Beads play an important role in West African life. They are worn to signify special occasions, wealth, and status. They indicate stages in life, such as motherhood or mourning; and they become a symbol of office for chiefs, traditional priests, and other figures in the community.
Beads were used in the barter for slaves, ivory, palm oil and gold in previous centuries. Some beads are imbued with special powers and some tribes believe their ancestors sprang from beads.
In Ghana, beads are made from recycled glass, brass, bauxite, shells and seeds.
It is a great field trip to go to one of the many bead making sites in the Krobo area. Beads from all over the world are available in the markets here.
An excellent book on beads is called The World of Beads. (see Travel and Accommodation section for detailed information.)