and respected to facilitate a smooth progress of society.
The rituals again supports the framework of norms and values. They teach some values to celebrants through the various rituals. For the mere fact that cultural diversity sits at the helm of all these three festivals, one can conclude that festivals are very much different with respect to ethnic groups in Ghana however, there are some very similar benefits inherent in all the three. Ancestral veneration, taboos, values and sanitation are all aspects that could be streamlined to help achieve sustained development in Ghana.
CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN GHANA.
The previous chapter explores three traditional festivals celebrated in Ghana bringing out their intricate and minute details to aid in the study objective. This present chapter analyses how cultural diversity as illustrated in the festivals if well managed could contribute to sustainable development in the communities studied. The degree of diversity inherent in these festivals may go on to prove their wide array of significance in the effort to achieve a sustained development.
Festivals are linked directly to some deities with whom the people sympathize with. In practice, festivals have diverse aspects that would be discussed in four ways to prove that they could be streamlined for development purposes. The commonalities involved are;
The relationship between nature and the African people
Reiteration of taboos and values
Indirect attraction of different people to these festival
4.1 The Relationship between Nature and the African people
The relationship between Africans and nature is apparent in the life of every African. The African is mainly “cosmotheandric” (the term means that African man relates with the environment, the people around him and God) hence his relationship with God and nature is something that cannot be forgone. Now, these traditional festivals are all linked to the Supreme Being and nature in one way or the other ranging from vegetation to waterbodies as well as the core aspect of food. The institution of festivals dates back to the existence of mankind hence it has been a way to channel appreciation to all the great natural phenomenon that is shown in all three traditional festivals. The most apparent phenomenon is that of the ‘Land’. Lands have great significance in all the three festivals as much respect is deemed them in the African setting. The study realized that these three festivals has a place for the sacredness of some lands which are not to be tempered with as a result of the reverence the communities that celebrate these festivals attach to them. Very significant roles are represented in these lands which are highly associated with these festivals. For instance in the Brong-Ahafo region, Techiman to be precise, there is the ‘Amanfo Mu’ which is a sacred grove believed to be a spiritually protected piece of land that is not supposed to be tempered with. Upon interviewing a resident of Techiman, it was found out that the piece of land is the exact spot where Nana Akumfi Ameyaw (the chief who instituted the Apoo festival) was buried. Out of a deeper respect and reverence for the historical chief, the spot is shielded with walls and a gate believed to be watched over by the ancestors who directly deal with anyone who would dare to temper with that piece of land. Respect for the legacy of this chief has made the spot sacred and seen as a haven for the ancestors of the community in general. The people of Techiman are known to be very superstitious people because they hold on to the fact that nature has its way of progressing therefore respect is deemed the land as a natural phenomenon. An informant hinted that under no circumstance is anyone supposed to get passed the gate that closes the entire tract of land. The land has become a sacred resting place for the ancestors and as such, the festival of Apoo is celebrated to mark the remembrance of the iconic chief and what he stood for when he instituted the festival. Sacred groves are tracts of virgin forest with rich diversity, which have been protected by the local people for centuries for their cultural and religious beliefs and taboos. The Homowo festival also holds the land in high esteem because the whole festival is centered on it. The issue of famine sprung up and the only avenue available to overcome it was the land which was tilled and planted on. Prayers and libation to the ancestors was carried out after which they had a bountiful harvest. This is a clear indication of how these people have a deeper relationship with God and nature. The issue of biodiversity sets in here because as a results of these festivals, a wide array of ideals help in protecting these lands as well as the animals on them as a natural resource. Biodiversity underlines the variety of plants and animal life in the environment. It is considered to be very important and desirable to human life. It forms the various kinds of ecosystems that are critical to the wellbeing of mankind. People have the ability to influence biodiversity either negatively or positively therefore if it is influenced negatively, it could create very bad repercussions to human beings themselves. The biodiversity card played by these festivals are very important because it allows for the lands to retain their natural state without any interference. Upon interviewing some people in these areas, it was realized that reality is both material and physical for the traditional Ghanaian and by virtue of this belief, they do not look at the environment as a mere space but as a divine phenomenon. Therefore, they honor the environment with due respect. For instance, Agya Asare from the town of wamfie informed me that in every situation, he directly calls for the help of the earth to show his respect and allegiance to what he calls “Asaase Yaa” which means mother earth. He recounted that the idea stemed from history where refusal to do this caused great misfortunes for his people. Nii-noi Nortey from Teshie also says that the environment is very sacred to the Ga people which is evident in the ban of noise making during the period of Homowo. He says that the spirits of the earth come to live with the people therefore noise pollution would force them to believe that their help and intervention are not needed in anyway which would cause their absence.
