Today we are going to continue the talk of farming, and I am going to join different talks together so that if God agrees, we will finish the talk of farming. What talks are these? As I have told you that there can be someone who farms groundnuts, have I talked about how Dagbamba farm groundnuts? It is now that groundnuts do a lot of work in Dagbon here. And what is adding is the talk about how women make shea butter, and I will add it to the talk. As for shea butter, I have already told you that it does a lot of work here. And again, this kpalgu we put in our soup, it does a lot of work, and it has a lot of work, too. I will join it and add. And what follows is the talk on how we Dagbamba raise animals, and if I am able to finish it, it will be good. These animals, as we are farming, they are standing as the profit of our farming. The one who looks after animals is the one who eats and is satisfied. Why do I say he eats and is satisfied? If you have people with you, and they are farming for you, you will eat and leave food. What you eat and leave, maybe it will catch the extent to sell and get money for a cow. If you get the money and buy the cow, you will keep it just in case something should happen to you. And so I will follow it and go.
These groundnuts, as we were sitting in the olden days, we didn’t have time for farming groundnuts. It is the vegetable oil mills they have built that have brought it: that is why they have started farming groundnuts. But we knew groundnuts. I told you that Dagbamba didn’t know how to farm rice, and we have just started farming it. But I want to tell you that we all grew up and met the farming of groundnuts, every Dagbana man, woman or child. Truly, as we were farming groundnuts, we were not farming it plenty; it was just a little. But we have known groundnuts for a long time. Groundnuts, yams, millet, they are all on the same way in Dagbon: none of them is a new thing. As for rice, some people died and they didn’t know rice, or you will call the name of rice and someone will say he doesn’t know it. And so I think in my heart that rice has come here from some town. But as for groundnuts, we all knew it. We and the Gurunsis, the Mossis, the Mamprusis, the Nanumbas, the Kusasis, the Walas, the Dagartis, the Ashantis, the Chembas, Gonjas, Lobis, Chekosis, Bimobas, all of us knew groundnuts. Groundnuts are not a new thing in Ghana.
And the work of groundnuts is that when the rains come, you go to the batandali and make long ridges and plant corn, and when the corn grows to about half a foot high, you can sow groundnuts inside it. And you leave it and you farm another place again for the groundnuts alone. As for the groundnut farm, you will repair it only once, because it runs on the ground, and when it has run small, grass will not get a place to stand again. And it’s not the corn farm alone where you will plant groundnuts, because the batandali doesn’t have one talk. Inside all farming, groundnuts will grow. Some people even put groundnuts on the sides of their yam mounds, and the groundnuts will not disturb the yams. And so groundnuts are like beans. When they plant beans, they can mix it with corn or guinea corn and plant it in one hole. And so as they plant beans with something, beans doesn’t have its own planting alone. Where the land is good, somebody can even farm and mix corn, groundnuts, guinea corn, and beans. If you farm like that, it will all grow. It is only now that someone will farm groundnuts alone, and nothing else will be in the farm. And someone will farm groundnuts with other crops.
Groundnuts take four months to become ripe. At that time, if you are sitting with people, you will call women and children to come in the morning to go and remove the groundnuts. They will go, and those who will be picking will be picking, and those who will be collecting the groundnuts will be taking them and putting them under a tree. If a woman has children, the children will also collect, and some will be looking after the very small children. As they are removing the groundnuts, if a woman fills two calabashes and sends them to the owner of the groundnuts, then if she fills another one again, that one is for her. If she is not able to fill two calabashes, then the owner of the groundnuts will collect the full one and leave the one that is not full for her.
In the olden days when we were farming groundnuts, after they picked them, when it was morning and they were going to the farm, they would fetch and roast the groundnuts. And again, if they liked, they would boil them, and you would be removing the shells and eating them. When you finished eating some groundnuts, you had strength to farm. That was one work of groundnuts in the olden days.
But we also had other work groundnuts were doing for us. Women were roasting groundnuts and selling. They would take a kind of red stone and knock it to make something like sand, and they would take the inside part of the groundnuts with the red skins and put all in a pot on fire, and add the red sand, and take a broken calabash and be stirring it. And the red sand would become hot and cover the groundnuts and help to roast the groundnuts well. When it was finished, they would separate the groundnuts and take them on our flat pan, the pɔŋ, to sell. In the olden days, they were selling it for five cowries until these half-pennies came out, and we called it sinʒee, red-roasted groundnuts. When you rub it with your hands, the red skin will come off, and the inside will remain, and you will be eating it like that, and you will know that groundnuts are sweet.
And again, in the olden days, when you farmed groundnuts, you would measure it into baskets and sell to women. The women who were buying were those who were going to make kpalgu, and that is the same thing the Hausas call dawadawa. This kpalgu or dawadawa is what we put inside soup to make it nice. When the women are going to prepare kpalgu, they pound it, and they remove the shells of the groundnuts, and they will add the groundnuts and mix with the kpalgu. And groundnuts have been doing this work in Dagbon for a very long time.
If not that they are roasting the groundnuts or adding the groundnuts to kpalgu, then they will crack the groundnuts and remove the shells, and they will grind the groundnuts and use it to cook soup, and it is very sweet. If they want, they will mix it with bira — hibiscus leaves — and it is also a very nice soup. You will eat it and not leave some for your mother’s child. And this was how we Dagbamba also knew groundnuts. And so in the olden days, we were using groundnuts to add to kpalgu, and for cooking soup, and for eating alone.
And it came to the time we knew kulikuli and the making of oil. The time when we started using groundnuts to make oil, that was the time the farming of groundnuts became plenty, and truly, it was the Hausas who brought the making of groundnut oil here. We didn’t know of it. You remove the shell and roast the groundnuts. Then you take your hand and squeeze the groundnuts to remove the red skin, and you will blow and sieve the skin with air. Then you go and grind the groundnuts and come, and then boil hot water and pour on it, and the oil will melt into the water. The oil will separate and stand at one part, and they will pour the oil to one side. And by then the groundnuts will also catch one another like a paste, and they will take a flat stone or piece of wood, and they will roll the groundnuts into long pieces, and they will put salt and pepper inside and fry them. That is what we call kulikuli.
