The cultural interpretation of body marks among selected Dangme groups in Ghana

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June, 2015
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Body marks is both an elusive and a sensitive issue. Most people do not want to associate themselves with bearers of body marks and this has attached a sense of stigmatization to the issue of body marks as it is vivid that there is the lack of understanding of the cultural basis behind the making of these marks. There is therefore the need for exploration into the issue to understand the reasons for making body marks and to understand the cultural ramifications of these marks. Most literature available focuses on body marks in countries like Nigeria, Sudan and Benin. Ghana is a country that also has body marks among various cultures and ethnic groups yet; the cultural and educational undertones of these marks have not been explored in certain parts of the country. This study was therefore conducted to find out the various types of body marks present among some ethnic groups in Ghana and to understand the cultural interpretations of the marks. Three ethnic groups from the Ga-Dangme tribe were selected for the study and these are Ningo, Prampram and Ada. Data were collected from the three Dangme groups based on the understanding of body marks according to the culture of the Dangmes. The qualitative research method was used, with interviews and observations being the main forms of data collection instruments. Out of the overall accessible population of 90 respondents, a sample size of 60 was purposively selected based on the information provided about body marks. The results of the study showed different body marks that are made for different cultural reasons. The cultural interpretations were discussed based on religious, political, medical, social and educational interpretations. It is recommended that various reasons for pursuing body marks be brought to light by further research in order to weave members of different tribes as one to help bring unity among Ghanaians through culture.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in African Art and Culture, 2015