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Family and Kinship in West Africa (Ghana)


The Ghanaian culture consists of the series of marriages and kinships network. The family is perceived as a basic unit of the entire social life (Sooryamoorthy & Chetty 25). The family is also regarded as a major foundation of the societal security during old age; it provides financial and emotional support to the old folks. The collective group serves as the essential component of production and common means of social control. Marriage is the main reason for reproduction in the region and it is virtually universal. The paper discusses the detail dimension of a family as the basic unit of society in relation to West African cultures (Ghana).

Research Purpose

The social growth in African countries mainly revolves around the family life. The evaluation of societal set-up in Ghana gives a broader picture of the entire African perspective. It elaborates the contribution each of the social groups in the cultural development. The evaluation of  women  contribution forms part of the crucial analysis as they contribute immensely to the existence of family factor.

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The position of women in the Ghanaian society keeps changing following different circumstances. The social activities are normally in constant alterations; the social status, educational development, professional improvement, participation in the legal and political systems, and trends in fertility keeps changing and this introduces serious impacts on marriages (Alhassan 350). The trend also interferes with the worthiness of kinship. The transformation creates dilemmas as they degrade authentic norms and religious doctrines. The improvement of social class also limits the priorities of the potential members of society and entire inhabitants of the African community at large. It is, therefore, important to determine the basic principles of the available relationship and identify the possible outcome.

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Women have been undermined by the African cultures for many years. They are seen as the weak members of society and their responsibility is only to take care of their families. The introduction of women empowerment created a competitive approach to the role of women in the societal set-up. Today, it is against human self-respect to perceive or think in the direction of women inferiority. They have great responsibilities of bearing children and taking care of them from infancy to the time of education. They control families and ensure the morals uprightness among the children. The participation of women in the social-cultural development has diverted their attention from the family life.

Most African women who are famous in politics have varied problems in the family life. They are either divorced or are single mothers who perceive life as normal without existence of the family head (husband). The action goes against the societal norms as Ghanaian culture stresses on marriage as the source of family’s positive emotions and financial stability. Most women have gone beyond the borders to copy life of the West where freedom is the order of the day. Marriage is a temporary factor in these countries and divorce is legal and it is something that every family sees as normal. On the other hand, the contribution of female to the political development and social-economic improvement in Ghana cannot be undermined. They have continually contributed to the development of legal sectors, education and in the area of public service. The action reflects the responsibilities of women in  Africa at large. Many African countries have faced problems in the families as a result of participation in the cultural development.

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Education is one major factor that contributes to the economic development. The participation of women in this issue has been significant over the years. The education of women has significantly increased over the years and this has led to greater roles of women in the economic matters. The participation of women in high ranks positions has influenced marriages in Ghana (Oheneba-Sakyi 140). Most women cannot undertake the roles of family care and children lack moral uprightness in their social growth. The attention shift that comes as a result of high demands from the national responsibilities poses a great danger to the learning that children obtain from their parents, especially a mother.

The Bukh study in Ghana revealed that sixty-five percent of Ghanaian women are absolutely responsible for their children nutrition. The population of women in rural areas constitutes 58% and they form 40% of the families. Women occupy important positions as men in the industrial sectors; in the markets and subsistence businesses (“ Economics: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications 781). The assistance that women contribute to the economy is immense.  The situation creates a little time for women to participate in the family welfare leading to the collapse of many marriages. The ties in lineage usually define a broad range of behavior. The situation occurs from the point of marriage to the inheritance of properties. The studies reveal that the above ties normally weaken the basic social unit (family). In accordance with various research notes, the numerous ways in which family is perceived the family members do not always bring their resources together. Relatives often accept marriages where both wife and husband trigger a close relation because the practice positively influences loyalty.

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The African social set-up dictates that women should bear many children. Children are seen as the source of wealth and protection to the family (Buckley). They should also be led to adopt positive behaviors that conform to the norms of society. It is the role of women to ensure this need. The responsibilities that come with the involvement of women in the social cultural development trigger many family issues. They are at risks of going against the religious and traditional laws. The rate at which women give birth has reduced significantly because of the family planning. The introduction of Day Care programs has completely divided love of women and their children. The babies are left in the hands of the strangers in the name of job tasks and duties at stiff duties at work.

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Research Outcome

The outcome of the research indicates that the dynamic roles of women in society alter the norms and position of women in families. Both the traditional and religious laws are on the verge of disappearance due to negligence. The general perception of a family as the fundamental unit of the social set-up is also at the risk of collapse. The ever-changing responsibilities imposed on women will bring a great disaster that will cause the extinction of the African cultures at large.

The relationship in marriages is a strong ingredient that binds a family together. It imposes love to the family and also a total commitment to the members of society. The alternating roles of females lead them to the precious positions that give them full mandates to exercise their rights. The extension of these rights to the family level undermines respect to the societal sub unit.

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It is expected that changing role of females provides a predetermining influence on society in general as far as it alters marriage norms, fertility statistics and an overall understanding of a family and personal relationship.


The African cultures face significant threats due to the persistent change of women roles in society. Marriages and family life are on the verge of extinction due to the shift in social perception of family life. The study of Kinship and families in West Africa; Ghana, gives a broader picture of how African culture is affected by the significant alteration in the roles of females.

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