The Akans customary marriage has strict policies and regulations that the couple-to-be and their families must respect. It is taboo for the parties preparing an Akans traditional marriage to ignore the Ghanaian engagement list. The Akan list for engagement comprises items that a man must give the bride's family before the marriage ceremony takes place.
Ghanaian law recognizes three types of marriages, customary (traditional), Islamic (religious), and ordinance (civil) union. The 1985 Customary Marriage and Divorce Law legalizes the Akans' customary marriage. However, conservative Akan couples perform Ghanian traditional marriage rites called awareɛ followed by civil or religious marriages.
List for Ghanaian engagement items
Items needed for the knocking ceremony in Ghana depend on the tribe's customs and what the bride's parents/family wants. Akans have several subtribes like the Agona, Ashanti, and Bono, and each subtribe conforms to specific items for engagement. Below are essential items that should not miss on the Ghanaian engagement list:
- The dowry/ bride price.
- Head drinks, usually a Gin, whiskey, palm wine or wine.
- A minimum of 6 pieces of traditional wax print and exotic jewellery for the bride.
- A suitcase packed with more clothes, shoes, and other female items the lady requests.
- Money, Ankara male clothes, and a bottle of whiskey for the bride's father.
- Money, African print clothes, and a pair of sandals for the lady's mother.
- Money for the bride to invest in a business.
- An engagement ring.
- An engagement Bible.
- Akontasekan (money) for the bride's brothers or male cousins if she is the only daughter.
- Cooking utensils for the bride to use in her new home.
- Enough food and drinks for the wedding guests.
A sample of the Ghanaian engagement list
There are similarities in the Ashanti and Akan lists for Ghanaian engagement items. Here is a sample of an engagement list in Ghana.
Knocking and dowry items
- Knocking fee - GH₵300
- Acceptance fee - GH₵200
- Bride price - GH₵600
- 5 crates of mineral water
- 2 bottles of Whiskey
- 3 crates of beer
- 2 bottles of Schnapps
- 4 bottles of Champagne
Items for the bride's family
- A full piece of Ankara garment with GH₵500 (as a token) for the father-in-law.
- A half piece of Ankara fabric with GH₵300 (as a token) for the mother-in-law.
- GH₵250 toke for the brother-in-law.
The Bride's items
- Engagement ring
- A set of jewellery
- 6 pieces of Ankara clothes
- A set of undergarments
- 6 pieces of braziers
- 4 pairs of shoes (black and white)
- A pair of sandals
- 2 lady’s bag
- 2 nightgowns
- A suitcase
- A set of cooking utensils
- GH₵ 200 for thanksgiving
Akans traditional marriage in Ghana
The Akan marriage system matches the marital practices of many communities in Africa. Most items on the marriage list in Ghana for Akans are similar to what many West African communities expect a man to offer to the bride's family. A man interested in marrying an Akan woman follows several procedures.
1. Initiating marriage discussions
A man first informs his family about his plans to marry an Akan woman. His family will send a messenger to the lady's family to request a meeting.
The lady's family takes time to investigate the groom's family. They will look for genetic disabilities, chronic illness, criminal records, etc.
If they are satisfied with the reputation of the man's family and other things they need to know, the woman's father sends a messenger to the man's home to inform them the meeting date.
The families meet at the woman's paternal home to discuss their children's marital union. Both families will then choose a date for the kɔkɔɔ kɔ ceremony, which is also called the knocking ceremony.
2. Conducting a knocking ceremony
A knocking ceremony in Ghana is about the groom's family knocking on the door of the bride's family home before entering the house. It is an essential phase of the traditional Akan marriage process.
The man's parents or senior uncles accompany him to the bride's home. They represent his entire extended Akan family at the occasion and express their son's intention to marry the lady.
Back in the day, a knocking ceremony in Ghana would happen a week or two before the wedding date. Today, both events take place on the same day.
The man's people visit the lady's family with items needed for the knocking ceremony in Ghana. They include:
- Two bottles of wine
- Kola nuts
The man's Akan family offers the lady's family tiri nsa (head drinks). Traditionally, head drinks were two bottles of palm wine, but men can bring Schnapps or whiskey nowadays. Others top up money and more gifts.
Some families seek the lady's opinion before taking the gifts and drinks. Once the woman's Akan family accepts gifts, they have formally consented to the marriage.
The families fix the wedding date, and the bride's family presents the engagement list items to the groom's family on the same day they perform the knocking ceremony.
Both families can discreetly consult each other and review the marriage list. Traditionally, families chose husbands for their daughters, and the bride had so say on the Akan marriage list items.
Today's women choose their spouses and can check the Ghanaian engagement list items to ensure their families do not make unnecessary demands.
A bride can request or advise their parents to request items the groom can afford. The man's family returns home with the Akan engagement list to start the wedding ceremony preparations.
3. The customary marriage ceremony
The groom's family then presents the dowry and other items on the engagement list. Depending on what both families agreed on during the knocking ceremony, the man can pay the dowry in full (before the wedding) or in instalments (after the wedding).
The man's family then presents the dowry and other items on the engagement list. The man pays dowry in full (before the wedding) or in installments (after the wedding), depending on what both families agreed on during the knocking ceremony.
If both families are satisfied with the items, the lady is given local brew in a glass and requested to identify her spouse (he sits with his family). After she locates and serves him the drink, the elders pray for the couple.
The guest and hosts can then dance and feast for the rest of the day. The Akans engagement ceremony is also the wedding. Couples can have a religious wedding (Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, etc.) after the custom marriage ceremony.
Is there a bride price in Ghana?
Dowry is vital for traditional marriage in Ghana. Most tribes in Ghana, including the Akan, uphold this custom. The bride price, engagement, and knocking ceremony items are meant to bond and create mutual respect between the bride and groom's families.
Who pays the bride price in Ghana?
The groom pays dowry to the bride's parents.
What are the items needed for engagement in Ghana?
The Akan list for Ghanaian engagement items are:
- Cooking utensils, Ankara attires, jewellery, a suitcase, shoes, and other items the bride requests.
- Money for the bride to invest in a business.
- Money, Ankara clothes, whiskey, and sandals for the bride's parents.
- The dowry.
- Head drinks (wine, whiskey, or gin).
- An engagement ring and Bible.
- Money for the bride's brothers or male cousins.
- Food and drinks for the wedding guests.
What does knocking mean in Ghana?
It is a ceremonious event where the groom knocks on the bride's family home for the first time before he is allowed to enter.
What to expect for a Ghanaian knocking?
The man's family presents gifts, money, and other valuable materials to the woman's family to officially make them know he intends to marry their daughter.
What items are needed for knocking ceremony in Ghana?
The groom brings two bottles of wine, kola nuts, and money to the bride's family during the knocking ceremony.
Who takes the bride price in Ghana?
The groom's family presents the dowry to the bride's parents. However, the dowry is an extended Akan family affair. The parents share it with specific extended family members like the lady's uncles.
How is engagement done in Ghana?
The bride and groom's family meet at the the bride's home. The groom presents the dowry and other items on the engagement list. After that, the bride serves the groom a cup of local brew. The elders pray for the couples before feasting begins.
Ghanaian engagement list for Akans traditional marriage can be financially overwhelming to the groom and his family, but for a good reason. The bride's family requests these things to ensure the man is mature and financially stable enough to care of their daughter and future children.
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