Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dipo Ceremony of the Krobo tribe of Ghana

Dipo Ceremony of the Krobo tribe of Ghana

People of the Krobo Tribe, living mainly in the Republic of Ghana in Western Africa, are among the oldest and most famous makers of ground glass beads in Africa. The beads known as Akori or Aggrey are made locally and others are imported from Italy or The Netherlands.

The Dipo Ceremony is celebrated to announce the transformation of girls into womanhood by performing a series of rituals known as Dipo practiced since the eleventh century.

To begin with each girl enters a ritual house, throws away her old clothing of childhood and dresses in new clothes allowed for the ceremony. The next morning they shave their heads, and carry their calabashes to the river for a ritual bathing to cleanse their bodies and spirits. Then the girls are fed a ritual feast prepared by their mothers.

The climax of the Dipo initiation ceremony is called the blessing of Tekpete, a legendary sacred stone which the Krobo people carried down from Krobo Mountain when the British colonial rulers displaced them in the nineteenth century from their ancestral homeland.

The girls are splashed with lime water (Calcium Hydroxide – CaOH dissolved in water) to ward off evil spirits. Then they are carried by their fathers or other relatives after they sit on the sacred stone of virginity. During this test of virginity, if a girl is found not a virgin or found pregnant she will be excommunicated, and no man of Krobo tribe will marry her.

Now the girls are ready for the Outdooring Ceremony during which they will be presented to the community and potential suitors. By the final week of Dipo the girls are trained in dance, music and the subtleties of seduction and special techniques of making love.

The Republic of Ghana is located in West Africa, bordered by Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Burkina Faso, Togo, and it has the Gulf of Guinea in the south. Ghana has a population of 24 million people belonging to over 60 ethnic groups/tribes, speaking fifty two major languages and hundreds of dialects, with English as the official language. Ghana has rich traditional cultures, rituals and ceremonies that differ from one ethnic group to the other.

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