4.2 Ancestral veneration
Ancestors are a prime part of the African traditional fabric and as such play a pivotal role in the African cosmos. Mbiti defines ancestors as the departed ones who are dead and are believed to be living in the minds of those who knew them when they were alive. They are seen as always present and influence the affairs of people in the African community. As a result of this, people venerate them to ask for protection, blessing and help in times of need. To venerate is to regard with great respect or to revere. The Ghanaian traditional religion acknowledges a lot of spiritual beings, including the Supreme Being, the earth goddess, the lesser gods (abosom), the ancestors, and a host of other spirits and deities. The ancestors are perhaps the most significant spiritual forces in this culture aside the Supreme Being. Each lineage or clan reveres its important deceased members (ancestors) both individually and collectively. They are believed to exist in the afterlife and are in charge of helping or destroying their descendants, who must pray to them through the observation of virtuous lives devoid of crimes or sin. Ancestral beliefs are also built into political rites, as the ancestors of the royal lineage, especially deceased kings and chiefs, serve as major foci for general public observance.
Ancestors are people that are believed to be agents of law enforcement or traditional police. These “people” are very much involved in the affairs of a traditional African community and are believed to be charged with the power to punish and reward by the Supreme Being hence pleasing them is ideal to traditional African community. An elderly man who is said to be an informant on the matters of ancestry in Techiman called Nana Agyei Berefour said that during every typical Ghanaian traditional festival and especially the Apoo, ancestors come and stay with the people. Prior to their arrival, conscious efforts are made to ensure that the environment is preserved enough in the best way possible so that it can properly facilitate the blessings and rewards from the ancestors before and during the period of the festival. The view of this elderly man shows that the people clearly believe in the existence of the ancestors. They strongly believe that ancestors are security agents charged by the Supreme Being to protect, guide, bless and punish hence buttresses the point of Dickson’s argument that ancestors are policemen. Indirectly, the presence of the ancestors during the period of these festivals makes development happen through the people as a result of ancestral veneration. The belief in ancestral spirits is a part and parcel of the people in these areas. Therefore, they consciously try not to go against the rules and regulations set by the ancestors of the land. The chief of Bantama, Baffour Owusu Amankwatia VI referred to ancestors as principals. He believes that these “people” are figures who sit at the helm of affairs on earth taking instructions from the upper body hence the Supreme Being. He says that the words of the ancestors are directly determined by the people just as the decisions of a principal of a school is determined by the conducts of his pupils. This is all because the people believe that the ancestors are still with them and can strike them with different afflictions if they go against their instructions.
4.3 Reiteration of Taboos and Values
The African value system is very wide and quite insightful. In the view of O’sullivan and Jackson, festivals bring out the taboos and values that are intricate. During festivals, light is thrown on the values and taboos embedded in the practice as a whole. Learning more about these festivals reveal the silent values that are embedded in the processes of traditional festivals especially the three involved in the study. All the three festivals are value oriented festivals as and when public education takes effect as part of the process involved in the festival. African Cultural Values have been discussed by many other African writers. One can summarize their views into eight African Cultural Values which includes; Sense of community life, Sense of good human relations, Sense of the sacredness of life, Sense of hospitality, Sense of the sacred and of religion, Sense of time, Sense of respect for authority and the elders, Sense of language and proverbs.
