Traditional Ga family Set Up

The Ga are patrilineal meaning they inherit Through the father. Each of the Ga towns is a group of houses whose members can trace their lineage to the founding member. Each house (We) has its own set of personal names divided into two sets as they rotate between generations- meaning grandfathers usually share the same name as their grandsons. Each house also has its own God or Dzemawon which is usually kept in the main family house (adebɔshia) – this house is usually the oldest and/or original dwelling of each lineage. The family head is usually the oldest family member.

Ga people have also Traditionally been polygamous. In such society the the women and men would live separately – with the exception of young boys who would live with their mothers till they come of age (around 13) These houses were called Adebɔ Shia.

In the men’s compounds the men were from the same house – descending from one man. This is not the case in the women’s house were women of different houses will come together – this is because due to our patrilineal nature women give birth to children from the child’s fathers house not their own. You may on occasion have a woman not related at all to the mother in the house as a result of marriage. However it is very rare that a mother-in-law or husband will request that his wife should live with his mother – unless of course she has no female relatives or such relatives live  in a far away town.
Activities of the Adebɔ Shia

The Men’s Adebɔ Shia

  •  in the men’s compounds you would find mainly adults (the youngest usually 12/13)
  • In this place there is no kitchen as the men don’t cook – their wives do, and if they are not married the mother does
  • All Family ceremonial rituals take place to honour the family God – as all the men were from one house, it was only one god worshipped here
  • Developing the family business so if it is fishing activities like mending if nets will take place in the mens Adebɔ Shia.

The women’s Adebɔ Shia

  • The women after marriage often continue to stay with their mothers. You will often have three or four generations of mothers and daughters in one house.
  • all the cooking and the clothes washing is done in this house
  • There would also be a lot of kids and the worship of a number of family gods
  • Women will also continue their various trades.

Alternative Family set ups

This was not the only family set up traditional to Ga people. For those who could afford it one could have all their wives living under one roof or at least in the same compound.


Men Adebɔ Shia has men from one house, the women from different houses. The men’s houses usually contain family ritual activity whereas the women are more concerned with homemaking eg cooking, cleaning


Social Organization of the Ga people, Margaret Field.  (London, 1940)


Read in Ga

By Naa Adjeley Tsofanye