Ghana like most other African nations has rich traditional cultures that differ from one ethnic group or tribe to the other. Century old traditions of the people of Ghana, coupled with the diversity distinct ethnic groups, have created a rich culture that is the splendid legacy of modern Ghana. To the people of Ghana, the traditions of their ancestors are still an important part of daily life. Traditional leaders have historical authority over tribal and family matters, and customary lands are an important heritage.
Important events in life are marked by special rites and rituals. Child naming, puberty initiations, marriage and death are marked by family ceremonies, while seasonal festivals bring a whole people or clan together in spectacular fashion.
Many festivals include thrilling durbars of chief, when tribal leaders and Queen Mothers process in decorated palanquins, shaded by traditional umbrellas, and supported by drummers and warriors discharging ancient muskets.
A careful study of Ghanaian festivals reveal some common features and beliefs. The first and foremost is the belief in life after death and in the nearness of dead ancestors to their living descendants. Some of the major festivals are the Odwira, celebrated by the Akan people of Akwapim, Akwamu, Denkyira and Akyem; the Yam Festival, celebrated by the Akan people of Aburi-Akwapim and several Ewe groups of the Volta Region; the Aboakyir festival of the Effutus of Winneba; the Akwambo festival, celebrated by the Fantes of Agona and Gomoa; the Hobgetsotso festival of the Ewe people of Anlo; the Homowo festival, celebrated by the Gas of Greater Accra; the Damba festival of the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana; the Bakatue festival, celebrated by the people of Elmina; the Nmayem festival of the people of Odumasi-Krobo; the Asafotufiam festival f the people of Ada and the Adae and Akwasidae festivals of the people of Asante.
In Ashanti, the Adae and Akwasidae festivals vividly bring the splendour of the Asante kingdom to life, when the Asantehene (King), adorned in all his gold regalia, comes out to receive the homage of his people. The Asantehene's dancers, praise-singers and horn blowers surround the King and his procession in never-to-be-forgotten spectacle.
A cultural tourism programme called The Slave Route has been initiated by African countries and UNESCO to rehabilitate, restore and promote the heritage handed down by the slave trade. Countries all over Africa are conserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period in order that today's tourist can appreciate the dark impact of this era.
As part of preserving Ghana's heritage, several museums have been opened besides the Ghana National Museum. The latter nevertheless remains the most significant effort in the field. The museum started in the Archaeology Department of the University College of the Gold Coast. Subsequently, a permanent home for it was found in Accra where the collections were brought. There remains however, at the Archaeology Department, a small museum which is worth visiting because of the unique collection based on the activities of the university's archaeology staff.
The National Museum and National Archives
Located on Barnes Road, this fine museum houses a fascinating collection of Ghana’s historical treasures. The exhibits housed under the two-tiered rotounda of the museum comprise much more than Ghanaian Culture alone, and include a collection of the neighbouring West African countries as well as an archaeological department located in a hall ont he first floor.
On of the museum's ground-floor wings is devoted to temporary exhibitions which can range from contemporary dyed fabrics to traditional and eve sacred artifacts such as the celebrated Ashanti ancestor stools.
Other interesting exhibits in the ground-floor rooms include richly decorated Asahnti gold-weighted scales adorned with finely-rendered symbolic images illustrative of traditional proverbs.
The walls of these exhibition hassls are lined with examples of traditional Ghanaian garments known as Kente, each of whose symbolic woven desins has its own special meaning, and certain of which are reserved for chiefs or dignitaries.
Center for National Culture - Accra
Presents traditional handicrafts in various forms from all over Ghana; it includes workshops and art galleries. There is an arts and crafts bazaar and a traditional textile market with souvenirs that have been crafted in clay, wood, leather and metal. There is also indoor market with stalls footwear, tee shirts and souvenirs
Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (KNMP) is a National Park in, Accra, Ghana named after Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the ‘’founding father’’ of Ghana.
Dr. Nkrumah gained independence from the British, then a colonial authority over what was known as The Gold Coast, on March 6, 1957. He became the first Prime Minister from that date to June 30, 1960. He led Ghana into a Republican status on July 1, 1966 and became the first President of the Republic of Ghana. On February 24, 1966 his government was over thrown in a Military coup d’etat and was ousted from power.
This Park is located in the main commercial area in Accra on The High Street, a colonial legacy, where the Banks of Ghana are sited. The Park has a surface area of 5.4 acres and it is directly opposite Old Parliament House (now Offices of Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which is also a colonial legacy. It is bounded on the east by The Centre for National Culture, Greater Accra Region and a vibrant craft centre and in the west by former Accra Community Centre, now some offices of Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
The venue for many national celebrations, dominated by the independence arch and the memorial to Unknown Soldier.
The largest national spectacle and display of colour takes place in Black Star Square on Independence Day. Each government service is represented in full ceremonial dress: the army, navy, air force, police, firemen, special presidential forces and a selection of schools and colleges parade in front of the president and invited world leaders as well as 30,000 spectators. This is accompanied by music provided by the military mass band, cultural dancers and school children from the region paying homage to the president and invited dignitaries.
The National Theatre
The National Theater was built by a Chinese contractor as part of an effort to increase patronage of the performing arts in Ghana.
It houses the National Orchestra which plays using traditional instruments.