In the Adae festival, no one except the ‘Banmuhene’ (the chief for the sacred place) is allowed to go into the ‘Banmu’ (a sacred place where royals are buried) with sandal. This on a more educational note serves as a tool to realize the hierarchy of respect involved in the Akan traditional leadership system. Through these festivals, the core values of respect, patience, love, togetherness, care etc. are given to the people through public education which is done with respect to the particular festival. The Homowo festival teaches the value of hard work underlining indirectly that until a person works very hard for self-development, he/she would not be fulfilled. This is inspired by the main reason or motivation behind the celebration of the festival. Here, environmental education is given on how to correctly till the land in order to gain a bountiful harvest. The Adae festival emphasizes the ideals of love and care as it becomes mandatory during the celebrations of the festival to gift the needy in the society. It teaches to love the next person as one would love himself. The Apoo festival on the other hand highlights the importance of speaking out on the wrongdoings of other people thereby providing a mechanism of solving or correcting such wrong doings.
Etymologically, taboos means something that is forbidden. Gyekye explains it as a sort of prohibition encompassing certain times, places, actions, events and people but only for some religious reason. The Akan dialect views taboos as “Akyiwade” (anything that is prohibited). Prohibitions such as murder, incest, suicide etc. are all taboos in African traditional thought.
Taboos are also very much enforced through these festivals. During the Adae, people are supposed to rest from work which stems from the fact that people must leave work so as to allow the ancestors bless and protect the community in their endeavors. Hence when a taboo is broken, it demands a certain kind of punishment from the ancestors. This may be the obvious reason why people are to stop work during this period. But, a deeper meaning is given that the natural state of the community where people work as farmers as their main line of work needs to rest in order to replenish its vital nutrients which would facilitate the availability of lands to help in the production of plants and animals. These three festivals has a core value of creating peaceful coexistence between the people and nature. This kind of education becomes intrinsic as it becomes part and parcel of the lives of the people. It facilitates obedience and respect for traditional authorities that would in the long run produce a greater force to allow development to occur. This fact is in agreement with the idea that is painted by Crespi and Richards that traditional festivals improve the integration in a society through living in the accepted norms and values of the communities.
Again, in the eligible towns of the Ga municipality that celebrate the Homowo festival, it is a taboo to make incessant noise in the environment during the observation. It is believed that this act of noise making detaches the people from the ancestors which would adversely cause a weakened structure of protection for the people. This brings about the avoidance of noise making and noise pollution in the environment. The water bodies are also associated with the gods or abosom especially in the Ga municipality where the people must ensure cleanliness of these water bodies during the period of observance. The people are mandated to keep these water bodies clean and pure because it is the dwelling place of some of the gods. Anyone who will go contrary to this rule will be punished by the gods.
4.4 indirect attraction of people to host communities
Traditional festivals are a colourful and joyful manifestation of attitudes in practice that may attract different people from different walks of life who would love to experience these festivals for various reasons of religious, academic and social essence. The communities that host these festivals become the face for them. These festivals under radar serve as an identity booster for their host communities in Ghana. Traditionally, festivals are as the result of the cultural identity of the spaces where they occur. There have been the use of festivals for marketing tool in the development of tourist spaces over the years. For instance the Apoo festival is peculiar to the communities of Techiman and Wamfie. As a result, these communities are hosts for the vibrant and insightful festival. A young informant said that before the celebrations commence, the youth are tasked with the responsibility to prepare the venues. This brought the realization that there is always the conscious effort to be perfect in the arrangements of the festivals. This is not only for ancestral purposes but also for the purpose of identity. This stems from the general outlook of the community based on the people who come to experience these festivals. For the purpose of uplifting the image of the community, a lot of preparations are done so as to facilitate visitors into these communities. During the Adaekese this year, different people from different races came to witness and in order to create a strong societal image, preparations were made to ensure smooth running of the festival. Some wealthy people in these host communities may come on board to help with the environmental cleanliness among other developmental activities in these communities. This is a fact that agrees with the idea of Janiskee when he suggests that festivals facilitates the enhancement of the environment on a wide range of factors. These factors are the enhancements of soil fertility, Humidity and beautification. Quinn suggests that during the period of festivals, avenues for the creation of infrastructure and amenities become the norm basically as a result of the conscious effort to create and maintain a good societal image.
