A rite of passage among the Krobos of Eastern Region, Ghana

Thesis by Priscilla Akua Boakye

The transition from childhood to adulthood is a major one, not only for the individual but the society at large. In some societies, the rites of passage are observed to usher young people into adulthood. The Krobos in Ghana are no exception. They have the most elaborate puberty rites for girls in Ghana today. This study investigates the historical background of the practice, the changes it has undergone and reasons for these changes. The ways in which this practice forms part of the ethnic identity of the Krobos and more importantly, a Krobo woman is explored. The study draws on concepts such as gender, values, modernization, and ethnicity. The study reveals that the practice was a form of vocational training for young women in which they were taught generally how to assume their roles as responsible women in the society. Changes observed in the rite serve to ensure its continuity. The custom is adept with symbols, the major one being that initiates are transformed into women. The study shows that the custom is a means of female empowerment in a patrilineal society as it is aimed at bringing females into the limelight. People adhere to the practice mainly because it is tradition and the desire to have a place in their family home in Kroboland. The deep sense of belonging therefore becomes part of the motivation to engage in the practice. Christianity and modernization are however factors that make people refrain from the practice. The practice was however described as a rich custom and an ethnic hallmark of the Krobos.

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