Money talks: a multimodal ethnographic study of Ghana’s currency
The purpose of this study was to unearth the hidden messages communicated on Ghana’s currency – the Ghana cedi’s coins and banknotes – outside their monetary value spelled by the number on them. The study employed the theoretical frameworks of ethnography of communication and multimodality, with the aim of unearthing the different modes of communication used on Ghana’s currency outside their monetary value,as well as the hidden messages behind these modes of communication. The study employed a purposive sampling of Ghana’s cedi in current use, thereby making the study synchronic, as opposed to a diachronic one. Findings reveal that the modes of communication employed on Ghana’s cedi coins and banknotes are shape, colour, national symbols, national buildings, national cash crops and minerals, national heroes and heroines and national monuments. Behind these modes are the messages of Ghana’s history such as her struggle for independence, her culture such as espoused in music, her economy as espoused in her cash crops such as cocoa and coffee, and in her minerals such as gold, diamonds, and bauxite among others. Homage is also paid to national heroes and heroines such as The Big Six and Yaa Asantewa on Ghana’s cedi. National monuments such as The Independence Arch and the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum remind Ghanaians and others of the nation’s struggle for independence and the struggle’s leader Kwame Nkrumah. This study shows that beside the monetary value of Ghana’s currency, and by extension the currencies of the world, valuable information is communicated.
Keywords: communication; culture; currency; ethnography of communication; Ghana; identity; multimodality