All of these aspects of the three traditional festivals have the ability to have a positive dynamic effect on the societal progress of the host communities that would go a long way to breed development for these communities. With that said, the traditional councils as well as the people in these communities believe that the attraction of the people is as a result of the active participation of the ancestors. Nii-noi Nortey believes that the reasons that account for the attraction is directly sourced from the many blessings that are given them by the ancestors during these times of celebrations.
It is very important to note that although there are aspects of possible development in these festivals, its effect cannot be realized if adaptive measures are not put in place to help streamline its benefits to achieve development. In order to achieve a sustained development through the various aspects of these festivals, some mechanisms need to be put in place. Realistically, traditional festivals such as Homowo, Adae, and Apoo are entirely focused on the promotion of ideals of environmental and human sustainability in the Ghanaian society. Gallopin suggests that for real development to be sustained all the arenas of sustainability thus, human, environmental and social should be put together in an agenda to build a sustained development in a country. The African traditional religion as manifested through the three festivals under study focuses on the types of sustainability. Moreover, subjecting these festivals to Gallopin’s idea of systems approach, there’s a very high chance of ensuring sustainable development in the country just by following this directive. Now, the mechanisms of the festivals themselves are apparent but it is up to us to make it a framework to achieve a sustained development. Speaking to the Techiman town council, it was pointed out that for these festivals to be more development centered, there should be some proactive measures taken by the ministry of culture and tourism to ensure a controlled level of support. It can be fiscal or human resource provision. The council hinted that they are in dire need of money from sponsors and other people who have interest in this field. They however pointed out that every Ghanaian especially the traditional people should be very much involved in the processes and mechanisms involved in these celebrations entirely.
Cudnyargues that festivals are a series of entertaining rituals which some of the respondents hinted on by saying that on these occasions, they perform some roles that reenact the historical happenings under which the festival is instituted. The study sees this as a very important tool to realise the full potential of these performances as a money boosting area which may aid the communities involved to improve on their communal living on a more general level.
The traditions, values and indigenous knowledge systems of the communities are a part and parcel of their lives from which they cannot alienate themselves. As a way to help boost appreciation of this religion and its worth, public education by the media on the various historical backgrounds of certain festivals in Ghana could be carried out. Without a strenuous effort, the festivals would be publicized to the world which would definitely enhance development.
Gadzekpo argues that, festivals are periods where there is the abundance of economic activities that are highly beneficial in terms of finance for local craftsmen and other food vendors. He added that, traditional festivals ensure and improve tourism; because the patronage of these festivals by foreigners is to witness the array of artistic manifestations and the rich dynamic culture of the society. This ensures that the society in question gain some kind of honor and recognition. According to the author, the foreigners purchase many of these sold items from the locals, giving them advantage of income for the society and enhancement of the societal image. His explanations suggests the various economic benefits that a society stands to gain from the celebration of traditional festivals. With this importance highlighted, it is worth noting that these foreigners come to Ghana willing to learn and explore the culture of the people hence giving the culture its value. Strategies could be adopted to ensure that the foreigners are well taken care of considering the accommodation as well as their safety so as to let them know how hospitable Ghana is. This could be done by individuals who may invest in the tourism industry of Ghana and also by organizations that are interested in this field. African traditional religion would be a great tool to show the vibrant and buoyancy of the Ghanaian culture directly because of the beliefs and practices involved in the religion. The rich and dynamic culture of traditional Ghana especially in that of the festivals, enhance growth and development.
