Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 333-359

First online:

Yebisa Wo Fie: Growing old and building a house in the Akan Culture of Ghana

  • Sjaak van der GeestAffiliated withAnthropological-Sociological Centre, University of Amsterdam

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'House' (ofie) in the Akan culture of Ghana is the most common metonym for people living together. Mefie (my house) means 'my family'. A house is someone's identity, it is a sign of security and happiness. A house is the concretisation of social relations and the sentiments accompanying them. A house, not least of all, is a status symbol. Building a house is building a powerful symbol. A house is something to which people attach some of the most cherished virtues of their culture: respect, love, memory, 'home' and beauty. In this article, building a house is seen as one of the most important achievements in a person's life. It provides elderly people with respect and security. The article is based on anthropological research in the rural Ghanaian town of Kwahu-Tafo.

Akan Elderly House Ghana Respect Reciprocity Security