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Beads and Romance in Ghana

Beads play an important role in courting in Ghana. Some young men make beads from bamboo and give them to girls they like.

The cut the shafts into beads, incise them and darken some of them for contrast in a fire. If she likes the boy she will wear his beads.

Many girls still go through the Dipo ceremony when are ready to marry. This young Krobo woman is wearing all the family's beads (and maybe some borrowed ones). The Krobo are beadmakers and proud of their work.

She is being "outdoored," sent to the city or another village to attract a husband. While loincloths are now worn, traditionally she wore nothing but the beads. Valued beads are a favorable sign to the young man who might want to marry her.

The beads indicate the family's wealth. Or at least they are supposed to. It caused a stir among Africanists when I reported that Natios' grandmother in Odumanse said that without any young women in the house she rents her beads to other families for the Dipo. This results in false advertising, doesn't it? Oh, those wily women!

Young Krobo woman being "Outdoored."

Beads play an important role in lovemaking itself in much of Africa, from at least the Sudan to Senegal and down to Cameroon. The beads women wear under skirts are considered erotic. They are played with before and during lovemaking. Men take oaths on them. A woman can be judges an adulteress for describing them to another man.  


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