Post by daphne on Jun 11, 2014 0:23:43 GMT -6
Are there specific local customs and lifestyle requirements that should be accommodated?
What is a typical family unit composed of? Three or more generations, a nucleus family, generally how many children?
Kitchen: is there any use of open flame or is it typically a modern kitchen with running water a regular stove and a refrigerator?
Are there typically worship spaces in the private homes? If so what do they consist of?
Are all family members away from the structure for most of the day? Or do people have businesses they run from the family house/compound?
Any insight and guidance into the daily lives of the residents would be greatly appreciated.
Post by Nka on Jul 4, 2014 10:57:44 GMT -6
ON DAPHNE'S QUESTIONS
Daphne, thank you for your questions. I think that it is best that you name the client for your design entry. Are you designing for a civil servant such as a school teacher, an office worker, or a trader, an arts/design practitioner, etc. Then design the house with the client and Ashanti architecture traditions in mind. For example, a school teacher would have a bachelor’s degree, so would be receptive to more contemporary design features. A trader may be a high school graduate or 6th grade graduate and is most likely to gravitate toward the traditional architecture.
Daphne, you asked: (1) “What is a typical family unit composed of? Three or more generations, a nucleus family, generally how many children?” As noted, a typical family in the Ashanti area has 2+ children and one or two members of extended family in one housing unit. The proposed single-family unit of about 30 x 40 feet on a plot of 60 x 60 feet would be for a family size of 5 to 7 persons.
(2) “Kitchen: is there any use of open flame or is it typically a modern kitchen with running water a regular stove and a refrigerator?” Some families use gas stove, some use modified wood stoves, and others use the open flame type.
(3) “Are all family members away from the structure for most of the day? Or do people have businesses they run from the family house/compound?” The wife may have a business she runs from the family house. Here are examples:
In Ashanti, as in much of Ghana, the village is a social as well as an economic heart of society. Everyone is expected to participate in the major ceremonies. The most popular ceremonies are funeral celebrations which typically last several days. The extended family - no matter where they live - will travel home to attend a funeral. The entire village/town and the inhabitants of its environs will also come to pay their last respects. Thus, the funeral expenses can be a huge burden on the family. Having gathered family and friends from far and wide, many often take the opportunity to conduct business or land transactions at funerals.
Small-Scale Food BusinessSmall-Scale Food Business
A typical Petty Trader's Kiosk (a small trading kiosk that sells beauty products and basic household commodities, including preserved food items.
CULTURE OF THE ASHANTI PEOPLE
In each village there are people of particular importance. The Chief together with the Elders maintains traditional customs and ceremonies and deals with disputes. The traditional priest and the herbalist provide a medical service which can be partly paid for in local produce (a hen, eggs etc.) as opposed to Western medicine which requires cash payment, and usually a considerable journey to the nearest hospital. The priest, when possessed by the gods, is particularly powerful at dealing with spiritual problems. The herbalist relies on local medicines to effect a cure. Many of these cures are now being investigated by research institutes both in Ghana and elsewhere as alternative remedies for many ailments, including Malaria. The linguist has no corresponding role in western society. A man wishing to consult the fetish priest or the Chief addresses his remarks to the Linguist, who then passes them on and returns the reply (even though all three people are present together). The linguist is an intermediary, acting as a buffer to reduce the severity of utterances and so save delicate situations. If the Chief should make a harsh pronouncement, it is the duty of the linguist to paraphrase and clothe the statement in proverbs.
The Ashanti Family unit
As in most developing countries, there is a strong extended family system. Poorer members may seek financial assistance from their better off relatives for school fees, medical expenses etc. But visitors are always welcomed, even if their arrival may be a cause of financial concern. In Asante, the family line is matralineal - in that it passes through the mother to her children. A man is strongly related to his mother's brother but only weakly related to his father's brother. This must be viewed in the context of a polygamous society in which the mother/child bond is likely to be much stronger than the father/child bond. As a result, in inheritance, a man's nephew (sister's son) will have priority over his own son. Uncle-nephew relationships therefore assume a dominant position. (Legislation was introduced in 1984 to change this traditional pattern of inheritance.)
The official language is English but this is not spoken by many villagers. The Asante are part of the Akan tribes who speak various dialects of Twi. The language is very rich in proverbs, the use of which is taken to be a sign of wisdom. Euphemisms are very common, especially about events connected with death. Rather than say "the King has died", one would say "a mighty tree has fallen". Proverbs are often used to express ideas indirectly as can be seen from the following: "Obi mfa ne nsa benkum nkyere n'agya amanfo" - this is literally "Do not point to the ruins of your father's house with your left hand" - which is equivalent to "Do not scorn culture inherited from your forefathers".