SUMMERY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Africa is full of religious phenomena which invariably remain untapped for development purposes. Ghana is no exception to this fact considering its traditional religion. The study dealt with cultural diversity as reflected in African traditional religious beliefs and practices such as festivals. The main objective was to see how this religious and cultural resource could be tapped into societal development. Homowo, Adae and Apoo festivals were used. The study uncovered the integrities involved in these three festivals.
All the three festivals have very distinctive place for ancestors because of the belief that they can either bless or curse. The extent at which they are revered is overwhelming. Some argue that there is ancestral worship in African traditional religion. However, the study reveals that ancestors are venerated and not worshipped. The festivals in the study also recognize the sovereignty of the Supreme Being but underline the fact that he is a higher being and as such one cannot go to him directly but through the ancestors. The pejorative connotation of ancestral worship attached to African Traditional Religion is proven wrong with regards to the findings through the study of these festivals. Respondents made it clear that the Supreme Being himself appoints the ancestors to mediate between him and the people.
The study reveals the significance of history in African Traditional Religion in relation to traditional festivals. The three festivals highlight the importance of the historical happenings in light of the motivations for the celebration of the festival. History is the main reason why festivals are celebrated. The Homowo is celebrated to remember when hunger was overcome. The Apoo festival is celebrated to remember the first king who brought democracy to the people of Techiman. The study reveals that festivals are ways through which religious and traditional people give recognition to ancestors and forebears who held the religion from generation to generation. However, respondents pointed out that history is not certain basically because it could be recounted wrongly by other people who may not know the history very well.
Youth involvement in these festivals are numerically high. This is due to the fact that the youth are the youngest generation therefore the celebration puts them on a higher pedestal; the values from the festivals are meant to be imparted into them. Also, the youth take active roles in the exhibition and display of dances and drama. The Adae festival uses the young guys as troops for dances and drama and as a direct results, they become value oriented.
Again, respondents worry that media coverage is not really ensured during the celebration. The traditional council of Techiman recounted that the media has failed to highlight the good inherent in the festivals instead they publicize the ills associated to the festivals. Also, the study reveals the lack of traditional education for the people of Ghana. This has accounted for the lack of active involvement of people in the celebration of these festivals. Modernity has tuned people’s minds away from their religion.
The three festivals create lots of employment for different people. Traders who sell all kinds of products during the festival period recount that they earn a lot of money than normal within festival periods. Again, young people who engage in the dancing and drama are trained professionally are paid to grace these occasions with their expertise in dance and drama. It is very important to know that all the three festivals under study encourage this considerably.
The research is directly geared towards the achievement of sustainable development through the management of cultural diversity in terms of the contributions of African traditional religion. African traditional religion has been explained in the subsequent chapters and has been made clear that the religion is highly beneficial however, this intrinsic worth has not been realized yet. Channeling some of its benefits through its diversified culture would be instrumental to achieve sustainable development. Three religious festivals were chosen thus; Homowo, Adae and the Apoo festivals respectively. These festivals were assessed and brought under academic scrutiny in the light of the study objective, where the realization of the unity in diversity was achieved. That is to say that although these festivals are considerably different in terms of their mechanisms and processes as well as their origins, they produce the development Ghana craves for that is if some proactive measures are put in place. After the study, these conclusions were made;
Traditional festivals as a source of cultural diversity in African traditional religion has the intrinsic value of ensuring certain touristic opportunities. The three festivals thus; Homowo, Adae and Apoo festival under retrospect command some sort of attention from people who are entirely strangers to the whole process. The practices involved in these festivals are so deep-rooted in mystery that indirectly draw people from different races to witness them. Whatever the reason, the bottom-line is that these people come as tourists who may broaden the image of Ghana by recounting the experiences they had throughout the festive process. This attracts positive recognition for the country as long as tourism is concerned.The Adae festival employs lots of traditional and colourful clothing that are locally made which makes the festival attractive enough to the masses. The Homowo festival hoots at hunger through the display of food in a more traditional and organized way and becomes alien to a foreigner hence motivating them to patronize the festival. On the other side of this touristic value is the aspects of Economic glide. When these foreigners troop into the country to explore any of these festivals, they are most likely to spend on food, accommodation etc. and these monies could serve as foreign exchange for the country. It would be highly comprehensive to conclude that foreign exchange is used for various developmental projects such as the construction of roads, schools, hospitals among many other amenities.