And it was the Mossis and Hausas who also showed us this kulikuli and groundnut oil. In the olden days when people were walking to the South on foot, the Mossis who were traveling and passing Dagbon used to carry kulikuli. And Dagbamba women got to know how to make kulikuli. The way Dagbamba are making it now, that is not the way the Mossis brought it. They were making very large ones. And there were some Hausa people who used to mix with the Mossi travelers to pass Dagbon. They moved with donkeys and cows. They used to beat animal skin to make it very soft like cloth, and they wore it. It was softer than the red skin that the cobblers make. And they used some of this skin to make something like a bag to carry water; they would put a stick through it and hang it on their shoulders. They showed us how to remove oil from groundnuts. And so it was from the Mossis and the Hausas that we knew these things. I was a young boy when it came like that, and so kulikuli has just come.
And it came again, and the agriculture people brought their groundnuts, and the agriculture groundnuts were different. It was the same groundnuts, but theirs grow plenty, and theirs brought forth more than ours. And because our local groundnuts are not as good, we have left them. And the groundnuts the agriculture people brought collected all of Dagbon, and now our local groundnuts are not farmed much, and I can even say that they are dead on the part of our Dagbamba farming. The agriculture people’s groundnuts are three types: there is a small one we call aburikacha; and we call one kpopila, and we call another one simpuporgu. These are the ones we farm now.
And so groundnuts are an old thing in Dagbon here, and I think in my heart that this time we are sitting, groundnuts have got more profit than rice. As for rice, there will be a time when everybody will have rice and no one will want it again. But as for groundnuts, they cannot farm groundnuts and the government will not buy it for the oil mills or the people won’t want to buy it. And so the oil alone is money. And kulikuli is also money. And so as these agricultural groundnuts have come, we don’t become fed up farming groundnuts. The time I was still young, I myself used to take a gallon of groundnuts from Nanton and come here and sell it for five shillings, and go back home. If it was a market day, I would carry two gallons and sell them for ten shillings, and in those days ten shillings was a very heavy money. And the time I am talking about, some of the villagers in Dagbon didn’t even know rice, but every village person and every town person knew groundnuts. They have got profit.
And so the way we farm rice, that is how some people also farm groundnuts. The same way we borrow money and farm rice, some people also borrow money and farm groundnuts. If the groundnuts grow, the groundnut farmer will take the groundnuts to the vegetable oil mills and sell. If it is seeds, you will buy them from the vegetable oil mill store from the agriculture people, and the price will not be high. And if it is selling the groundnuts, as we are sitting, a bag of groundnuts with the shells removed is four hundred cedis [approximately $30 in 1979]. Has it not got money? And so Dagbamba don’t joke with groundnuts. Groundnuts are not a new thing in Dagbon, but it is now that groundnuts have got a lot of profit in our farming. That is how it is.
Before we knew the making of groundnut oil, shea butter was our cooking oil. If you boil beans, you will cut a small piece of shea butter and put into it, and if you eat it, it will be very sweet. Do you see maha? Do you see kpaakulo? Do you see kooshe? Do you see fried yams? Even now, this shea butter is what they use to fry it. They use shea butter to fry everything. I think that you can see for yourself: even those people who sell kebabs, they put shea butter on them. And truly, the work of shea butter in this Dagbon is very, very great. In the olden days, we even used shea butter for our lanterns. If you hear someone talk about the lantern we call firla, then shea butter was inside. Formerly, we would buy about ten pesewas of shea butter and put it in our lanterns to light our rooms. Even up to this day, we have some people who still use shea butter in their lanterns. And so I am going to talk about how they make shea butter, and the work of shea butter in Dagbon here.
When they want to get the shea nuts, they find a tree we call taaŋa. That is the shea nut tree. It is a big tree. They go to this tree at the time when its leaves are spreading out. If they are going to farm and they burn the bush and the fire comes to burn the tree, it will not bear fruit again. And so they go to those trees that are standing in the bush, and these shea nut trees are in different places. It is not everywhere that you can find the shea nuts. There are some places that don’t have any tree with the shea nuts. And where they are, and how the picking of the shea nuts is, it is not only the people of that town who are the ones who pick them. In Dagbon here, if you move from your place to another person’s place to do something, no one will ask you anything about that. As this Tamale is sitting, women can get up from Tamale here and say that they are going to Nanton to pick shea nuts. That is how they go out from the towns and go to other towns. If God likes them, some of them can get about four bags before the shea nut trees will stop bearing fruit. And others get them in baskets.
The time the new leaves spread out, you will see some small round things come out, and in two months time, they will turn into big ones. By three months, they are well, and by four months those which came out first start to become ripe. And in five months time, every shea nut is ripe. The time the small nuts are coming out, it is left with about two months before the rain will start. But if it is the rainy season, the tree will not bear fruit. By the time they are ripening, and the time they are picking them, it is already the rainy season. That is the reason why I told you they can start picking them in four months or so.
When the shea nuts are ripe, the women get up early in the morning, by five o’clock. They always lead one another. Sometimes they walk in groups, and one might be carrying three calabashes. And some people carry four. Some of them carry baskets. The time they reach the shea nut trees, they separate from one another and spread themselves to go among the shea nut trees. As the wind is blowing the shea nuts down, the women squat under the trees and pick up the shea nuts.
Truly, there are many things that eat the shea nuts. Birds eat the shea nuts. And bats too eat them. The shea nuts on the tree, or those that have just fallen, we call them tama. If the shea nut falls, within two days’ time it will start to rot and leave the nut inside. And the one which rots and leaves the nut, we call it kpiliŋga [plural: kpehi]. At that time, they will go to the bush and be picking it from under the trees. If they come across the one which is not rotten, they will put it at one place. That one has many uses, and if they take it to the house like that, they can eat it, or they can take it to the market and sell.
But as for the rotten ones, they pour them down in the house, and they get sticks and cover them. If somebody goes to pick them for four days, she will stop and cook the ones she has got. She will go and get firewood, and get a very big pot and put it on fire. She will collect the shea nuts and put them in the pot, and add firewood so that the fire gets up. Let’s say that a woman wants to boil the shea nuts. She can start boiling them early in the morning; she will put the shea nuts in the pot and add water and make the fire. By ten o’clock, she will remove the shea nuts from the fire. Then she will sweep inside the compound and spread the shea nuts in the sun. If she spreads the shea nuts by ten o’clock, then by three or four o’clock, if you come to see the shea nuts, they look just red, and all the water in the shea nuts has dried up. She will collect all and put them down in a corner, and the next day she will spread them in the sun again. But if there is more open space in the compound, she will not collect them: if there is space where they are drying, and they will not spoil, she can let them dry there for about three days. Then she collects them and puts them down.