There is a universal God (Onyame) but this does not exclude gods associated with a particular region or spirits (obosum) by whom a priest may be possessed. (This lack of exclusiveness makes it possible, say, for a traditional priest to be a Roman Catholic). But there is no doubt of the existence of the Kingdom of the Dead(Samanade) so custom requires that great attention is paid to the proper conduct of burials and funeral celebrations. Death is the one great certainty. Traditional religion does not require regular attendance at particular buildings. Religion is not something that is remembered for one hour a week. The Gods and the spirits of the ancestors are always present.
- Culled from AGC
The Ashanti Way of Life
(An Excerpt from "Family Life Among the Ashanti of West Africa" by
The Ashanti king was no figure-head ruler. All power was given to him. He was the maker of all executive decisions and the power behind all Ashanti laws. He was chief justice, and commander in chief of the Ashanti army. In order to choose a new chief, those who were eligible through the Queen Mother's relatives were assembled, and the clan leaders voted on a successor, chosen on the basis of qualifications of leadership and political ability.
The inheritance rights of the Ashanti pass through the mother's side of the family. Land belongs to the woman, not the man. Children belong legally to the mother, since they belong to the mother's clan, called the matriclan. When a man marries a woman he agrees that he will take responsibilities if there by any, but her assets and property should return to the matriclan. (Tufuo, p. 44) The woman also recognizes her dependence on her husband for protection, and his right, while he lives, to claim what is hers. There is an Ashanti adage which refers to possession of property: if a woman weaves a shield, she stores it in a man's room. (Tufuo, p. 45)
There are strict rules about marriage partners. A person cannot marry within his or her matriclan. Parents must approve of the mate a young man or woman chooses, and the girl is expected to be married soon after her coming of age (Puberty) ceremony, in which she is officially displayed as eligible to the rest of the village. A man is allowed to marry several wives, as long as he can adequately provide for them; this demonstrates his wealth and generosity. Also, among the Ashanti there are fewer men than women, so that polygamy helps to assure that all women will become married, with children, the fulfillment of an Ashanti woman's goal of success.
When a baby is born, whether it is male or female, there is great rejoicing among the clan. A few days after the baby is born, the mother carries the baby around the village on her back. The people of the village give gifts and money; they wish the mother congratulations and the baby a long life. A special drink ceremony is held to create the voice and imbue him (or her) with wisdom and intelligence, so that the baby will resemble "a true Ashanti". (Tufuo, p. 54)
Everyone joins in the child's training as the child begins to walk and talk. Aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters are always there to encourage and instruct the baby in Ashanti ways. The child is never alone and knows he will always belong to the people of his family and community.
The child has a great deal of freedom at home, with parents seeking to guide rather than discipline the child. Children are reasoned with and parents tend to be very patient, even indulgent with their young ones. The home is where customs and traditions are learned and practiced, stories told, and the past relived. Home is a secure place, where everyone is accepted and respected, where values and attitudes are molded. If a child misbehaves, it is considered the parents' fault, and a shame and an embarrassment to them. In court, it is Ashanti custom to penalize parents equally for serious crimes committed by their children. The Ashanti believe that "parents are responsible for the training of their children and if they were trained well they would have behaved well". (Tufuo, p. 35)
Boys are trained by the fathers to be farmers. From the time they are old enough to walk, they are taken out into the fields to help to weed the garden and learn the names of the plants. Later, they are taught to hunt and fish, and learn the ways of the forest. When young, boys and girls play together, but girls are discouraged from playing rougher games and sports. Fathers have regular story times for sons and daughters each afternoon. Girls spend most of their time with their mothers and other women, learning to carry water, prepare meals, keep a clean house, and, in general, take on domestic responsibility. They sing while preparing bath water and helping to prepare the evening meal which is shared by many relatives. They are expected to become active in the community social life and to join a dance group or a musical society. Mothers carefully instruct their daughters how to use special herbs and spices which keep the body smelling clean.
The men eat a communal dinner together. The wives take the food to the father-in-law's house for the men, who eat out of a common dish. Boys can dip their hands in too, as soon as they are old enough to wash their own hands; until then they eat with the women. Unmarried men go to their uncle's house to eat, where all the cousins and nephews gather. Women in the same house eat together, but not from the same dish. Women who are having their menstrual period eat separately from all the others because they are believed to be unclean until their period is over.
Each day at dusk, it is time for stories, games, dancing and singing. Everyone is in bed by ten o'clock because work begins the next morning before sunrise!
