Ghana Month Special: Uncovering the Nuances and Nostalgia of Traditional Home Essentials! - Onlinetimesgh

Ghana Month Special: Uncovering the Nuances and Nostalgia of Traditional Home Essentials!

Before the emergence of technology, there were certain objects that could not be missed in a typical Ghanaian home. Over time, things have changed. However, some of these traditional tools can still be seen in some homes while others have totally disappeared. Today, let’s reminisce about these traditional tools as part of on Ghana month series.

Box Iron

Do you still remember the box iron? I bet you don’t. Most students in the late 1980s and 90s might have some very fond memories of this one. The box iron was a steel device that opened at the top and was filled with hot/lighted charcoal. The lighted coal then heated up the iron which then straightened the material pressed over. The ironing could go terribly wrong if the box iron wasn’t properly closed as it would lead to hot coals raining on the material to be ironed. The heavy iron required considerable effort to operate and most people breathed a sigh of relief when the electric iron made its way to the Ghanaian scene. Due to their cumbersome nature, they are no longer found in most Ghanaian homes. It needed no electricity to work, just hot coals.

Tripod Stove

Locally known as “Mukyea”, these traditional stoves can be credited with centuries of traditional Ghanaian cooking. This has been replaced by gas cookers and electric stoves. The clay stoves were made of 3 large stones covered with clay and positioned in a way that, one stone was ahead while the remaining two were placed side by side, the clay stoves used firewood as a source of fuel. The cook in the home, usually mothers or female offspring were required to fan the fire to produce enough heat to cook the meal. This usually produced smoke that stung and reddened the eyes of the cook.

Raffia Mat

Before the introduction of mattresses, there was the raffia mat. This was made out of thatch or straw, it was a popular sleep companion for most Ghanaians. This mat was very portable and ideal for sleeping on no matter the time of the day since all that was required was to roll it out wherever one wanted to sleep. Today, modern Ghanaian homes have hammocks for relaxing and enjoying fresh air as well as different types of mattresses in the bedrooms. The raffia mats were lean and almost bare.

Large Clay Pots

Often known as “coolers”, these large pots were primarily used to store drinking water. They were made of clay and usually had clay lids. They were filled with drinking water and placed in the corner of rooms and it is believed that the clay used in making the pot cooled the water. It also served as a water purifier since impure materials settled at the base of the pots. The clay coolers gave drinking water a different taste. Hawkers used to sell water in these clay pots before sachet, bottled water, refrigerator, and dispensers were introduced.

Earthenware Bowls (Asanka)

This is one Ghanaian home accessory that has stood the test of time. Its use has evolved over time and has remained relevant. Traditionally, the “Asanka” comes with its counterpart known as the “tapoli”. The tapoli is a wooden, hourglass-shaped, two-sided kitchen hand pestle. The “Asanka” and the grinding stone served as blenders in the old days. Although the blending functions of this tool have been replaced by the fast, convenient, and effortless blender, the versatile “Asanka” still finds a way to be useful. It is very popular at “Chop Bars” or local eateries and is used for serving traditional dishes such as fufu and soup. It also makes the best pepper for kenkey at home. Large ceramic bowls could be used as a replacement for the “Asanka”. However, the dark earthenware bowl is the mostly used option.

Hejuu kotsa – The natural bathing sponge

Hejuu kotsa is a natural, traditional bathing sponge that is processed from a plant called Saporyaa in Ghana. It is important to distinguish between taa kotsa and hejuu kotsa. They are the same color and same texture, a slight difference being that the fibers of the taa kotsa are a bit thicker than those of the hejuu kotsa. There is also a difference in its use, while hejuu kotsa is used for bathing, the taa kotsa is used for teeth brushing and removing bad odor. Now, most people use toothbrush and it’s paste for that purpose. Think of hejuu kotsa as what we know as a loofah sponge. It helps remove excess dirt, oil, and dead skin. It is a great alternative to any other artificial sponges or even the other very popular sponge in Ghana called the Sapo. The sapo is the African net sponge that comes in many different colors and is sold in every local market (it is very cheap too). Ask any Ghanaian what they use to bathe with, and most likely they will tell you sapo. The sapo is an evolution of the hejuu kotsa. It does have its benefits and one of them is the length of it, which allows you to scrub your back with ease. However, it is made out of plastics, as opposed to the hejuu kotsa which is 100% natural. Apart from its uses for bathing and cleaning, it can also be used for other traditional and religious purposes, spirit cleansing and is even a great natural alternative to the washing sponge!

Papa fans

The papa fans (papa meaning fan in Ga) have been around for decades and are an important element of a Ghanaian’s traditional life, especially because firewood and charcoal are the primary sources of energy for cooking. The fans are mostly used to fan coal pots but can also be used to fan oneself. The papa fans are made out of palm tree leaves and can be woven super fast.

The “praye” broom

This traditional broom is used in every home in Ghana. It’s a bundle of broomsticks scraped from raffia palm trees, tied together with a rope or any material that can hold the broomsticks in place. It is a local cleaning tool used in the then days for sweeping, and it still holds its value even in the present age, although there are new versions of the broom which still serves its original purpose.
The broom is not just a cleaning tool, it has age long been known as a symbol of unity. Reason being that a group of sticks made from the same source were tied together to achieve a common goal, and there can be no effective sweeping if the individual broomsticks stand alone. It was also used as a measuring stick for buying shoes. The way they would do it is, they would break a locally made broomstick and align it by the feet and break just enough to match the length of the broom stick with that of the shoe owners.

There are so many to share but just few to mention. Share with us some contraptions you do remember and their use.

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