At that time, she will go back to the farm or the bush and start picking them again. As she is going to the bush and gathering the shea nuts again, when she gets home she will be putting them down. And in the night, she will get the ones she has already boiled and dried, and she will sit down, and she will take a stone and start breaking them. She will throw away the shells and leave the nuts themselves, and within three days she can get about three cans of nuts. After she breaks them, she will spread them in the sun again, but at that time she will spread them in the compound and not anywhere outside. If not that, goats and sheep will come to eat the nuts. The time the shea nut is inside its shell, the goats or sheep don’t know what it is, and they don’t eat it. As she has broken the shells, she will spread them in the compound for about six days. And the ones she has been picking in the bush, by that time, they have become more, and she will boil them and do all the same things to them. That is how she will be doing up to the time the trees stop bearing fruit. If they start picking the shea nuts, sometimes it will take them a month or one and a half months. Those who start early will pick them for one and a half months, and those who don’t start early will pick them for a month.
And what picking the shea nuts has, it has some very dangerous things. I told you that there are many different animals that eat the shea nuts, and snakes also eat them. And so during the time the women are picking the shea nuts, snakes bite them a lot. Sometimes a woman will go for shea nuts and die in the bush because of a snakebite. And again, some of the trees are far into the bush, and a woman can go and get lost. And so there are different dangers in picking the shea nuts. And on the part of getting lost, there are some places in the bush where you will go, and you don’t have to be calling one another. If you want to call your friend, you won’t call her name: you will only make your voice high and call “Ooo-o!” And she will also say “Ooo-o!” You won’t call her “Ayishetu” or “Sana”: you cannot do that. There are some places in the bush like that. The reason why you don’t call your friend at those places is that there are certain places in the bush where some spirits live we call yoɣsi [singular: yoɣu]. They are like dwarfs; that is how they are. The moment you call your friend and call her name, this yoɣu will answer, “Yes. Come.” The yoɣu will change its voice to become like your friend’s voice, and you will be following it thinking that it is your friend, but you will not see her. You will be hearing the voice and following the voice into the bush, and you will get lost. That is the reason why they don’t call one another if they are at those places. And so where they pick the shea nuts, truly, there are dangers.
And so after they finish picking all the shea nuts, and they boil them and spread them in the sun, and when the shea nuts are dried, they will break them. After that, they put them into bags, and the one who will sell them will be selling. And the one who doesn’t want to sell, she will use the shea nuts to make shea butter. This shea butter does a lot of work in Dagbon here, and the woman who has got her shea nuts and she has been keeping them, by that time, she will prepare to make shea butter.
If a woman wants to make shea butter, she will first get her shea nuts, the ones that were whole with the fruit, that is, the ones we call tama. She has boiled them and dried them already, and she will bring all of them to the house and spread them on the floor of the compound. Then she will get a very thick stick, something like a cudgel, and she will get a very wide stone and put it on the ground. If they have cemented the compound, and she knows that if she puts that big stone there and hits the nuts, the floor will not break, then she can do that. But if she knows that the floor will break, she has to get something to put under the stone. At that time, she will sit down and take the cudgel, pick about five of the shea nuts and put them on the stone and hit them, and then put them aside. If she tries to hit them without boiling or drying them, they will scatter. But as she has done that, she can be knocking them, and they will crack and separate. This is how she will continue doing up to the time she has finished a bag or basket. If she can sit for a whole day to do one full bag or basket, then she will do it. If she has children to help her, sometimes the children will be around her and cracking the shea nuts. Sometimes the children will fall asleep on the shea nuts, and she will carry the children to the room, and then come back and finish cracking the rest.
After breaking them, she will cook them. The woman who is making the shea butter will get a clay bowl call laa, and she will get a frying pan. She will make fire and put the pan on top of the fire, and the fire will heat it. Then she will take a full bowl of the broken shea nuts and put them in the hot frying pan. She doesn’t add water, but she will be stirring the shea nuts because she doesn’t want them to burn. If she continues stirring like that, it will come to a time when you will see everything change, and the nuts are red, and oil is coming out of them. Then she will start removing them from the fire and putting them in other bowls. After frying the shea nuts in the frying pan, she will get a very large stone again, a grinding stone, and she will grind the shea nuts. I’m talking olden days talks. If she doesn’t have a grinding stone, and she pounds them in a mortar, it can also do. Then she will collect it, and put it into big calabashes.
As for this work, the women always help one another. Sometimes four women will come to add to this one woman to help make shea butter for her. And about four or five of them can sit to make it. They will all have their calabashes, big ones. After they grind the shea nuts to become somehow smooth, they will take what they have put in the calabash and put water and start stirring it with their arms: from the hand up to the elbow is inside. They will be stirring and adding water little by little, not too much. The time they started stirring the ground shea nuts in the calabash, if you come to see it, it is just like Ovaltine or Milo in water; the whole thing is just like that, but very thick. It’s not white or black or any other color. And so when they start and they are adding the water, it is something like black but it is not black, but getting to some time you will see it changing to white. That is the shea butter coming out. When it is coming to be white, the woman will add water again. That is how they will be adding water and stirring with their arms until the water comes to be more than the shea butter. At that time, the shea butter will spread and come to the top, and leave the water under. And by then, the shea butter has come out. The one stirring her calabash, when it comes like that, she will be using her hand to collect the shea butter that is on top of the water, and she will leave the water in the calabash. And she will put the shea butter in a pan, and it is white and very soft.
If they get the shea butter out, then the water and the shea nuts remaining in the water, we call it kpambirgu. This kpambirgu, some people pour it away, but some people use it on the walls of their houses. If you spread it on the wall, and it rains, the water cannot get into it. And so as it is something from oil, it doesn’t fear water. Rain used to disturb many people on the part of their house walls, and so some of them will spread the kpambirgu on their walls. And those who don’t have any use for it will pour it away.
