Culture is dynamic as it changes to suit and reflect the demands of a particular era. Before modernisation and globalisation, there were some objects that were distinct and peculiar to the Ghanaian people. Although, modern technology has rendered some of these objects redundant by replacing them with more efficient gadgets, let’s take a jog down memory lane to these five things that used to characterise Ghanaian homes.
1. The Tripod Stove
Locally known as “Mukyea”, these traditional stoves can be credited with centuries of traditional Ghanaian cooking. The clay stoves were made of 3 large stones covered with clay and positioned in a way that, one stone was ahead while the remaining two were placed side by side, the clay stoves used firewood as a source of fuel. The cook in the home, usually mothers or female offspring were required to fan the fire to produce enough heat to cook the meal. The fanning usually produced smoke that stung and reddened the eyes of the cook. In modern times, these stoves have been replaced with gas and electronic cookers which have simplified the cooking process in modern Ghanaian homes.
2. Box Iron
Most students in the late 1980’s and 90’s might have some very fond memories of this one. The box iron is a steel device that opens at the top and is filled with hot/lighted charcoal. The lighted coal then heats up the iron which then straightens the material it’s passed over. The ironing could go terribly wrong if the box iron isn’t properly closed as it would lead to hot coals raining on the material to be ironed. The heavy iron required considerable effort to operate and most people breathed a sigh of relief when the electric iron made its way to the Ghanaian scene. Due to their cumbersome nature, they are no longer found in most Ghanaian homes. However, during the “Dumsor” (Ghana’s electricity crisis) days, some people longed for the long-rejected box iron.
3. The Raffia Mat
Before foam mattresses became the order of the day, the raffia mat was king. Made out of thatch or straw, it was a popular sleep companion for most Ghanaians. This mat was very portable and ideal for sleeping on no matter the time of the day since all that was required was to roll it out wherever one wanted to sleep. Today, modern Ghanaian homes have hammocks for relaxing and enjoying fresh air as well as different types of mattresses in the bedrooms. The raffia mats were lean and almost bare. Hence, their modern replacements are certainly a much more comfortable option.
4. Large Clay Pots
Often known as “coolers”, these large pots were primarily used to store drinking water. They were made of clay and usually had clay lids. They were filled with drinking water and placed in the corner of rooms and it is believed that the clay used in making the pot cooled the water. It also served as a water purifier since impure materials settled at the base of the pots. Before the days of refrigerators and water dispensers, these coolers were the lifesavers in this hot tropical climate.
5. Earthenware Bowls (Asanka)
This is one Ghanaian home accessory that has stood the test of time. Its use has evolved over time and has remained relevant. Traditionally, the “Asanka” comes with its counterpart known as the “tapoli”. The tapoli is a wooden, hourglass-shaped, two-sided kitchen hand pestle. The “Asanka” and the grinding stone served as blenders in the old days. Although the blending functions of this tool have been replaced by the fast, convenient and effortless blender, the versatile “Asanka” still finds a way to be useful. It is very popular at “Chop Bars” or local eateries and is used for serving traditional dishes such as fufu and soup. Also, it makes the best pepper for kenkey at home. Large ceramic bowls could be used as a replacement for the “Asanka”. However, the dark earthenware bowl is still quite the popular option.
If you are already feeling nostalgic and missing the good old days, it’s never too late to add a traditional Ghanaian touch to your home. You could add Ghanaian sculpture, paintings and other distinct artefacts that reflect your taste in your home decor. This way, your rooms reflect your Ghanaian identity or affinity and refreshingly say “Akwaaba/Amaraaba/Woezor” to your visitors.