The three festivals the researcher studied are good sources of sanitation mechanisms. This is based on the revelation from respondents that the ancestors are prominent in these lands thereby ensuring a serene and clean environment shows gratitude and respect. The place of ancestors is believed to be a representation of God on earth with the owner to bless and curse. As a result, host communities make conscious efforts to readily clear the filth from these communities because of the reverence given to these ancestors. Biodiversity is not left out entirely as a result of ancestral involvement in these festivals. The conservation of plants and animals in their habitats is a benefit that Ghana gains from these festivals. Sacred places and lands are elements of these festivals largely because of the idea that the ancestors are sole owners or caretakers of these lands. The variety of lands and animals in these sacred places are basically of touristic values and may attract the patronage of foreigners.
Socio-economic benefits stem from these religious traditional festivals. Host communities of these festivals have a history and reason behind the celebration of these festivals and maybe a very religious or cultural one. However, it is the people in general who stand to benefit from these festivals. On the social aspect of these festivals, there are a number of benefits the community gains from these festivals. First and foremost, festivals serve as a unifying front for the people who celebrate them. Here, the relationships are built and interactions become stronger. These festivals serve as guiding principles to discourage unaccepted social behaviors like the various crimes. It goes on to create a crime-free society. Traditional festivals like that of Homowo, Adae and Apoo festivals has the importance of discussing developmental policies across board. The people come together to device ways and means to encourage some policies which would make the community better in every sense. Now these projects are mainly between investors and the traditional leaders. The Apoo festival for instance discussed that the sacred grove could be made an environmental reserve by some investors who had seen how related the festival is to these sacred groves. The traditional council recounted this to the researcher at the time of interview. Economically speaking, fiscal advantages are invited indirectly both on the personal level and on the social level as well.
Technological advancements are brought about by some traditional religious festivals. Traditional festivals dwell on the history as motivation for the celebration of the festivals. The Homowo festival for instance concentrates on eradicating hunger, investors as well as other individuals may come on board to suggest ways through which hunger would be eradicated aside from the normal historical ways. The agricultural development involved in this is so massive that the community people are shown how to increase soil fertility, irrigation, and how to control or eradicate pests. This serves as an innovative way to help achieve the sustainable development goal two that says “zero hunger”. This profoundly breeds a sustained development while still maintaining the traditional stance.
First and foremost, Media indulgence is a key mechanism to ensure sustainable development through African traditional religion. The significance of these festivals towards the achievement of sustainable development is of a great intrinsic worth however proactive measures to ensure media support is needed. The media comprise of a plethora of the communication mechanisms that aims at the dissemination of information. The mass media suggest that communication is geared towards the significant majority of the society. It is incredible to know that the level of influence the media has on the opinions of people is enormous and overwhelming. This is the main reason why media involvement is actively needed to enlighten people on the various festivals that highlights the traditions and religion of the traditional Ghanaian society. The media is very instrumental in the shaping of public opinion therefore painting a picturesque of a very important institution of the traditional religion would go a long way to influence the opinions of People regarding it. The stereotypical ideas in people’s minds could be changed considerably following the advent of the media. Television and radio stations could advertise the celebration of a particular festival on their channels directly because doing that would introduce the host communities to the world at large traditional festivals. It is very important that the mass media be made to understand their service is for the benefit of humanity therefore anything that would help develop the nation is worth broadcasting. Traditional leaders as well as the people themselves could make it a social responsibility to making sure advertisements of their festivals are made so as to forward unto different cultures and people. The traditional areas need to be educated on the fact that the media is a tool which could be used to advertise hence making the marketing of these festivals very possible. Another aspect of media indulgence is the aspect of media indulgence is the aspect of digital marketing. It entails a conscious effort to penetrate the opinions of people in the society regarding a product. In this sense, the product is the traditional festival. Traditional festivals like the Homowo, Adae and Apoo could use the art of digital marketing to reach the majority of people in the society. The history of the host community may be projected on social media platforms, websites and other online portals. The reason for this recommendation is directly linked to the fact that the mass media holds a very pivotal role in the public opinions of people.
