The population of Ghana is incredibly diverse, and the government of modern Ghana recognizes many national languages. Two of the most widespread are the Twi language of the Ashanti people, which is spoken in the southern and central regions, and the Dagbani language of the Dagomba people, spoken by people in areas to the north.

No Ghanaian culture historically used traditional forms of writing and kept their languages alive through oral traditions. However, the Akan people did use a form of symbolic depiction known as Adinkra. These designs represent complex concepts, like proverbs and overarching theories, rather than words.

They were used on everything from fabrics, jewelry, and pottery, to walls, architectural elements and on the weights used in trading gold. Personal and home accessories, as well as clothing, incorporating these symbols, can be purchased from Ghana’s many artisans.

Modern Ghanaians communicate across linguistic barriers using English as a unifier. About half of the country speaks English, and it is one of the nations official languages. In fact, Ghana’s National Anthem is sung in English.

Today most Ghanaians self-identify as Christians. However, the native religion of the influential Ashanti Empire was a form of pantheism known as Akom, a Twi word meaning “to be hungry”. Many of the traditions of Akom are still very much alive today and are combined with Christian traditions.

The Akom cosmology centers around a creator god, most widely recognized by the name Nyame – who makes his home in the sky – and his wife, Asase Yaa, the earth. Their wishes are carried out by spirit beings.

Relatives who have passed over are also part of this nonphysical realm. A favorite spirit of traditional Ghanaian storytellers is Anansi, a swindling spider, represented in Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, which was recently made into a TV series.