Exploring the magnificence of Ghanaian traditional marriage.

Stories and facts

Ghanaian traditional marriage, commonly known as "engagement," encompasses a ceremonial event that can be solely celebrated traditionally or followed by a "blessing" or a white wedding. The specific rituals and customs of this traditional ceremony differ across the various tribes in Ghana but certain elements remain consistent.

The initial stage of the process involves the groom informing his family about his intention to marry a particular woman. Whether the bride is known to the family or not, this announcement initiates the "knocking" ceremony, also known as "kokooko." This symbolic act represents a respectful request for acceptance into the bride's family.

During the "knocking" ceremony, the groom's delegation officially notifies the bride's family of the groom's desire to marry her. Using poetic language, the head of the groom's delegation expresses the groom's admiration for the bride, comparing her to a beautiful flower in their garden, and seeks permission to "pluck" this flower. This ceremonial conversation emphasizes the groom's commitment to tradition by formally asking for the bride's hand in marriage. Additionally, the "knocking" ceremony allows both families to acquaint themselves with each other.

Accompanying the groom's family are "tri nsa" or head drinks, which may include Schnapps, palm wine, or cash. Acceptance of these drinks signifies the bride's agreement to the proposed union, opening the door for further proceedings. Subsequently, a date for the traditional marriage ceremony may be agreed upon, or the couple may decide to postpone this decision. Additionally, the groom's family is presented with a marriage or engagement list, consisting of items such as dowry/bride price, African print pieces, jewelry, a Bible, rings, money for the bride's parents, and gifts for her siblings.

The specific contents of the marriage list vary depending on the bride's family, ranging from simple to elaborate and expensive. Irrespective of its complexity, the groom is expected to fulfill all items on the list on the marriage day. In some cases, families may choose not to provide a list, allowing the groom to make his offerings to avoid any perception of "selling" their daughter.

As preparations for the traditional marriage ceremony begin, the bride's family conducts background checks on the groom and his family, including inquiries into family reputation, health history, criminal record, and marital status. Positive outcomes facilitate smooth progress in the marriage preparations.

Generally, the traditional marriage ceremony takes place at the bride's home or another suitable venue. Before the commencement of the ceremony, there is a festive atmosphere with music and dance, performed by traditional dance groups, live bands, or DJs, creating an atmosphere of celebration and happiness.

When the groom and his family arrive, bearing gifts from the marriage list, the bride's family warmly welcomes them. The presentation of gifts is followed by the introduction of the groom to the assembled guests. Subsequently, the bride enters the scene, accompanied by her female friends or sisters, wearing beautiful kente cloth and beads. She mingles with the groom's family, offering greetings as a sign of welcome.

After the introduction, the bride is asked if she accepts the gifts brought by the groom's family. Her affirmative response, repeated thrice, confirms her agreement to the marriage. Later on, she is presented to the abusuapanyin (head of the family) of the groom's family, with a request for her everlasting beauty. The bride then joins her groom, and the couple receives counsel and well-wishes from both families, discussing various aspects of married life.

The traditional marriage ceremony encapsulates a complete marital process on its own. However, for those desiring a white wedding, the traditional ceremony serves as a precursor. Some couples sign the marriage certificate in a church or state-recognized venue, while others while others may choose a court or registrar of marriages. Alternatively, couples may opt for a blessing ceremony conducted by a priest or pastor, omitting the white wedding aspect.

As the traditional marriage ceremony draws to a close, guests are treated to an array of dishes and drinks, ranging from jollof rice to banku and pepper, reflecting Ghana's culinary diversity. Wedding favors, usually personalized items, are distributed to guests as tokens of appreciation.

Following the ceremony, the bride and groom express gratitude to their guests before embarking on their new journey together, enveloped in the love and blessings of their families and friends.

With the traditional marriage ceremony concluded successfully, the newlyweds begin their shared life journey amidst a backdrop of cherished traditions and enduring love.



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