Art and Funeral Ceremonies in Kumasi

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The need for the re-examination of funeral practices and the use of funerary arts in Kumasi so as to appreciate, in a more beneficial manner, the role art plays in the funeral ceremonies of Kumasi cannot be over-emphasised. The rate at which many of the traditional practices are responding to the various forces of change under the impact of modernity has become a source of worry to traditional rulers, religious leaders, opinion leaders as well as well-meaning members of society in recent times. Change is a welcome phenomenon only if it is not to the detriment of indigenous culture. Much as one appreciates the fact that there is no unadulterated culture, every group of people has what identifies them as a unique people. Every effort should therefore be made to provide a cultural blend that will benefit society. Naturally, in an attempt to satisfy dead relatives and the community at large, the use of most indigenous funerary arts of Kumasi has been widened to the extent that relatives are unwittingly burdened economically after funeral ceremonies, thereby aggravating their already impoverished situations. It is believed that the situation is the result of acculturation which has been brought about by colonisation, westernisation and the influence of foreign religions which together have created certain problems including disregard for certain traditional funeral practices and their related art forms which identify Ghanaians as a unique people. The ‘wholesale’ substitution of indigenous funeral practices with foreign ones has brought about expensive funeral ceremonies in Kumasi. This sometimes attracts the intervention of the Asantehene, (The Ashanti King) }tumfo] Osei Tutu II, calling for the termination of extravagance in this regard. The solution to this challenge requires the practical involvement of all traditional authorities, the churches, institutions and ordinary folks. However, one must be quick to add that this seeming change has brought magnificent and dynamic aesthetic dimensions in Kumasi funerary arts. This research seeks to unearth the neglected funeral practices and the resultant relegated funerary arts, and to analyse, synthesise and evaluate their meanings in an effort to recommend suitable substitutes to reflect the true cultural identity of Asante as well as to cut down excessive funeral expenditure. The researcher used both the Qualitative and Descriptive Research Approaches in the study. The thesis comprises five chapters. The first chapter deals with the introduction, the second chapter reviews some literature related and relevant to the study. The third chapter consists of methodology and the forth chapter covers the extent of acculturation with respect to Asante funerary arts. The final chapter deals with conclusion and recommendations. The researcher basically employed both the Qualitative and the Descriptive Research Approaches. The people of Kumasi must be circumspect in their funeral ceremonies while at the same time not compromising the beneficial indigenous Asante funerary arts. The Kumasi Traditional Council, the Centre for National Culture, Kumasi, in collaboration with the ministries of Tourism and; and Chieftaincy and Culture should put innovative measures in place so as to make funeral ceremonies in Kumasi development friendly. The thesis will be if immense benefit to tourists, anthropologists, the Kumasi Traditional Council, the ministries of Tourism and Chieftaincy and Culture, and specifically the people of Kumasi
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 Arts in African Art and Culture