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Posuban Shrines of Ghana

Updated: Mar 19

Posuban shrines are traditional fortified structures found in Ghana, West Africa.

The word “posuban” is a combination of the corrupted form of the English word “post” that is “posu” and the word “ban” meaning a fortification.

These shrines are typically located along Southern Ghana in the vicinity of forts or castles that were built along the coast by European traders and colonial powers during the 15th to the 19th century.

They are historically built by the Akan tribe, who are the largest ethnic group in Ghana, and are usually made of concrete and painted with bright colors to create a visually striking effect to serve as both military and religious posts for Asafo groups.

The Asafo are responsible for maintaining peace and security within the community and the posuban shrine is where they would gather for guidance, as well as for important religious and cultural ceremonies.

In addition to serving as military and religious posts, these shrines also function as symbols of the community's history, values, and identity.

Posuban shrines are usually built at the entrance or middle of a town or village and are considered to be sacred places where the chiefs and elders come to offer prayers, perform rituals, and seek spiritual guidance.

They are also places where the community gathers to celebrate important events such as festivals, weddings, and funerals.

The shrines themselves are characterized by their unique architecture, which features elaborate decorations and sculptures that often depict historical events or legendary figures from Akan folklore as well as scenes from everyday life used to convey moral lessons and values to younger generations.

In addition to their religious and cultural significance, Posuban shrines are also considered to be important historical landmarks that reflect the complex interactions between the Akan people and European colonial powers in Ghana.

Today, many posuban shrines still exist in Ghana and are still used by the Asafo and the local community for religious and cultural ceremonies, they are also important tourist attractions and serve as a reminder of Ghana's rich cultural heritage.

Efforts by the local communities are being made to preserve and promote these unique cultural sites for future generations.

Dontsin No.3 Company - Whale Bonsu Posuban - Anomabu (Obonoma)

Dontsin No.3 Asafo Company Anomabu

Update: 2024

Back in the 1970s UCLA's African Art Scholar Doran Ross took great interest in these structures and began documenting the majority along the coast, I will be revisiting some of the posuban posts to explore the changes in the last 50 years.

No.1 Asafo Pousban in Abura Dunkwa, photo taken by Doran Ross in 1974 (left) and me in 2023

No.1 Tuafo Asafo Pousban in Gomoa Mankessim, photo taken by Doran Ross in 1979 (left) and me in 2024.

This posuban is also called the "cake tower" as according to Asafo members of the community requested the structure to resemble a colorful towering cake in the center of the town. 

It was built by master flag maker and sculpture artist Kwamina Amoaku with the help of local masons and Asafo members in 1977.

Always interesting to see the change in architectural aesthetics reflecting the shifts in time.

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