After she has collected the shea butter from the water, she will get a very large and nice pot that has no dirt inside it, and she will make a fire again. She will put the pot on the fire and pour the shea butter into it, and it will start melting. The time it all melts and it starts to boil, you will see that everything is just oil, like any oil that they put on fire. From the time she puts it on the fire until the final stirring, it will take her about two hours. At that time it will turn to be pure shea butter, and there will be nothing again. The reason why she lets it stay on the fire for two hours or more is that if she doesn’t let it boil well, it will not be good. And so she will boil it, and when it finishes, she will put it into calabashes and let it stand. Getting to evening time, it will be cool. You know, there are some types of oil, if you put that oil on fire, it will melt, and if you let it cool for some time it will come to be solid again. And so as she has let it stand, it is now a bit cool, and she will pour it into a pan and get a stick and stir it again. And as the air is blowing it and she is stirring it, it will start becoming a bit solid. And she will get another pan and put water, and then she will take her hand or take saɣbɛɣu, our big ladle with a handle, and she will cut some of the shea butter and put it into the water beside her. If she does that, in about twenty minutes time, the shea butter will become solid, and the shea butter is at one place, and the water is at one place. She will get something to fetch the water out, and the shea butter is remaining. By that time the shea butter is fully cool, and she can take her hand and hold it.
A woman can be selling shea butter in her house, or she can take this shea butter to the market and sell it, and you can see them in their line in the market. In the olden days, if a woman was selling shea butter, she would cut one handful of shea butter and sell it for ten cowries. It came to ten pesewas, and it came to the time when there was no ten-pesewa shea butter, and some sold it for twenty or forty pesewas, and then coming to this time when everything is expensive. And the one who doesn’t want to sell it in small pieces, she will get a very big calabash and collect the shea butter into the calabash. If the calabash becomes full, she will leave it, and she will sit and look at it. The reason why she stops and looks at it is that if she pours the oil into the calabash, she has to wait so that it will shrink down a bit when it is cold. And she will pour more, and it will go down. And when the calabash is full, we call it kpaŋmani, a full calabash of shea butter. Sometimes one woman will get three or four calabashes of shea butter, and if she wants, at that time she can sell it like that. And if she wants, she can put it down for some time. If she sees that the shea butter is not getting a high price, she can put it down until the time the price has become higher, and then she can bring it out and sell. And the one who is selling the shea butter in small amounts, she is always selling her shea butter, because every day people will come to buy twenty pesewas or ten pesewas of it to go and make their stew for yams or rice. The one who makes the calabashes does not cut it to sell because she doesn’t want to do that, but the one who is selling in pieces, she will be doing it like that. Those who make shea butter in calabashes, they have different sizes of calabashes: one is bigger than the other. For example, the medium-sized calabash, about ten of them could go into a bag like the type we use for rice or corn, but the large one cannot go into a bag like that. But it’s not that they put them into bags when they sell it like that. They have different sizes of calabash, and so how they sell it is different.
In the olden days, if they were going to carry the shea butter to the South, they could put ten into bags and sew the bags. I have told you that the Ashanti people wanted it, even more than slaves. As for the Ashantis, I can tell you that half of them smear it on their bodies as pomade. And they eat it too: they can put it on a fire and use it to make beans as we also do, and they make stews with it, and they use it to fry plantains or cocoyams or cassava. They use it to cook all types of food and eat. As we used to take the shea butter to sell to them, we had something we call waaka: it’s something like a net to hold calabashes, and it’s woven from rope. You could put about ten of the small-to-medium sized calabashes inside it. They would put the shea butter into this waaka, and donkeys would carry it. If they were going on a long journey, they would let the donkey carry about three on one side and three on the other side. And they would take the shea butter to the Ashanti land and sell it to the Ashantis. Sometimes, if they reached the Ashanti town, one of the Ashantis might not have money but would have cola, and the Ashanti would say that they should give him one calabash, and he would give them cola. And we called such people those who took shea butter and exchanged it for cola. As they were trading that type of trading, sometimes they would get one thousand pieces of cola for one side of the donkey, and one thousand pieces for the other side, that is, two thousand pieces. The donkey would be carrying it, and you the owner would be following it, and you would be going and sleeping in other towns before you came to reach here. When they were trading like that, they used to go in groups. Sometimes you could see a group with about sixty donkeys.
The Mossi people, that was how they were also going, and one person might own four or five donkeys, and another person might own six or ten. As for the Mossi people, they were making this type of trading plenty. If they were passing here, they had their road, and they called it the “Mossi way.” But it wasn’t every day they were passing. They had a time to pass here when they were going to the South, and they had a time when they would pass here again. In the olden days, if the Mossis were passing here and you saw their donkeys carrying the shea butter, you would know that the Mossis have shea butter more than we Dagbamba. The Mossis and the Mamprusis, they have shea butter plenty. And the Gonjas also have some, but the Gonjas don’t know how to make it as nicely as we Dagbamba or the Mossis and the Mamprusis. And so that was what the Mossis were doing: they were carrying shea butter to the South and getting cola to take to their Mossi land. That was how they were trading with the shea butter, and this is what I know about it.
And again, shea butter has some talk on the part of medicine. It can happen that somebody will give you medicine, and he will tell you not to eat shea butter. Or someone will give you medicine in a powder, and he will tell you to melt shea butter on it and be smearing the medicine on your body. Apart from that, if we Dagbamba give birth to a child, and they want to cut the navel, they don’t cut the whole navel. We Dagbamba cut and leave a small piece that will be like my finger, and it will be lying on the child’s stomach. They will get a small piece of broken calabash and put a little shea butter into it, get a fire and melt it, and put the melted shea butter on the navel where they have cut. We Dagbamba continue putting shea butter on the navel, and the navel will become dry and will fall away. And the time a child is still small, when they bathe the child, they will get a small bit of shea butter and give it to the child to drink when they finish bathing the child. And they will take shea butter and smear it on the body of the child, too. All this is the work of shea butter. And so shea butter seems to resemble cola because it has many different works. But its works are more than cola, because here, the people who eat shea butter are more than the people who chew cola. And so shea butter does many more things for us than cola. And this is how it is.
