CONTINUITIES AND CHANGES IN TRADITIONAL AKAN ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION PRACTICES
This dissertation examines traditional religio-cultural beliefs/practices and environmental problems in Ghana using the Kwahu Traditional Area as a case study. Its primary objective is to examine the continuities and changes in the traditional Akan environmental preservation practices. It explores how these practices have evolved in pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods. It also delves into whether the original intention for instituting the Kwahu peoples' religio-cultural beliefs and practices was to tackle environmental problems or whether its establishment was for other purposes but is unconsciously serving the former. Moreover, the study investigates whether the traditional Kwahu environmental beliefs and practices are old practices with old environmental awareness, which has been retooled to tackle contemporary environmental issues. The study employs qualitative data from 89 (23 females and 66 males) in-depth interviews conducted in 16 communities across the Kwahu Traditional Area of Ghana between June–November 2017 and June–July 2018. I supplemented the interviews with observations. The research has been carried out within the framework of the human-environment relationship theory. Overall, this study reveals that both external and internal factors—the impacts of colonialism, the rising interference of central government in local affairs without regard for local initiatives and sovereignty, and the inroads made by Christianity—have influenced that changes in the traditional environmental preservation practices of the Kwahu people. The findings also suggest that changes in traditional environmental practices have both favourable and adverse impacts on the natural environment. Further, the findings disclose that traditional environmental practices that solely rely on supernatural justification to achieve compliance have been undermined because of the erosion of the reverence attached to traditional representative. However, resource management practices that have utilitarian relevance, in addition to their metaphysical values, are still observed in contemporary Kwahu societies. The findings imply that despite the changes in traditional environmental practices, they are still relevant in addressing environmental issues in the study area. This dissertation suggests that a collaboration between the Kwahu people's traditional approaches to environmental conservation and alternative approaches to environmental conservation, namely modern (scientific) methods becomes all the more important.