When a girl has her first period, it is cause for celebration. The old women of the village sing special songs commemorating the occasion, and the girl's mother pours wine and says a special prayer. The next day the girl's body is shaved and she is dressed in a special dress and adorned with gold necklaces, hair ornaments and leg and ankle beads. Young girls sing songs to her, and friends and relatives give presents. She is given a special bath in the river, followed by dancing and singing. Special traditional foods are prepared and more traditional rites performed. Five days later, she dresses up in her best outfit and goes around the village to thank everyone who had attended the ceremony. (Rattray, Religion, pp. 69-74) There are no similar customs for males among the Ashanti.
In order to marry, a young man must get permission from the bride-to-be's parents, and offer gifts to any members of the clan to whom his bride-to-be directs him. These gifts may be fish, tobacco, salt or gold dust. Once the customary "bride price" is paid, along with the consent of the girl and her parents, a wedding day is set. On the morning of the marriage, the bride dresses up in her best dress adorned with gold ornaments, and is led by her mother to the bridegroom's house, where they thank him for all his gifts. They leave, later to return, when the chief of the village says a few words and performs a short ceremony, including a sip of customary wine. (Rattray, Ibid., pp. 84-85)
As stated above, polygamy is traditional among Ashanti, one wife being the senior wife, who would be consulted if any additional wives were contemplated. The Ashanti word for co-wife means, jealous one, although there were apparently families where everyone seemed to live rather peacefully. Whichever wife sleeps with her husband cooks for him, usually for a week at a time. Disputes among wives are not the responsibility of the husband, although he is expected to administer an orderly household. Both husbands and wives can divorce each other. Reasons for divorce among the Ashanti include: adultery, sterility, drunkenness, physical abuse, and refusal to give support (husband). In case of divorce, a married woman's property is totally separate from her husband's; he has no claim on them. The children also, are the mother's, since they are of the mother's clan. (Rattray, Ibid., pp. 97-98) Often, however, in case of divorce, the sons stay with the father.
Generally, private arbitration is the approved manner for legal settlement among the Ashanti, since they do not wish disputes to come to public attention. A minor complaint is usually judged by a family member; a serious matter would have to be taken up by a head of the clan plus two other community members. Juries are not used; the only need for a large group of arbiters would be in the case of two members from different clans, when the village chief, his elders and a local priest may be called in. Young offenders are often excused from guilt on grounds of ignorance. Even adults can be excused from legal punishment if they can reasonably prove that "the commission of the offense has been without deliberate intention and knowledge". (Tufuo, p. 71) The Ashanti believe in justice, but justice with mercy.
The Ashanti culture strives to benefit everyone through the efforts of the individuals who make it up. Competition is seen as something healthy; power and wealth are not to be despised, but ultimately the test to a true Ashanti is to strive toward a unity which benefits everyone. Struggle and disagreements, even jealousy are built into the Ashanti way of life, and the Ashanti proverb says it this way:
Yenyuina y'afruru ako
Nanso yedidi a, yeko.
Which means: "We are two crocodiles sharing one common stomach; yet when it is mealtime, we struggle with one another."
(Antubam, p. 193) Struggle and strife are necessary, but unity born of diversity is worth the price!
Post by daphne on Jul 8, 2014 16:05:53 GMT -6
Thank you very much for clarifying and expanding on the subject.
It is very much appreciated.
Post by angeles on Jul 22, 2014 14:18:44 GMT -6
I have read the information provided regarding the types of clients we can choose to design the house for, however, I am wondering:
1. which are the types of families in most need for a house in Ashanti?
2. the main profession or work done by the families that will occupy the house?
3. I understand you have mentioned civil servants and others, however, could you please be more specific on their requirements in order to provide a better and accurate design that will fulfill their needs?
Thank you in advance!!
Post by Nka on Jul 25, 2014 18:38:16 GMT -6
REPLY TO DAPHNE
You wrote: "...could you please be more specific on their requirements in order to provide a better and accurate design that will fulfill their needs?" Assuming that you are designing a house for a middle school principal at the Juaben Township. Here is the link to information about the local area: ejisujuaben.ghanadistricts.gov.gh There you will click on the menu: “About Ejisu Juaben” and then click on “View Links” to read about the local demographic characteristics, environmental situation, towns in this municipality, cultural heritage and customs, water and sanitation, social infrastructure, industrial sector, health sector, agricultural sector, educational sector, action plan, etc.
At the present, he is single and would be marrying in the next few years. He likes the arts. He is a man of the people; that is, he is popular in the community. What else do you need to know? If there is, I will get the information from him?