What is ancestral worship? With practical illustrations discuss any THREE
(3) ways in which the beliefs in ancestors serve as a social control mechanism
in traditional Ghanaian societies.
Social Significance of Ancestral Worship in Ghana
Ancestral worship refers to a religious practice based on the belief that the dead people have control over the life of the living. It is a traditional based belief, and it follows that the spirits of the departed souls will take care of the living families, look after their affairs and reflect how their future life will look like. Like in many other African countries, Ghanaians had a belief in these ancestral spirits who controlled their lives. In Ghana, there is a particular group of people called the Akan-speaking group. Apart from this speaking group, there was the Afante group, not forgetting to mention the Akwapim. The above speaking groups believed in their gods like any other community. Drawing our attention to the Asante community of Akan speaking group in Ghana, we can witness how ancestral relationship is tied to the community's social welfare. This community believed in ancestral spirits who in their lives brought a lot of significance. There is various social significance that belief in traditional worship is tied to, which include the following:
· Promoting the social relationship among the members of the community
· Developing educational and cultural life in the community
· Influencing social-economical life among the members of the community
· Maintaining kinship ties
Worshipping ancestral spirits among Asante had control of their social life in the following ways;
1.Preventing erosion of their culture.
This role was played by the maintenance of kinship ties in the community and ensuring that the community was united together. Asante people-centered their positions of leadership in kinship. Kinship refers to a biological factor that is mainly achieved through birth. Kinship controls the social relations of people in any given society. The relatives were directly involved in talks with the ancestors, and they were the ones who told them what to do and what they hated. This helped the community to be cohesive and avoid splitting. By maintaining kinship, people live together and share, and it is scarce for any group to deviate from the traditional way of life of the community. Any violation of the kinship relations results in punishment and may lead to one being cursed. Therefore it is a significant influence of the social life of Asante (Murray & Agyare, 2018).
2.Development of educational and cultural life
In the Asante community, education was not well developed, but a significant reliance on ancestral worship was a substantial boost to Ghanaians' growth. Religious beliefs taught the community how to live with each other, praise and worship their gods and maintain a moral style of life. The teachings of relatives about their cultural and religious life enhanced their educational status because the young could copy good morals taught by the relatives and other elders in their community. Education achieved in the community helped people learn the wrongdoing and rights, evading bad social influence (Awubomu et al.,2018).
3.Promoting the socio-economic status
The people of Ghana had their socio-economic life transformed by ancestral worship. Promoting the socio-economic status was a control mechanism of social life since those who went to urban centers had to go back home for their usual chores. Going back to the community enabled the Asante people to maintain their relations and not forget their social functions(Benson,2021).
Believing in one religious practice is a good practice by any person as it helps the people to maintain their social significance of life. For example, Asante of Ghana powerfully demonstrates that their social life is under the control of the ancestral spirits.
Benson, G. (2021). African Traditional Religion And Natural Resource Management: The Role Of Totems And Deity Worship In Ghana. American Journal of Environment Studies, 4(1), 13-37.
Murray, G., & Agyare, A. (2018). Religion and perceptions of community-based conservation in Ghana, West Africa. PloS one, 13(4), e0195498.
Awubomu, R., & Ntewusu, S. A(2018). Ritual Festival, Social Cohesion, and Change among Nawuris of Northern Ghana,49.