The girl child’s transition from childhood to adulthood, Dipo, is of prime importance in the development of the Krobo community of Ghana. The transition acknowledges the part women play in the welfare of society; hence the performance of elaborate puberty rites for girls. The performance of Dipo puberty rites is therefore regarded as a means of unifying teenage women in their social role and integrating the arts of the Krobo people. Furthermore, it reveals the significance of these different art forms in the life of the Krobo people and in Dipo performance in particular. The problem, however, is that although there are several artistic elements embedded in the performance of Dipo, they have not been documented as art forms; nor have they constituteded a site for critical discussion and appraisal of Ghanaian performing arts. Early historical and anthropological scholarship on Dipo almost completely overlooks these artistic elements. This essay responds to this critical gap by situating Dipo in the context of these artifacts as displayed in multiple phases of ritual ‘installation’ performance. This essay also identifies and examines the specific artistic elements featuring in the rite in order to highlight their embeddedness in and significance to the Krobo people, and, by extension, Ghana. The artistic elements in Dipo include ritualized visual, verbal, body, and theatrical elements, all of which are active and inseparable in the rites. As such, these art forms are analysed and discussed by means of figures and plates, which confirm visually their existence, aesthetic significance, and cultural value.
Van Gennep cited in Thera RasingPassing on the Rites of Passage: Girls Initiation Rites in the Context of an Urban Roman Catholic Community on the Zambian Copperbelt (Amsterdam: African Studies Centre1995): 34.
Marijke SteegstraDipo and the Politics of Culture in Ghana (Accra Newtown: Woeli2005); Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher African Ceremonies 2 vols. (New York: Harry N. Abrams 2002); Joseph K. Adjaye “Dangerous Crossroads: Liminality and Contested Meaning in Krobo (Ghana) Dipo Girls’ Initiation” Journal of Cultural Studies 12.1 (March 2007): 5–26; Hugo Huber The Krobo: Traditional Social and Religious Life of a West African People (Fribourg: St. Paul’s Press 1993); B.D. Teyegaga Dipo Custom and the Christian Faith (Accra: J’Printer Printing Press Limited 1983); Thomas Odonkor The Rise of the Krobo tr. S.S. Odonkor (Tema: Ghana Publishing Corporation 1971).