Second, traditional Education entails a conscious effort to learn and teach the traditions of a society. African traditional religion is a very resourceful religion and as such needs to be shown. This could be done through traditional education. Traditional education could be introduced into the educational systems in Ghana which would mean that most people would learn about their traditions and culture in schools. This would go a long way to produce the love for culture and religion. It would also breed cultural involvement in relation to the people in the society. Again, there is the need to monetize our creativity as indigenous Africans. The ways through which festivals are celebrated are very creative and innovative hence demands that people are made to patronize the processes so as to continue doing them during the celebrations. Drama and dance performances are done to give the people a pictorial presentation of what really happened historically that brought about the festivals. Traditional education is not necessarily supposed to be carried out in classrooms only, it involves the socialization processes of the African child. Knowing that the African is very religious says a lot that the religion could not be isolated from an African person. In my opinion, this is partly as a result of traditional education. On the other side, public education could pass as a forum to ensure that our traditional religion is known. The only process that is responsible for other people to know about the worth of traditional religion is traditional education. For this to happen, there should be active involvement of the people in the religion so as to develop the love for it. People need to know that African traditional religion is not the barbaric religion some people have been made to believe.
Again, the Government of Ghana is needed to formulate some proactive strategies to ensure that sustainable development is achieved through African traditional religion. The government of Ghana has taken the first step to realizing this in my opinion. The institution of the ministry or chieftaincy and religious affairs aims directly at ensuring the maintenance of the prestigious traditional religion in many ways. However, dynamic mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the worth of the religion would be geared towards achieving sustainable development in Ghana. One thing the government can do is to set up a research committee that would research into the religion more to find out possible ways to ensure that the benefits that are sourced from the religion are streamlined towards the achievement of sustainable development. Delegations should be made to attend these festivals and reported back to the ministry about the processes and mechanisms involved and how they can promote development. Strategic policies like this could be made to ascertain some of the ingredients that would ensure development through the festivals in the study.
Last but not the least, research should be a way through which African traditional religion would can help achieve sustainable development in Ghana. Many scholars have written and researched into the area of sustainable development over the years. Some have suggested ways through which the sustainable development goals could be achieved. Not many of these scholars have studied that African traditional religion has an intrinsic worth that can be channeled to mean sustainable development in Ghana. There is the need that the religion be researched into in order to find innovative ways to help fuel the cause to achieve sustainable development in Ghana by 2020. Research could be conducted on all the various parts of the religion thus; the religious beliefs and practices, the religious experiences and the religious institutions. Students of religion especially needs to make this a priority to prove that religion can help achieve the sustainable development goals through active researches and study. This could go a long way to add to the excess of literature on the issue which may probably dictate to the government on how to use religion to achieve sustainable development at a point in time. Modernity has shifted the African traditional religion away from the open although they are still part and parcel of the African man. This is why it is very important to know that solving a problem in this context would need a touch of the religion if the natives are going to lend a helping hand. This is exactly what the research should be directly based on. Proving that the religion is very much prominent and that it holds a very important role in ensuring development in the society.
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