Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tribal Marks

When I first arrived in Ghana, I noticed many Ghanaians had marks on their faces. These marks looked like scars, but seemed too methodical, and occurred too frequently, to be accidental.

I soon found out they were tribal marks. Every tribe has their own unique style of mark which is used to identify different ethnic groups. I have seen single horizontal or vertical lines, but I have also seen faces that seem to have been marked on either side using a rake.

Seeing tribal marks for the first time was a blunt reminder that I was entering a whole new world, one with entirely different cultural practices. Now, I find myself comparing marks and trying to identify the tribe.

This is not a great picture, but you are able to see the horizontal mark on this community elder's right cheek. The marks are typically mirrored on both sides, so pretend you are looking at him straight on and can see both cheeks.

Today, tribal marks are not as popular among younger generations. Some find the practice barbaric and without purpose. Others stopped giving the marks to create a more unified Ghanaian, as opposed to ethnic, identity. However, many Ghanaians remain proud of their marks and want to continue the tradition by passing on the marks to their own children.

I have a feeling I won't see too many when I return to the U.S....

I don't always fully understand aspects of Ghanaian culture, but I am so thankful that I've had the opportunity to experience and learn about things that are completely foreign to me. Whether I prefer things here or elsewhere, whether I find them right or wrong, I'm seeing new things and I'm seeing them in a new way.

P.S. I leave two weeks from today.
P.P.S. I still haven't had my first final. I think I'll start studying this weekend, as my first is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15th.

1 comment:

  1. The only tribal marks in the US are Seal's hehe Love you Em. I am so glad you have had such a wonderful and unique experience.