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Nzema people

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Title: Nzema people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nzema language, Music of Ivory Coast, Western region (Ghana), Ghanaian cuisine, Boris Kodjoe
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Ghana
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nzema people

Total population
Regions with significant populations
Western Region of Ghana, Ivory Coast
Nzema, Twi/Fante
Christianity, African Traditional Religion, Islam
Related ethnic groups

The Nzema are an Akan people numbering about 328,700, of whom 262,000 live in southwestern Ghana and 66,700 live in the southeast of Côte d'Ivoire. In Ghana the Nzema area is divided into three electoral districts of Nzema East Municipal also referred to as Evalue Gwira, Ellembele District and Nzema West, which is also referred to as Jomoro District of Ghana. Their language is also known as Nzima (in Ghana) or Appolo (in the Ivory Coast).

The Nzema are mostly farmers. According to their traditional calendar, days are ordered in cycles of seven, and these follow each other in a three-week cycle. They have a matrilineal kinship system, with descent and property passed through the maternal lines.

A religious Kundum Festival is held annually all over the Ahanta-Nzema area. Its start is timed to coordinate with the harvest period, so local communities determine when that will be. It begins in the easternmost part of Ahanta and advances southwestward together with the harvest period. Ritual drumming, singing and dancing take place for four weeks, and are considered the way the community expels devils and protects its good fortune. This festival is the main occasion on which the satirical avudewene songs are performed by young men.

The Area was part of the Empire of Denkyira and later Ashanti.

The pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah was an Nzema. Anton Wilhelm Amo, who was born in the Axim region and taken to Europe as a boy, was raised in Germany as one of a duke's family and educated in the best schools and universities. He became a philosopher in eighteenth-century Germany, teaching at two universities, before he returned to his homeland.

See also

  • Aby lagoon
  • Assongu, a spirit force worshipped by the peoples of this area, represented in terracotta figurines to which offerings are presented.


  • Burmeister, Jonathan L. 1976. "A comparison of variable nouns in Anyi-Sanvi and Nzema."
  • Egya-Blay. 1987. "Changing patterns of authority over children among the Western Nzema."
  • Grottanelli, Vinigi L. (1988) The python killer: stories of Nzema life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Rowson, Hilary M. 1987. "Health and the gods in contemporary Nzema thought."
  • Valsecchi, Pierluigi (1999) "Calendar and the annual festival in Nzema: notes on time and history", Africa (Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente), 54, 4, 489-513.
  • Valsecchi, Pierluigi (2001) "The 'true Nzema': a layered identity", Africa (International Africa Institute), 71, 3, 391-425.
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