As for this kpalgu, I’m going to show you about it. It is the Hausas who call it dawadawa, but we Dagbamba call it kpalgu. The work of kpalgu in Dagbon here: when they have the kpalgu, if they are cooking saɣim, they will cut some kpalgu and put it inside the soup. If they are cooking rice, they put it inside the stew. If it is dafaduka, they put it inside. As for us Dagbamba, anything they call soup, there is kpalgu inside it. This is the work of kpalgu. In the olden days, someone who could not get even fish could take kpalgu and pound it and put it inside soup. It is very nice. Those of us who know kpalgu soup, if there is no kpalgu in the soup, we will know it. But it’s not that if there is no kpalgu, we don’t cook soup. There are some people who don’t like kpalgu because it smells. But to us, it adds to the soup. And even the Southerners, many of them like it.
The dawadawa or kpalgu comes from the doo tree. The tree standing outside your window is that type of tree. Its time is when the wind wants to get up and blow, and the heat is also getting up. And so the kpalgu tree, when it is going to bear fruit, it wants wind and heat. At that time, the wind and the heat will be arguing: when there is warmth today, tomorrow there will be wind. At that time you will see a small part of the fruit coming out, and it will come out until it becomes round and big like the size of balls children play with. It will be there and you will see that it will spread and become red. Going to two or three days, you’ll see some flowers like spots on the plain part, and we call them dokul’ ʒim. Going to a week, there will be twenty or thirty small flowers on the ball. In about five days, some parts of it will be falling on the ground, and you won’t see the flowers again. It will leave only a small plain round ball. It’s going to bring forth its children, and at that time we call them doozaba. They will be about a foot long, and hanging and increasing, and you’ll see that there will be small, flat seeds inside them. By then, as the air is hot and blowing, it will be drying the fruit. When the pods are dried like that, we call them dori.
In Dagbon here, on the part of chieftaincy, there are some village chiefs who are for this dori. In Tamale here, Wulshe-Naa is the one who removes the fruit from the kpalgu tree, and if anyone goes to remove them, Wulshe-Naa will catch that person. It is not only one chief who has the kpalgu trees. Almost all the chiefs have their dori. You can’t count them. It is only the chief of the village or town who knows the extent of his land. If a chief’s villages are up to fifty, every village has the section of where his trees are. And so you cannot just enter somebody’s land and take the dori like that. They will catch you and send you to the police, and the owner of the trees will ask you, “Were you the one who bought this chieftaincy for me, and now you are coming to pluck the dori?” The chief who is for the dori, it is the women who are in his house who will do its work.
When they are going for the dori, they get a long stick and tie some iron to it and use it to pull the dori from the tree. And they tie it and take it home. When the women in the chief’s house open the fruit, you’ll see that inside there is some like yellow powder along with the seeds. We call it doozim. It is very sweet. You can eat it or some mix it with water and drink it. They remove the doozim and the seeds from the pods. As for the pods without the seeds, when they are dried, we call them dasandi, and they also have use on the part of repairing our house walls. As I have told you about kpambirgu, its work is just for the outside walls. Some people spread cow dung. But dasandi has more use. It is for the floor, inside the room, in the compound. When you plaster the room, that is what you will use on it, and it will look as if you have painted it. And so it is standing just like paint. If you enter anybody’s room and you see the way they have spread the dasandi there, you will have appetite for it. It will hold strongly. And the floor and the outside, too, they use it there, and it will be the same. In the olden days, when we didn’t know cement and we were building our houses, then use dasandi on all the walls. If you are going to pound the yard inside the compound for night-time sitting so that the yard will be nice, you will spread dasandi until the yard becomes brown, and it will hold it well. To prepare the dasandi, you will soak them for a long time, and the mixture will ferment. At that time you will see the oil is brown. Women will fetch it and come outside the house and start spreading it on the walls. It will help to hold the walls strong.
And so they will put the pods aside for the dasandi, and they will put the doozim in a mortar and pound it, and it will separate so that they will remove the flour. They will put the flour at one place, and the seeds at another place, and take the seeds to the river and wash them. All the yellow part will be cleaned away, and they will dry the seeds, and we call the dried seeds of the kpalgu tree zuuna. These zuuna, somebody who has them, if he wants to sell, he will give them to the women in his house to take them to the market. And somebody who has a family will call his people, and take a bowl and measure for everyone, and leave some and put it down. And if there are some remaining, the women will take them to sell. And other women who want them will be buying them in the market either to sell them themselves or to use them to make kpalgu in their house.
Those who get the dried seeds of the kpalgu like that will take them and boil them. As for the boiling of kpalgu, its work looks like the cooking of pito, but the work of kpalgu is more difficult. Four days will not do. As for kpalgu, if it goes quickly, it will be one week before it becomes kpalgu. In the morning they will put it on the fire, and it will be on the fire until the next day. And they will pour out the water. We call that water zilimbɔŋ, and for us Dagbamba, in the olden days and up to now, that was our medicine for many things. If somebody’s stomach was paining him, he could fetch some of it and mix it with water and drink. If his body was paining him, he would say, “Let me get some zilimbɔŋ and smear it here.” When it stands like that for about four days, it smells, but somebody would smear it for about a month, and it was our medicine on the part of our bodies.
As they are boiling the kpalgu, when they wash it in the morning, they will put it on fire again until daybreak. They will be doing that until it is well-cooked. Then they use sand to remove the coat of the seeds. They put the seeds and the sand into a mortar and pound it all. When they finish pounding it, they take a calabash they have opened holes inside, like a sieve. They put all inside and pour water through it, and they will be mixing it, and you will see the sand going out, leaving the seeds on top. At that time the seeds are clean. Then they take the seeds and add water and put on fire to boil them again. It will all cook and cook and become soft. And they will pour it into a calabash, and take taŋkoro leaves and cover it, and put it in a room. It can be there like that for about four days, and it will come to rot, and it will be black, and all the room will smell. At that time it is dead, and you will see it and not think that it can do any work. The scent will not be like any scent you have ever smelled.
