ARTS & CULTURE - SOCIAL AND ETHNIC STRUCTURE
The indigenous people of the Municipality are the ‘Agonas’. Over the years they have co-existed with other prominent minority migrants such as Obutus, Gomoas, Ewes, Effutus, Fantis, Kwahus, Atakpames, Kontokoris and several ethnic groupings of Northern Ghana origin.
There is no existing documentation on the ethnic structure of the Municipality but local estimates of the migrant population is about 10% to 30% (4-Year Integrated MTDP (2010-2013)).
Apart from Swedru (the Municipal capital) to which people are attracted due to the existence of public and private sector business activities, Otsenkorang Area Council also has a high migrant population due to the cocoa industry. Here, migrants outnumber the indigenes by a ratio of 4:1 (source: 1996-2000 MTDP). Kwahus and Gomoas dominate in cocoa farming. Despites the high number of different ethnic groups, the Municipality has a strong social integration from the diverse ethnic groups. The groups intermarry and participate in shared cropping arrangements under the existing land tenure systems, especially the ‘Abunu’ and ‘Abusa’ which are commonly practiced. This has promoted solid social bonds and economic ties between migrant tenants and their indigenous landlords. It also makes it easier for tenants to acquire land for farming.
FESTIVALS & FUNERALS
Festivals are important in the social life of the people in Agona West Municipality. The “Akwambo” festival is the most important traditional festival instituted for the spiritual reunion of the people. It is celebrated every year between August and October. As a social festivity, it also an occasion where communities plan their developmental activities including strategies for mobilizing funds for project implementation.
Funeral rites that provide solemn occasions for sober reflection have also become occasions that bring people together. It is one single most important event that brings the youth home to mourn with their people. It also enable the youth visit their old parents. Business in mourning cloth is quit brisk, particularly, Swedru.
The people of Agona practice the matrilineal inheritance system. Female children in the extended family under this system are considered important for the survival of the family as a unit. Inheritance is therefore passed on from brothers to their sisters’ children (nephews and nieces). Female share of labour and contributions to the family income from agriculture is quite substantial.
Polygamy is a common social characteristic in the Municipality, particularly in less urban and farming communities. Some of the reasons for polygamy mentioned include:
- The wide disparity of the male-female ratio reaching as high as 1:3 in some localities
- Inadequate opportunities for women compelling them to seek early marriage as teenagers
- The tendency of some men to use female labour on their farms
The inhabitants of Agona West are highly religious. The dominant religion is Christianity. Other religions such as Islam and Traditional worship also exist in the minority. Religious groups found in the Municipality co-exist peacefully. The larger Christian population in all Urban, Town and Area Councils makes the church a possible forum for information dissemination on community/group mobilization for development in the Municipality.
All other religious groups observe the taboos in the Municipality. These taboos, which are considered to have socio-economic and spiritual importance, include regulation of farming days, land use, water resources use and control and adhesion to some social norms. There are non-farming taboo days in every Urban, Town and Area Council as depicted in Table 6.