THE IMPORTANCE OF LEATHER MAKING TO THE ECONOMY OF PRE-COLONIAL

In the Savannah regions of pre-colonial Ghana, there were two major occupations the people engaged in, which were, animal rearing and farming. As part of the animal husbandryengaged in, the hide of the animals was processed into leather for various uses.
The first step was to slaughter the animals and to skillfully remove the skin which served as the main raw material for the local leather industry. After the skin was scrapped off of all fur to obtain the leather, it was tanned, after which the leather was ready to be used.

IMPORTANCE OF LEATHER

  • Production of leather products: The leather industry was important because it provided foot-wears, bags and other items for local use. The leather was also used to producecasings for amulets, which the traditional people believed brought them protection from spiritual harm.
  • As a source of employment: The production of leather products was a source of employment for the pre-colonial people of Ghana. The raw leather was sold to producers of leather products and those who turned the tanned leather into items of beauty and essence, sold the items in return for money. In short, they earned money from their activities.
  • Emergence of leather merchants: Another clear importance of the pre-colonial leather industry was that there were people who did not really produce leather or make any items of leather, but who also benefited from the leather industry. These were the merchants of leather. They traded in the hides, the tanned leather and the items that were produced from the leather. They took the items from the areas of production to areas where they were needed, moving from one local market to another.
  • Contribution to social life: One of the main recreational activities of the pre-colonial Ghanaian was drumming and dancing. The various traditional drums were made from leather and these drums were used during recreational and cultural events. They were used at funerals, naming ceremonies, marriage ceremonies and many others. In fact, no societies in pre-colonial Ghana existed without a drum. Leather was part of the components that were used make those drums and that made leather very important in their lives.
  • Religious importance: Leather also constituted an integral aspect of the religion of the inhabitants of pre-colonial Ghana. Leather was used in the production ofamulets for the people. The people believed that if they had those amulets on them, they were protected from harm. The amulets were placed in the leather casing before they were worn on their bodies, esp