Focus on Family: Ghana

In August 2018, the World Meeting of Families will take place in Ireland. Over the next number of months, we will explore family life in the 19 countries across the world where the OLA Sisters have a presence. Today we focus on Ghana.

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Sr Lucy Dumenu (inset) and members of Sr Lucy's family during the wedding of her nephew, Robert Louis Dumenu, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Accra last February. Images courtesy of Sr Lucy Dumenu.


Located in West Africa, Ghana shares land borders other countries which also have an OLA presence: Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the east. 

The country is blessed with abundant natural resources. Ghana is world renowned for its gold and cocoa production; oil, diamonds, timber and aluminium are also among Ghana’s main exports.

Ghana became the first African country to gain independence from Great Britain in 1957. It’s population has surged from under six million inhabitants in 1960 to twenty-nine million today. UN figures suggest the country may have upwards of fifty million inhabitants by 2050.

The Volta water system dominates the Ghanaian landscape. The three Volta Rivers [The Red Volta, the White Volta and the Black Volta] rise in the Bobo-Dioulasso highlands of Burkina Faso before converging to form one of the largest manmade reservoirs in the world: Lake Volta. Lake Volta acts as an important transport route for eastern Ghana while acting as a tourist destination and a source power.

Sr.Lucy Dumenu is a native of Hohoe, which lies to the east of Lake Volta. Here Sr. Lucy paints a picture of family life in Ghana.

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Map of Ghana courtesy of


My name is Lucy Vivian Dumenu. I was professed as a OLA Sister in 1985. I had worked in Ghana and Tanzania before beginning my current mission here in Ireland.

I hail from Hohoe, in the Volta Region, and I grew up in a large family of six brothers and one sister.

Growing up was interesting because we did not grow up in one particular place. My family moved around quite a bit as my father would be transferred from one place to another due to the nature of his work. As a result, we benefited a lot from these different cultures and experienced other different environments and people.

Ewe Culture

My family belong to a large group of people called the ‘Ewes’.

The word in the Ewe language for family is ‘fome’ or 'efome’. It literally means ‘relationship’ which is lineage or continuation of a lineage from our ancestors carried on from one generation to the next.

Grandparents in Ewe culture are identified as paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents. Grandparents are revered by all but especially by their children and grandchildren. During festive occasions, grandparents recount lineage, history and notable achievements.

Family customs and traditions vary from family to family. In the Ewe culture, these may also vary in line with beliefs - Christianity, idol worship etc.


The Ewe population is concentrated to the east of Lake Volta in Ghana, southern Togo and a small area of south-west Benin. Image courtesy of

Family Celebrations

There are many family celebrations that take place at various times. The family celebrates childbirth or the naming ceremony to welcome a new-born child into the family.

The main festivals observed in most Christian families are Christmas and Easter. However, since Easter is marked with picnics, most Ewe families observe the Easter holidays as a homecoming culture. Once regularly embraced, this culture promotes family unity and wellbeing.

Weddings are big family occasions too.  They consist of two parts: the customary or traditional ceremony and the church wedding itself. In Ghana, the traditional or customary rites are performed first before the church wedding. The marriage is recognised once the traditional rites are accepted by the two families and performed. It is an agreement between the two families to join the two who are coming together as one.

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Sr. Lucy's nephew, Robert Louis Dumenu (second from left) during the traditional marriage ceremony. Image courtesy of Sr. Lucy Dumenu.


Common family challenges

In Africa, most families are very close to their extended family members, who offer companionship, advice, support, and motivation when the need arises. There is always that strong support even when there are challenges and together are able to solve them.

Challenges faced by families in the present circumstances are numerous but they also vary from family to family. The major problems for most families would be finances. Areas that serve as a challenge to unity and progress of some families centre around land issues or litigations where families inherit land from the lineage which could result in disputes, mistrust and disunity.

Others challenges arise around chieftaincy lines or gates. Chieftaincy lines or gates are the lineage or channels through which chiefs are made - the royal families where chiefs are chosen to lead the people. While the chieftaincy line passes through just one family, litigations for long durations can ensue to see which member of a particular family should occupy the role of chieftain.

Sometimes you may also find two families that inherit such titles which means a decision needs to be made as to who occupies the vacant seat. These sometimes bring succession disputes and misunderstandings.


An example of the 'Kente' weaving. It is believed that this style of weaving may have originated with the Ewe people. Image courtesy of


My Family

My parents were married in faith for over fifty years before we lost our Dad, and later our Mum after a period of ten years. Love and unity bonded us. Like all other families, parents also faced many challenges but we hardly knew about them because they were able to resolve their issues without involving us. We were brought up knowing God, and practicing our faith together as a family, going to church together and sometimes praying together at home. We saw our parents living out what they believed in. We are all still following the faith, in a very strong way each in his or herown life because the seed was sown in us and we nourished our faith in God.

In terms of my 'OLA family', my mission is to see to the care of the elderly and sick OLA Sisters who worked tirelessly in Africa and are now back at home. It is indeed a privilege for me to make myself available to caring for these wonderful women who saw it necessary in those days to respond to the call for the missions in Africa! For which today I am also an OLA Sister!


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Sr. Lucy Dumenu pictured at the 2017 SMA-OLA pilgrimage to Knock.


WMOF Hopes

The upcoming World Meeting of Families [WMOF] is about sharing experiences and learning from each other. It is my hope that the WMOF would be a success and that families would truly share experiences and learn during the meeting while dedicating their lives and families to God and allowing God to lead them.

Families need to live in love and unity. We must learn everyday to forgive one another. There is no problem-free family. It is about dealing with family issues in the right way. Families must be built on God and depend on God.

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Sr. Lucy's nephew, Robert Louis Dumenu (second from right) during his marriage ceremony at Corpus Christi Church, Accra last February. Image courtesy of Sr. Lucy Dumenu.



Click here to view other Focus on Family reports.

Click here to visit the website of the OLA Province of Ghana.

Click here to visit the World Meeting of Familes 2018 website.