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Libation ceremony at Agortime in the Volta Region
Libation ceremony at Agortime in the Volta Region
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Culture — Ghana’s trump card

When it comes to the segment of tourism that Ghana is positioned to excel in, culture easily comes to mind.

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From the coast to the savannah north, this product dominates our range of attractions.

Studies have also proven that culture is the forte of Ghana’s tourist destinations.

Essentially, when visitors are asked in a survey, they usually cite the diverse culture of various Ghanaian communities as their major motivation for coming.

In a very general term, culture is used to describe human behaviour patterns expressed at different levels of society.

This includes the person, family, clan, ethnic group and nation.

To break it down, at the very basic level, one person may create an unusual manner of speech, dressing, hairstyle, work technique, music-making or food processing.

Over time, this innovation may be adopted by a group and spread through the length and breadth of a country. 

For the tourist who is interested in buildings, the question which would drive them as they explore is why buildings in Ghanaian forestlands are different from those in Ghanaian savannah lands in the North.

The answers may be environmental.

However, the answer may also be borne out of shared cultural motivations held by the two respective communities. 

Culture is not all physical like we have just seen.

It can also be expressed in non-material aspects.

This includes proverbs, folklore, festivals, political ideas, and social customs related to birth, puberty, marriage, work and death.

Philosophical thought, cosmology, morals, ethics, beliefs and values also form part of the manifestations of culture.

And then, of course, there is music and dance.

 Funnily in Ghana when one mentions culture, traditional music and dance are what usually come to people’s mind.

 However, culture goes beyond adowa and agbadza.

It actually, also encompasses our modern ways of life. 

The National Commission on Culture defines Ghanaian culture as the totality of the way of life evolved by our people through experience and reflection in their attempts to fashion a harmonious co-existence between them and their environment, material and non-material.

This continuing process gives order and meaning to social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organisation which distinguish us from other people.

Thus, based on this definition, one can develop what is called a ‘Ghanaian culture.’

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This is what accounts for why a Ghanaian church service is conducted differently from a church service of the same denomination in Europe or America.

The force of national culture is also why a Ghanaian Muslim will celebrate Eid-Adha- differently from his Asian counterpart though they both belong to the same faith.

Culture allows us to function conveniently.

It is evolved for living. It is socially taught and learned. 

It develops as the human response to the local, physical and biological environment.

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 Cultural traditions look to the past for their mandate, authority and authenticity as society passes them on to generations.

One essential part of the story is that culture is dynamic and is often affected by local and external influences and stimuli.

Thus what is cultural within a specific space is only a matter of time.

 The implication is that there is also a lot of external borrowing and adaptation to a group culture.

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For example, in terms of dress style, wearing a smock over a shirt and tie is Ghanaian culture.

At this stage, let us tie in the issue of culture tourism which has been defined as 'the movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs'.

Also known as cultural tourism, this is the subset of tourism concerned with a country or region's culture, specifically the lifestyle of the people in specific geographical areas. It also includes the history of those people, their art, architecture, religion, etc.

Cultural tourism has been defined as 'the movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs'.

Cultural tourism includes tourism in urban areas, particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as museums and theatres.

 It can also include tourism in rural areas showcasing the traditions of indigenous cultural communities (i.e. festivals, rituals), and their values and lifestyle.

It is generally agreed that cultural tourists spend substantially more than standard tourists do.

This form of tourism is also becoming generally more popular throughout the world, and a recent OECD report has highlighted the role that cultural tourism can play in regional development in different areas of the world.

There is a good reason why cultural tourism is on the increase.

As the issue of globalisation takes place in this modern time, the whole world community is becoming smaller.

People thus become aware of the cultures of others.

More importantly, they become interested in these ways of life. 

Growth and development in mass media also push forward the agenda of cultural tourism.

Lifestyles of other people are made relevant to others more quickly and more convincingly.  

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