African Popular Culture

Lecturer: Dr. Owusu Brempong
Assuming a sociological perspective, this course will examine Traditional Festivals and Funeral Ceremonies as two components of 'African Popular Culture'. It will pay particular attention to social conflicts in them and their social roles in Africa. The course conveniently falls into two parts:
  • 1st and 2nd Weeks Examination of sociological concepts to be used in the course; Definition, classification and structure of traditional festivals.
-Basic Reading: Reading List Nos. 5,6,16,18 and 19 in addition to students' own sources
  • 3rd Week Detailed examination of examples of traditional festivals chosen from different black African countries beginning with the Odwira Festival of Ghana.

-Basic Reading: Reading List Nos. 4,18, 19, etc.

  • 4th Week The Masqual Festival of Ethiopia

-Basic Reading: Reading List Nos. 9,13,14 etc.

  • 5th Week The Apoo Festivals of Wenchi, Takyiman and Nkoranza people of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.

-Basic Reading: Reading List Nos. 16, 17 etc.

  • 6th Week The Olojo festival of Ife, Nigeria

-Basic Reading Reading List No. 26

  • 7th Week The Harvest Festival of the Sonjo of Tanzania

-Basic Reading Reading List No. 11

  • 8th Week Harvest and Thanksgiving Festival of Mashona of Malawi and Farming Ritual or Uri Festival of the Kingdom of Congo in Zaire

-Basic Reading Reading List No. 2

  • 9th & 10th Weeks Examination of Social Conflicts in the Social Roles of Traditional Festivals.

-Basic Reading Reading List Nos. 5,6,16,20,25, 8, 10,& 19.

1st and 2nd Weeks Detailed description of the ideas about human personality and beliefs concerning the dead and how these are reflected in the funeral rites of the Asantes of Ghana.
Basic Reading Reading List Nos. 4,5, 20 etc.

3rd & 4th Weeks The notions held by the Bantu of Western Kenya (i.e. the Vugus and Logoli) and how the notions are reflected in the funeral rites of the Asante of Ghana.
Basic Reading Reading List No. 25

5th and 6th Weeks Death of Kings In Egypt
Basic Reading Reading List No. 23

7 th & 8 th Weeks An examination of similar elements found in the funeral rites of several ethnic groups in difference parts of Africa.
Basic Reading Reading List Nos. 1,15,22,23,24 etc.

9 th & 10 th Weeks An Examination of Social Conflicts and Social Rites of African Funeral Ceremonies
Basic Reading Reading List Nos. 5,6,16,20,25, etc.


  1. Balander, George Daily Life in the Kingdom of Kongo, London, George Allen and Unwin Limited.
  2. Bame, K.N. 1991. (Profiles in African Traditional Popular Culture: Consensus and Conflict). Dance, Drama, Festivals and Funerals. New York Cleartype Press Inc.
  3. Bowdich T, 1809. Mission from Cape Coast to Ashanti.
  4. Busia, K.A. 1951. The Position of the Chief in Modern Political System of Ashanti. London: Oxford University Press.
  5. Busia, K.A., 1962.The Challenge of Africa: Frederick A. Praeger.
  6. Chiney Ely, 1968. Sociological Perspectives (2nd Ed.) New York: Random House,Chapter 5.
  7. Durkheim, E., 1912. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by Joseph W. Swain, London. Allen, 1015.
  8. Evans-Pritchard, 1956 Nuer Religion, Oxford Clarendon Press.
  9. Festival Pamphlet Northwestern State Argungu Division. A Brief Survey. Ministry of Information, Sokoto.
  10. Fortes, Meyer, 1986 "Ritual, Festival and Social Cohesion in hinterland of the Gold Coast." American Anthropologist, 38, 4, pp.590-604.
  11. Gray, Robert R. The Sonjo of Tanganyika.
  12. Habenstein R.W., 1968 "The Social Organisation of Death" International Encyclopedia of Science: Vol. 4.
  13. Harris, P.G., 1942. "The Debbi Fishermen (Sokoto Province, Nigeria)" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, No. 72.
  14. Information Directorate. Argungu Annual Fishing and Culture (Balme Library Sokoto, 1981 Reference).
  15. Mair L.P., 1965 An African People in the Twentieth Century, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  16. Merton, R.K. 1957. Social Theory and Social Structure, The Free Press, New York.
  17. Meyerowitz, Eva L.R.1958. The Akan of Ghana: Their Ancient Beliefs.
  18. Nketia, J.H. 1975. "Traditional Festivals in Ghana and Community Life. Cultures: Vol. III, No. 2 pp. 33-44.
  19. Opoku, A.A., 1970. Festivals of Ghana, Accra: Ghana Publishing Corporation.
  20. Rattray, Capt. Religion and Art in Ashanti. Oxford: Oxford University Press