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Ghana: Shrouded Taboos Stripped Bare

Shell-locked, time-honored taboos in Ghana have oozed out of their crusty encasement to the commonplace, exerting the impact of a loose cannon. Once these taboos are no more shrouded in secrecy, they have become invisible influencers on the Ghanaian people, thanks to foreign culture and so-called modernity.

The social capsule which has proven most brittle is in the domain of electronic media advertisements. Here, the proliferated arena of herbal drugs has found a garnish in sweet words, and often local language is spoken, in which salespersons brandish these products claiming they have the potency to cure ailments in human reproductive systems. Desperate to reach the depths and to pull the unaffected to the market, the careless abandon ensues as they spew taboo words related to human reproductive organs, a new culture that is depicted with theatrics.

To get products off the shelf board, the amoral forces in the advertisement industry are regardless of cultural sensibilities and from their concept notes the performers go literal, creating a sensation about sex organs. The end result is the corruption of the minds, particularly that of children who have nothing to do with the products on sale. It could be likened to passive smokers of cigarettes. Age-old Ghanaian tradition frowned on explicit language in communication about human physiology. It was thought wise that if the youth are to shy away from the lure of sex, then they ought to know that it was a no-go area. This taboo restricted the youth from sex and abated sexually-related issues. If the likes of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS infections in the youth, and child prostitution were uncommon in the period heralding the 1990s, then it was the strict observance of the taboos amidst a strict enforcement regime.

Television, radio stations, and indeed the film industry has also been bathing in the same waters. Programs and movies that are labeled PG (Parental Guidance), might have late-hour scheduling but the children are aware and keep wide awake to catch these. Their pastime the telenovelas are dominated by romance, which provides the trailers for the explicit talk in adult programs. It has become almost the refrain for local movies to depict scenes that were hitherto taboo. Launched into sexual fantasies, the copycats stop at nothing to experiment, often leading to the staggering situation facing society today, about sex.

Impact of foreign culture.  Acculturation is one of several forms of cultural contact and has a couple of closely related terms, including assimilation and amalgamation. Although all three of these words refer to changes due to contact between different cultures, there are notable differences between them. Acculturation is often tied to political conquest or expansion and is applied to the process of change in beliefs or traditional practices that occurs when the cultural system of one group displaces that of another. Assimilation refers to the process through which individuals and groups of differing heritages acquire the basic habits, attitudes, and modes of life of an embracing culture. Amalgamation refers to a blending of cultures, rather than one group eliminating another (acculturation) or one group mixing itself into another (assimilation).

Alas, the influx comes as a wind that no physical barriers nor atavistic tendencies can contend with. By the click of a button on your device, you are already privy to contents that are uncensored.

Has the receiving end also considered a fight back with a wholesome culture that conditions its people to act in conformity with indigenous culture?

Puberty rites of Krobo people in Ghana instilled moral discipline


The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both the devotee of the prevailing culture and those who are assimilating into the culture. Political conquests are now interpreted to be neo-colonialism and the cultural interaction which takes place in international exchanges has also been subtle means of exporting other cultures, under the pretext of civilization. The very open society associated with democracy for instance is the smokescreen for the unleashing of profanity that is unAfrican and unGhanaian. However, the locale of those that are corrupted by these is the one that bears the brunt the most. Well, the consequences could be a boomerang anywhere.

Sex sells, a sales pitch slogan for the media and the arts industry which mirrors these at the expense of moral fiber. Cast as though it is slumbering,  there is a lot that the regulatory industry can do to salvage the situation. It is to take the country back to the basics which automatically formulates the system to correspond with edification.  The still higher authorities must stroke actionable areas for the pushback, wrought in local parlance as ”sankofa”, meaning going back to sociological roots.

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