Ghana is a place very rich in culture and tradition and very innovative when it comes to creating objects that make life easier (such as Taa Kotsa, the natural Ghanaian toothbrush). Many of these items reflect the country’s history and culture and have a sustainable nature. If you want to feel more Ghanaian at home, be sure to get hold of these 5 traditional objects you can only find in Ghana.
5 Traditional Ghanaian objects
Hejuu kotsa – The natural bathing sponge
Hejuu kotsa is a natural, traditional bathing sponge that is processed from a plant calle Saporyaa in Ghana. It is important to distinguish between taa kotsa and hejuu kotsa. They are the same colour and same texture, a slight difference being that the fibers of the taa kotsa are a bit thicker than those of the hejuu kotsa.
There is also a difference in its use, while hejuu kotsa is used for bathing, the taa kotsa is used for teeth brushing and removing bad odour.
Think of hejuu kotsa as what we know as a loofah sponge. It helps remove excess dirt, oil and dead skin. It is a great alternative to any other artificial sponges or even the other very popular sponge in Ghana called the Sapo.
The sapo is the African net sponge that comes in many different colours and is sold in every local market (it is very cheap too). Ask any Ghanaian what they use to bathe with, and most likely they will tell you sapo. The sapo is an evolution of the hejuu kotsa. It does have its benefits and one of them is the length of it, which allows you to scrub your back with ease. However, it is made out of plastics, as opposed to the hejuu kotsa which is 100% natural.
Apart from its uses for bathing and cleaning, it can also be used for other traditional and religious purposes, spirit cleansing and is even a great natural alternative to the washing sponge! Next time try hand washing your dishes with this sponge! If you do so, let us know in the comments what your thoughts were 🙂
Papa fans – Natural woven fans that will cool the heat down
The papa fans (papa meaning fan in Ga) have been around for decades and are an important element of a Ghanaians traditional life, especially because firewood and charcoal are the primary sources of energy for cooking (particularly in the villages but you can also see a lot of street food vendors in Accra using this same method).
The fans are mostly used to fan coal pots but can also be used to fan oneself. The papa fans are made out of palm tree leaves and can be woven super fast – in less than 15 minutes! Some years back there was a video that went viral of a bride’s wedding who was using one of these papa fans as a bridal fan. You can watch it here.
What was once created as a coal pot fan, nowadays is an object of art made of different materials, colours, shapes and sizes and sold worldwide. In Ghana a good example are the elephant grass fans that use the same weaving method as the Bolga baskets.
“Asanka and Tapoli” – the African grinder
Like many other traditional objects, rituals, traditions and Ghanaian ceremonies, the Asanka and Tapoli is another one of these examples of local objects that has stood the test of time. Its use has evolved over time and has remained relevant. Traditionally, the “Asanka” comes with its counterpart known as the “tapoli”.
The tapoli is a wooden, hourglass-shaped, two-sided kitchen hand pestle. The “Asanka” and the grinding stone served as blenders in the old days. Although the blending functions of this tool have been replaced by the fast, convenient and effortless blender, the versatile “Asanka” still finds a way to be useful. It is appropriately used when there is no electricity.
It is very popular at “Chop Bars” or local eateries and is used for serving traditional dishes such as fufu and soup. Also, it makes the best pepper for kenkey at home. Large ceramic bowls could be used as a replacement for the “Asanka”. However, the dark earthenware bowl is still quite the popular option.
The “praye” broom
This traditional broom is used in every home in Ghana. It’s a bundle of broomsticks scraped from raffia palm trees, tied together with a rope or any material that can hold the broomsticks in place. It is a local cleaning tool used in the then days for sweeping, and it still holds its value even in the present age, although there are new versions of the broom which still serves its original purpose.
The broom is not just a cleaning tool, it has age long been known as a symbol of unity. Reason being that a group of sticks made from the same source were tied together to achieve a common goal, and there can be no effective sweeping if the individual broomsticks stand alone. Hence the broom is a symbol of unity.
In the Asante and other Akan cultures, the broom held spiritual value and symbolised away past wrongs or removing evil spirits. Nowadays, there are still many spiritual values attached to the broom, such as using it to sack evil spirits from the home.
Another interesting fact about these brooms is that in remote times, the broom would be used to measure people’s feet in order to be able to buy the right size of footwear. The way they would do it is, they would break a locally made broomstick and align it by the feet and break just enough to match the length of the broom stick with that of the shoe owners.
The calabash – a symbol of femininity
The calabash is a must. Not only can you use it for decorative purposes in your home, but it can also be used to eat and drink from it, store jewellery and many other things you can come up with if you are creative enough!
It is important to know that the African calabash is one of the products that have been regarded as a planet saver. Once it breaks or becomes unusable, it can be disposed of and it will decay naturally without polluting the soil.