Public Face of Islam in Kumasi

By Gracia Clark

Modern Wedding

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Women Neighbors Dancing (00:00:00-00:01:00)

Bride's Trousseau and Enteance (00:03:37-00:06:30)

The Bride and Groom Dancing (00:05:55-00:06:30)
Courtesy of Gracia Clark

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Creator: Clark, Gracia
Description: Weddings are some of the most important family ceremonies in most cultures, and especially for Muslims because their religion calls for relatively simple funerals. In Ghana, as in much of West Africa, the bride and her mother demonstrate and bolster their social status by accumulating an impressive array of cloth and household items which the bride takes to her marital home. Displaying these goods, usually called a dowry, remains a prominent feature of the event even when the goods themselves include more that appeal to modern than traditional aspirations. Both mothers and teenage daughters in Kumasi can join special mutual savings groups that collect money in anticipation of the girls’ weddings.

This wedding takes place in one of the older Muslim suburbs and provides a good example of the melding of traditional and modern elements. The ceremony begins with women kin and friends of the bride dancing in front of a huge display of furniture, electric appliances, suitcases, clothing and stacks of serving dishes. Members of the savings group dance wearing their uniform-a brown polo shirt with the name of the group printed on it. Other participants wear a variety of old and new fashions. The commentary of a master of ceremonies, speaking with a microphone, adds glamour to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the groom is praying with male members of both families at a nearby mosque to solemnize the marriage.

The festivities climax with the entry of the bride, not wearing white but some of her colorful new clothes. Her friends and family drop money on the ground before her, which a young attendant deftly collects before she steps on it. She meets the groom under an arch of balloons, where they dance together rather awkwardly before both turning to dance more comfortably with their familiar companions.

Subject: Women
Date: March 2012
Date Range: 2010-2019
Location: Kumasi, Ashanti, Ghana
Format: Video/mp4
Rights Management: For educational use only.
Contributing Institution: Gracia Clark; MATRIX: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University

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