Social Work in Africa: Exploring Culturally Relevant Education and Practice in Ghana

Social Work in Africa: Exploring Culturally Relevant Education and Practice in Ghana

Social Work in Africa: Exploring Culturally Relevant Education and Practice in Ghana

Social Work in Africa: Exploring Culturally Relevant Education and Practice in Ghana

Excerpt

The African continent has a rich and ancient history of which much has been forgotten and remains unacknowledged by the world today. With the expansion of European civilization into Africa in the 1800s (Congress of Berlin, 2000) came the assumption that Africa was a continent to be explored and exploited, having no relevant history or culture (Hegel, 1956; Kuykendall, 1993; Pakenham, 1991) and thus was a land free to be conquered and civilized. However, it is clear that Africa had a long involved, complex and cultured history with an immense diversity of ethnic groups living on a continent, complete with appropriate social, economic, and political infrastructures. In terms of governance, “Africa was probably more democratic than most other parts of the world, including Europe” (Tandon, 1996, p. 296). Kuykendall (1993) emphasizes that “customs, laws, and traditions were the constitution and these structured the society … and from these structures stability and perpetuity were maintained” (p. 579). An example of these laws and customs can be seen in the region of Africa that is now known as West Africa, which was divided into kingdoms in pre-colonial times (Ray, 1986). Life was mainly rural, with clans settling in different regions. The centre of the social system in pre-colonial West Africa was the kinship institution. Defined as “patterns of behaviour associated with relatives in a society, together with the principles of governing these behaviours” (Nukunya, 1992, p. 11), this system uplifted and supported the running of societies. It served as a way to administer rules and principles of seniority, succession, and residence patterns concerning customary law (Rattray, 1929). Within the kinship system were descent groups called clans and lineages (Busia, 1951; Nukunya, 1992). Intertwined in these systems was a religious belief system that depended heavily on the guidance and punishment by ancestors throughout life.

The Asante Kingdom had a chieftaincy system in place whereby the king (divisional level) was to administer the Division, look after the spiritual, physical, and emotional welfare of the people, maintain law and order, consult with elders, lead the army into battle, and act as mediator . . .

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