And at that time the women will take it and bring it to the compound into the sun. They will sweep the compound and sprinkle ashes on the ground, and sweep again, and the ashes will make the ground white. They will pour the kpalgu down, and use a knife to be spreading it and drying it. As they dry it, it doesn’t dry completely: it will stick together a bit, and they will collect it like that. The next day they will put it into a mortar and pound it. If they want, they will add groundnuts that have been shelled and well-cooked, and pound the groundnuts together with the kpalgu. And they will remove it and come and sit down, and be cutting some and using the hand to roll it inside a calabash, and it will become a round black ball. When they make it round like that in the calabash, they take a ball in the hand and use a stick to polish it. They will be turning it and using the stick to smooth any place where there is a hole. When they finish polishing it, you will see that the ball is black and shining. Then they will put it in the sun to dry again. They can bring it out from the room during the daytime for about four days until it is well dried. If they don’t do that, when the weather is cold, moisture can enter the kpalgu, and it can easily spoil. When they are putting it in the sun like that, if a vulture is sitting on top of a building and it sees the kpalgu spread in the yard, it will come down and eat it. If the woman just walks away to the room, the vulture will fly from it place and take its long mouth and be eating the kpalgu. And you would hear people shouting, “A vulture is eating the kpalgu! Drive it away!” And it would fly away. The time I was a child, when my mother brought out the kpalgu into the sun, she would put me in the yard to be sitting down and watching. They would spread a mat for me to sit down there, and they would give me a stick. I used to watch it like that. That is how we were doing it. And so when it is well dried, at that time, that is the true kpalgu. This is what they do to make kpalgu, and the work of kpalgu can take a week or more. The one who is going to sell will take the kpalgu to the market and be selling. If they are not going to sell, they will make the balls very big. They will be rolling it and fetching a bit of water and smearing it, and it will dry and become smooth, and hard like cement. And they will keep it inside their rooms for cooking. And that is the talk of kpalgu.
And now I think I will start and add about how we Dagbamba raise animals. Truly, raising animals has got a lot of talk, but how I am going to cut it, I am not going to give you a long talk. To us Dagbamba, truly, the highest and most respected animal we raise is the cow. We look after cows because they cover our anus. And some of us are looking after sheep to help us cover our anus. And someone too looks after goats just because of that. And you might see another person looking after guinea fowls and chickens. There are some people who keep chickens and guinea fowls just in case they get a stranger, so that they will slaughter the chicken or guinea fowl to make a very nice soup for the stranger. Sometimes you will go to a village and see many chickens or guinea fowls at someone’s house, but you should know that the villager is not going to kill them by heart. If it is not a festival day, or if he is not going to repair his medicine, or if he doesn’t get a stranger, he will never kill one of those animals just to eat meat. He is just keeping them for the time he needs them, and they will help him cover his anus.
I can say that in our Dagbamba villages, if a villager becomes an old person, he will put two things outside his house. The first thing that is going to be worrying the villager is to get cows outside his house. If he has no cows, then he is not an old man, and he’s not even a person. And the other thing is a horse. And I have already talked to you about the respect of a horse in Dagbon here. A horse and a cow, these are what will be worrying every villager. A villager will say, “Look at how old I am, and look at how many children I have. I will die and people will come to my funeral and not see a horse standing outside my house. Or if I should die, I will not have cows so that they will catch one and kill it to perform my funeral.” But if he has these animals, the villager will use them to boast to his fellow villagers. That is how it is, and it is there today and tomorrow. When a villager is old and getting ready to die, he will say to his people that they should go outside and look at his cows and count the number they are going to kill on his funeral day.
And so Dagbamba don’t do business with their cows. But someone who eats and satisfies, if he has animals and he leaves his animals like that, sometimes they will increase, and he will find it difficult to be looking after them, and so he can just call some of the butchers or some people who are doing business with the animals, and they will come and take some. Sometimes he will sell about ten cows from his herd, just to sell some and decrease them. I have told you that if you happen to see somebody with a large number of animals, we call such a person someone who eats and is satisfied. Who is the one who eats and is satisfied? He is the one who has money. Someone who has money, nothing bad happens to him. If there is anything that is coming to him, that thing knows that if it comes to him, he will get something to protect himself. And so everything is afraid of a money man. As we are sitting, even sickness doesn’t easily catch the one who eats and is satisfied. That is how it is, and that is why he has all these animals. But the one who is not strong, when something bad comes to him, it will come and increase. If you don’t eat and satisfy, you cannot leave the animals like that: if you are hungry, if they grow a bit, you will catch them and sell. And so someone who does not eat and satisfy is just squatting down waiting for the animals to grow up quickly so that he can sell them and get money to buy food. But the one who eats and satisfies, he doesn’t mind them; you will follow him to buy some of the cows, and he will tell you that he doesn’t want to sell. And so if some people have only one cow, it is because that is how God has given them. Some people have animals, and the animals always die. And some people are there, too, and the animals will be giving birth to children, and they will be selling them straightforward like that. Somebody’s animal will give birth to the first one and then the second one, and when the animal gives birth to a third one, he will sell two of the animals at a time.
And so we use cows to perform our funerals. And inside our watching, we have something in Dagbon here. Sometimes someone may farm and get enough money to buy one cow, but before he dies, they will reach ten. If he dies, and the cows are about six or ten, they will have to take at least two of the cows to perform his funeral. If they don’t do that, and they get different animals to perform the funeral, the dead body will kill all the cows. He is the one who found them, and he got them because he wanted to cover his anus with them. And so why is it that he is dead, and you don’t want to take some of them to perform his funeral? At that time, the cows will all die. We have that in Dagbon here.
At this time we are sitting, some people have cows, and the cows are up to two hundred. And others have fifty, and others have twelve, and those remaining will have maybe three. And somebody will be there, and he will be farming, but the farming is not enough for him, and the profit he can get from the farm will only buy a sheep. Someone will only get profit to buy a goat, and another one will buy a hen, and another person will buy guinea fowls. The one who buys a sheep, he can leave the sheep, and when the sheep is going to give birth, it will give birth to maybe two at a time. If you buy a sheep and the sheep happens to give birth to a male and a female, then at that time you will know that your sheep are increasing. Goats too, if they give birth, it is the same thing. If you get a hen and the hen gets its children, and hawks don’t pick the chicks away, and there is no sickness to kill the chicks, you will also know that you will get something if they grow up. If you have animals, you will know that some day the animals will cover your anus. And so if you want, if you farm and sell, you can take the profit and buy an animal, and you will give the animal to your child or your wife to be looking after it. And it will add to all of you. And so that is how we in Dagbon look after animals.
