Charles was born and raised in Ghana (in West Africa) and is very passionate about the culture and traditions of the Ghanaian people.
The Importance of Ghanaian Myths
Ghana is a country that has one of the richest cultural heritages in Africa. Being home to roughly 100 linguistic and cultural groups, it comes as no surprise that it has a wide variety of beliefs and myths. These myths have been passed on from one generation to the next and have become an integral part of Ghanaian society.
Myths in Ghana mainly serve to explain the origin of some of the most important artifacts, symbols, and resources that the country possesses. This adds an element of mystery and fascination to them and increases their value. They are also used to teach positive moral values, such as hard work, perseverance, and obedience to the young in society.
Below are six Ghanaian myths and legends that are integral to Ghanaian culture.
1. The Golden Stool From the Sky
This 18-inches-high, 24-inches-long, and 12-inches-wide stool made of pure gold is so sacred that it is never allowed to come in contact with the ground, and no one has ever sat on it. It is the royal and divine throne of the Ashanti people and is believed to house the spirit of the Asante nation.
All chiefs have a symbolic replica of the stool, and not many have seen the original. Only the king and trusted advisers know of its hiding place.
Legend has it that the golden stool descended from the sky through the chants of one of their greatest traditional priests by the name of Okomfo Anokye. It landed on the lap of the first Asante King, Osei Tutu, which he used to unify the people in the 17th century.
2. Weaving of Kente Cloth Taught by a Spider
Kente cloth is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan ethnic group. It is a royal and sacred cloth and was worn only by kings during special occasions and festivities.
This cloth used to be woven by only men as it was believed that a woman's menstrual cycle could interfere with its production.
The cloth's legend dates back 375 years in a small city called Bonwire in the Ashanti Kingdom. Two brothers, Kurugu and Ameyaw, went hunting one afternoon and found a spider weaving an amazing web. They observed the details and mechanics of the web weaving and returned home to implement it. They successfully made their first cloth using black and white fibers from a raffia tree.
3. The Friendly Crocodiles of Paga
Most people would think twice before stepping close to a 12-foot crocodile and justifiably so. However, this is not the case for the residents of Paga, a village in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Here, there has been a mutual coexistence between the indigents of Paga and their friendly crocodiles throughout history.
These crocodiles are considered very sacred, and it is taboo to hurt or kill them. They are believed to house the souls of the Paga people. Mysteriously, the death of some of the biggest crocodiles always coincides with the death of most of the important personalities within the village.
The reason for this bond goes far back to the founder of Paga, called Nave. Nave was said to be on the brink of death from thirst after he left his home in Leo, in present-day Burkina Faso. He chanced upon a crocodile which guided him to a water hole now called Katogo and saved his life. He therefore decreed that none of his descendants should ever kill or harm any crocodile.
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4. The Giant of Asebu
The Asebu/Abura/Kwamankese District might seem like an ordinary district in the Central Region of Ghana. However, this district is far from the ordinary. The ancient Asebu Kingdom, which was the first Fante chiefdom to sign a treaty with the Dutch Republic in 1612, was situated in this district. This treaty allowed the Dutch to establish Fort Nassau at Moree, a village in the Asebu Kingdom.
The Asebu Kingdom was believed to have been founded by a giant called Asebu Amenfi after he fled Egypt. It was said that this giant led an army that chased the children of Israel during the Exodus. When his men drowned, he could not return to the Pharaoh, so Asebu Amenfi fled with his family across Lake Chad. They then went further down to Benin City in Nigeria and finally settled around the coastal region of Southern Ghana.
Once he arrived in Southern Ghana, he joined forces with a prolific hunter called Nana Adzekase, who became the first chief of Moree. Asebu Amenfi's brother, Farnyi Kwegya, took advantage of the incredible abundance of fish in the waters in the region and became the first chief fisherman.
Being a man of incredible stature, it was no surprise that Asebu Amenfi had a voracious appetite. It was said that he could consume a mind-blowing amount of corn in a single day. His sister, Amenfima or Amenfiwaa, ensured his appetite and well-being were met by constantly cooking corn for him.
The Giant of Asebu was believed to have incredible strength and power and left his handprints on rocks that he barely touched. These prints still exist today and serve as a sacred heritage site. His staff, which he used for his various conquests, also exists today and serves as a heritage object that accounts for his might.
5. Adze, Firefly Vampire of the Ewes
Every society has its myth and legend about vampires, and Ghana is no exception. The Ewe people, located in the Volta Region of Ghana, believe in a vampire who can take the form of a firefly they call Adze.
Adze craves the blood of the innocent and hence mostly feeds on children. Their alternate source of food is palm oil and coconut water, and they often raid a village's entire supply of these. However, the diet of palm oil and coconut water does not provide them with the same needed nourishment that the blood of infants does. If deterred from feeding on blood for a long period of time, it would go on a crazy frenzy for blood.
The Adze also has the power to possess a human. Human sorcerers sometimes willingly allow Adze to possess them so that they can utilize Adze's powers and abilities. Once Adze has inhabited them, these sorcerers are able to take the form of any object they desire.
The Ewes believe that there is no way to protect against an Adze. The only measure against them is to capture them by luring them with coconut water and palm oil. Once captured in their firefly form, they would be forced to take their human form. It's only when they are in their human form can these vampires be finally destroyed.
6. The Mystic Stone at Larabanga
This sacred stone holds incredible power and is located in Larabanga, a village in the Northern Region of Ghana. This stone is located within a few minutes' walking distance from the Larabanga mosque, which is touted as one of the oldest mosques in West Africa and the oldest in Ghana.
The Larabanga people tell the legend of how the founder of the town was passing through the area and decided to pass the night. Men of that era were spiritually strong and would not do anything without consulting any deity that they believed in. His deity ordered him to throw his spear and use the landing place as his resting ground. It is believed that the position of the stone is where he stood to throw his spear.
The stone is mostly noted for its ability to return to its original position when it is moved. It allegedly returned to its original position twice after it was moved to make space for road construction. Finally, the road had to be diverted to go around it. It is also believed to have the power to heal and to curse.
Even though some of these myths may sound farfetched, they are still held in very high regard in most Ghanaian communities today and continue to be a big part of their culture and heritage.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How did Asebu Amenfi die?
Answer: There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Asebu Amenfi's death. Like Okomfo Anokye, it was believed that Asebu Amenfi went out one day and never returned.
Okomfo Anokye and Asebu Amenfi were spiritual beings, and once their mission on earth was accomplished, they decided to return to their spiritual place of origin.
© 2016 Charles Nuamah
Elizabeth on July 23, 2020:
Ghana has a great, incredible and interesting history
Akua on August 04, 2019:
The descending golden stool is not a myth nor is it a legend It really happened and its prove is the un removable sword in Kumasi Okomfo Anokye planted.Why wasn't that mentioned here?
So Nice on July 22, 2019:
It really a history to all
SoxyOne on June 29, 2019:
Interesting, why didnt Okomfo Anokye and Asedu Amanfi defeat the colonial masters?
kritagya on May 08, 2019:
it is amazing
Selasie Alikor from PECULIAR INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL.Year on April 23, 2019:
This is very historical and engrossing story.
Tahiri on December 23, 2018:
This is very fascinating information
Mcwills Eugene on October 04, 2018:
This is an incredible historic information.
Nii Okai on March 18, 2018: