Ghana Where Beads Speak

Ama Ata Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo

The Affirmation

The story of beads is the story of time:
Of human life and history.
The story of beads, my very dear child
Is yesterday, of today, and ever

“Ama Ata Aidoo”


From the book ‘Ghana Where Beads Speak

Excerpts of Foreword by Elizabeth Maundo, Director, UNESCO Accra Cluster Office

…The word ‘bead conjures up vivid images of diversity.  Beads have been traded as money, exchanged for huge tracts of land, collected as items of value and incorporated into arts and crafts since prehistoric times.  Beads have a history of spirituality in world religions and philosophies in the form of prayer beads linked to Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Native American spirituality and African faiths.  Indeed, making, using and wearing beads creates a palpable symbiosis, connecting our senses to universal energies.  A string of beads, for instance, is a perfect, simplistic and fully attainable method of universal connectedness, an excellent conduit in the search, attainment and promotion of intercultural dialogue and peace.

…small and unobtrusive yet powerful symbols, they are a central component of eloquent personal expression for both men and women in Ghana, and an important part of the Ghanaian economy.

Excerpts from the book

.it [beads] announces pain, joy and pride.  The bead also symbolizes links amongst the peoples of Ghana in a complex and ancient network to a surprising range of peoples the world over.  The bead also represents the link between heritage, creativity and change.  Beads used in Ghana have been made from a very wide variety of materials.  These include bone, stone, wood, coconut shell, sea shells, clay, brass and glass.  There are many stories on the origin and powers of beads.  The elders say that the precious stone and ‘bodom’ beads are to be found at the point where the rainbow meets the earth.  Stone beads are associated with thunder as they can be found after a heavy rainstorm and are believed to have been rained down in the storm.

…Today, the interest in beads and their historical, current as well as potential value to Ghanaian and to world culture has risen considerably. Scholars as well as collectors, performing artists and fashion designers are amongst the most prominent of these enthusiasts.

Elegant and enchanting bead,
Flowered flawed, folded or fielded
You are the true frame of our feasts
Our festivals, fetes, and fiestas