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Dipo: The Krobo Ghanaian Puberty Rite and Art

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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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Ghana


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