And truly, it is not only from farming that we get money to buy these animals. If you are doing any different work, and you want to have something down in case a big talk should come to you, and you cannot solve it, you will get some of the animals and sell them and get money to solve your problem. And so it is not only farmers who look after animals. There are some farmers who don’t have even one cow. As I am sitting, I am a farmer, and I don’t even have a sheep, much less a cow. And so it is not that a farmer has to be looking after animals. And so that is its way. There are many people who raise animals in Dagbon here.
And so if you are someone who looks after hens, and the chicks come to hatch, you get a place for them inside the house. When it is evening time, you will choose one of your children to be catching them and putting them inside. And when it is daybreak, around six o’clock the child will open the hen coop, and you will bring corn or guinea corn and give it to the chicks. You have to give it to them inside the house, and they will eat and finish, and their mother will take them outside. They will be going outside and eating again. When they are outside and they are roaming, they eat insects. When they roam outside like that, then their mother leads them to come into the house again, and there is a place you have put their water too. We have something we call it noosali. They use clay to make it like a pot, and you dig the ground a bit and put it inside. You put water inside for chickens or guinea fowls, and when they come, they will put their heads into it and be drinking the water. And so when they enter into the house, they will go there, and their mother will be drinking and the small ones will also be drinking. The guinea corn you have been giving them, you will put some down there again for them.
If you have a way, you will go and remove a small termite mound and bring it to the house. If you have a bicycle, you put it on your bicycle and bring it home. If you have children, you can send them to find the mound and carry it home. Then you will call all the chickens to come around, and you will break the termite mound. They will eat and you will see their stomachs fill, and they will turn away again. If the termite mound is big, you will hold it. There are some you will break and the chicks will eat it for about three days. And so the guinea corn and these termites are what you are going to use to look after them. When the chickens grow up a bit, at that time if you give them corn, they can swallow it. But if they are young, they can’t swallow corn.
If they are guinea fowls, when the guinea fowl lays eggs, they take longer to hatch than chicken eggs. When the guinea fowl eggs hatch, the same way you were holding the chickens, you will let children to be catching them in evening time and putting them into the coop. If it is daybreak, they will open it the same way and you will give them food. The way you were feeding the small chickens, that is the same way you will feed the guinea fowls. And they will go out and they will also be eating. And they will come back inside the house and be drinking water from the noosali.
If you are somebody who goes to the farm, if day breaks, the small chickens and even the small guinea fowls, the way you used to open their place to go out in the morning, you won’t open them again. We have a type of woven basket we call nosuɣu. If you have a child, the child will put them in the nosuɣu and carry them to the farm. If you don’t have a child, you will carry them yourself. When you take them to the farm and you are going to weed or make mounds, then you will open them in the farm. They will be going inside the farm and be eating. As you are farming, and the hoe is digging the ground, some insects are coming up. They chickens will be following you and be eating them up to the time you will close from the farm to go home. At that time they are satisfied. You won’t have give them the termites again. And the way you are feeding them, anywhere you will go and sit down, you will see they will come and gather around you. If it is in the house, they get used to you. The way you give them food when day breaks, if you are inside your room, they will come and be hanging by your doorway.
What I am telling you, I have been seeing it with my brother Mumuni in Savelugu. That is how his fowls are. Mumuni can be going to the mosque and they will be following him. If he doesn’t return to his house and give them the guinea corn, they won’t go home. If he goes out and they see him returning to the house, you will see all of them running to him. When he is going inside his room, they follow him there. Sometimes he is drinking tea in the morning, and the guinea fowls and hens will come into the room. They disturb him like that until he doesn’t know what to do. But in his whole house, if they see anybody else going, they don’t follow that person. And so this is the way they get used to you if you are looking after them. If you have a living thing and you are feeding it every time, whether a sheep or a goat, anywhere you will go and sit down, you will see that the animal will come there. As for fowls, that is also the way they are.
Because of his fowls, Mumuni will hang a mat on his door, but they will come and be standing there until he comes out. If he doesn’t bring his hand outside and throw the guinea corn to them, they won’t move. If he feeds them like that, when they eat and finish, then they will go out and leave him free. But there are some people, if their fowls hatch small ones, they don’t know whether the chicks eat or don’t eat. The way Mumuni feeds his fowls, sometimes some fowls from outside will follow his own into his house to eat. And they also refuse to go to their homes. They will stay in Mumuni’s house, lay eggs and hatch them. Then Mumuni has to go around to other houses and ask “Whose fowl is this? It is in my house.” Some people will say that it is their fowl. When Mumuni tells them that it was in his house up to the time it laid eggs, some of them will say that since the fowl has laid eggs there, they will leave it there up to the time the eggs will hatch before they will come and collect the small ones and their mother. They will let Mumuni be feeding the mothers until they hatch their eggs before they will come and collect them. And so as for such people, they just leave the fowls to roam, and they don’t give them anything to eat. If such fowls enter your house and see the way you are feeding your own and they join them, they won’t go home again. There are always many of other people’s house fowls in Mumuni’s house. And their owners won’t send Mumuni any guinea corn to be feeding them. Sometimes Mumuni will start feeding his fowls, and fowls from other houses will run to his house and will rather be driving away his own fowls to get food to eat.
And so as my brother Mumuni is sitting in Savelugu, he is farming, and he is also very good at taking care of animals. Apart from raising guinea fowls and chickens, he also has goats. He doesn’t have sheep, but he gets a sheep when the Chimsi Praying Festival is coming. The goats have a place to sleep at his house. When it is daybreak, they go outside, and they will be roaming and eating. At midday, they come to the house, and the children fetch water and put it for them. Sometimes they come into the house one after the other, and they know where the water is, and they will come and drink it and go out again. And so they may come to the house three times during the day. When they come in the evening, the children will drive them into their sleeping place.
As for the goats, the way of keeping them is different. How Mumuni is taking care of goats, as for them, when they go out, they keep long. When they come, they will stand and be looking at his face. Then he will get up and look to see if their drinking water is there. He doesn’t give them guinea corn. He doesn’t go and carry things from outside. When they peel yams in the house to make food, they don’t throw the peels away. He lets them dry the peels, and he has a box which is not deep, and he puts the yam peels there. If it is plantain or cassava, it is the same. When they grind corn and sieve it to make food in the house, he reserves the chaff of corn flour and adds that, too. The goats will be eating from the box. And I have also told you that some people too go to the people making pito, and they get the dabisi, the lees, and give it to the animals. And as for sheep, too, it is the same way they feed them.
