A discourse on cultural elements in “Akan” films

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July, 2015
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Filmic representations of indigenous people and their knowledge is a starting point to free cultural meanings that objectify the indigenous people as commodities of a global culture. Nevertheless, African films remain “foreigners in their own countries” where the makers of these popular movies have never been principally concerned with authenticity, cultural revival, and or the preservation of their culture. These phenomena have been accused of lowering the image of Africa and the Africans in general through their low quality productions. Thus, based on qualitative research approach, six Akan films, three of which were selected from the 2012/2013 Kumawood Akobeng Awards, and three others sampled from the wider patronage and popular Akan movies to undertake an analysis of cultural elements in Akan films in Ghana. The study sought to ascertain how the Akan films incorporated Akan proverbs; Ghanaian culture and moral conducts; foreign cultural elements and whether Akan films present distortions on Akan culture or not. The selected video films were watched twice by study panel that were knowledgeable in filmmaking and the Akan culture in accordance with a designed film observation guide, which were then transcribed. The results obtained after the content analysis of the data indicated that, Akan films are enriched in diverse Akan proverbs used for ensuring the inculcation of moral conducts, welfare, and acquisition of wisdom; manifestations of the rich traditional Akan kings dress code and adornments; showcasing of Akan traditional festivals, folksongs, drumming and dancing, games; as well as sense of communal welfare, hospitality and traditional courtesies. Nevertheless, witchcraft and fetishism were overused to subjugate enemies. Moreover, there were the inclusion of Western cultural elements regarding banquet-like hall decorations and Hip pop and Nigerian Music, men in ear rings; women in mini-skirts and anklets. Additionally, the Akan films according to the study obviously depicted distortions of traditional chieftaincy and political customs, hospitality ethics and the use of proverbs. The use of witchcraft and fetishism misinform foreign audience about the true identity and rich culture of Akans, and Africans in general. The results have implications on the “Akan” films in its attempts to present cultural meanings in Ghanaian films. As such, “Akan” films will have to sufficiently capture the national values of respect for humanity, justice and reduce the reoccurrences of witchcraft and occultism; vulgar words, insults, profanity and the like; and should be able to domesticate the love and romance components to suit the Akan socio-cultural context to achieve high artistic standards.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (African Art and Culture),