When the Chimsi Festival is coming and he buys his sheep, he doesn’t untie it to go outside and roam. How he feeds it, at daybreak he will cut some leaves from a tree and use a rope to hang them where the sheep is. The sheep will raise his head and be eating. And Mumuni takes flour chaff and corn and puts them in the box for the sheep to eat. By the time the festival comes, you will see that the sheep is very big. That is how he looks after the Chimsi animal.
But the goats he keeps in the house, they roam and eat. That is how it is in Dagbon here. The only time we control animals seriously is the time we make samban’ kawana, the outside-the-house corn. In the villages, don’t you see corn around people’s houses? Apart from farming in the bush, many people make small farms like gardens outside their houses. Some people even grow guinea corn, or groundnuts. At that time, if you don’t tie the goats, they will be eating in those gardens. And so we have to get rope and tie all of them. Even in all the towns and villages, the chief will let a drummer go round and beat the drum that “It is time for the outside corn. People have started, so anyone with an animal must tie it.” If you don’t tie your animal, the town council people will go around and catch it and send it to their office. If you search for your animal and you don’t see it, then you will go to that place, and they will charge you. If you don’t pay, they will say that the animal is for the government.
Many people who have sheep choose one or two of their children to drive them to their eating place. When they go, they drive them to the bush to be eating the grass, and the children will be sitting under a tree. Then they drive them to a place where they can drink water. And then they bring them back to the house. They have their place to stay we call napoɣu. Some people build it like a room, with boards to let air go inside, and some use boards and make it like a veranda. And so the sheep don’t go far, maybe half a mile or less than that.
But as for cows, we don’t feed them the same way as we feed fowls or sheep or goats. Cows go far into the bush and eat the grass. The children who look after cows, the naɣkparba, sometimes they bring them home late in the evening. If it is not Dagbamba children, it is Fulani people who drive them, and it is Dagbamba who have given them that work. The cows go far, but they don’t stay in the bush. They leave early in the morning, and they also have their place we call naɣlua. Haven’t you been seeing them in the villages? They get an area outside the house and drive some stakes, and put a fence around it. When they bring the cows back in the night, they tie them inside there.
When I was a small boy in the village, at that time, if a Dagbana gave birth to you as a boy, you would be taking care of cows until you became a man. It is now that Dagbamba are giving their cows to Fulani people to take care of them. In the olden days, the Fulanis were not in Dagbon. These Fulanis, they are not from here. Their home town is not Dagbon, but they have come here. I grew up and saw that Dagbamba had cows and were taking care of them, and then it came to a time when Dagbamba were giving their cows to the Fulanis to take care of. The Fulanis came here during the time the white men were holding Dagbon, before the war when the white men were catching soldiers. I don’t know, but I think that maybe the Dagbamba felt that the cows were so many that the children could not take care of them.
If you give your cow to a Fulani to take care of, their only pay is the milk of the cow. And as you don’t pay them, sometimes if you go to see them, you can buy salt or kerosene of something to give them. It’s only that the milk of the cow is for the Fulanis. That is for them. Even you the owner of the cow, if you want milk, you have to buy it from them, unless they want to give it to you. And so the Fulanis get their profit from the milk. Their wives sell the milk for drinking and to mix with fula. Even I can say that is because of the people who sell fula that the Fulanis are selling the milk. If the Fulani women don’t bring the milk to town to sell themselves, then early in the morning you will see the people who sell fula carrying containers to travel to some villages to buy the milk to sell with their fula. When the Fulanis came, they introduced waagasi, cheese. Dagbamba didn’t know it at that time. It’s now that we have a lot of houses, if they want to cook, they put waagasi in it. People eat it raw, and they fry it in oil. That is the fried cheese you have been buying for my son Osmanu and eating with him. Dagbamba didn’t know it at that time. It’s now that we have a lot of houses, if they want to cook, they put waagasi in it. And those who prepare waagasi also always go around the buy milk. And again, they also sell milk to mix with maha, the fried guinea corn. People eat it like that, and they also give maha for alms and sacrifice. Apart from that, Dagbamba had use for the oil from the milk, the butter. Dagbamba didn’t use it to cook. Do you know the type of hat we call wolliɣa? They use leather to sew on top of it. In the olden days, in harmattan time, when the wind is blowing, they would use the oil from the milk to rub on the leather so that it will not become dry. If you had leather shoes, you would rub it, and it would be comfortable on your foot. People who are doing leather work used that type of oil to rub leather to make it soft.
It is now that milk is expensive. The time I was small, there was no village you would go to and not find some houses that had cows. In the villages, the cows would be in the kraal, and in the morning, the ones who had the cows would come and take the milk. They would be two: one would hold a calabash, and the other would be pressing the cow’s breast. If they filled a small calabash, they would pour the milk into a big calabash. They would go around to all the cows that had milk. If you bought it with half a penny, you would get it plenty, and even, they would just bring it. You would drink and leave it, and the following day they would bring another calabash.
But today as we are sitting, milk has a lot of profit. If we were paying the Fulanis, we would not give them the way to be getting the milk and selling it for themselves. They get the milk in exchange for watching the cows. In the olden days, if someone took his cows to a Fulani to look after, he could give the Fulani a cow, but this time it is not there like that. People take it that the Fulanis are stealing the cows, that they exchange the cows with their mother’s child in a different town, and then they come and tell the owner that the cow is lost. It has been happening. Many people have cows with the Fulanis, and they don’t know the number of the cows. And so most Dagbamba say they won’t give a cow to the Fulanis to steal another one in addition. I can say that Dagbamba just throw away their wealth on cows.
And so the Fulanis are getting the benefit of the cows. Apart from the milk, they use the cow manure on their farms, and they farm a lot and get more food. That is why they left their home to come here and stay in the bush. And so we cheated ourselves. We have our land and our cows, and we gave the cows to strangers, and they are benefiting. At this time we are sitting, you know that we use money to farm. They have money. When it is time for farming, some of them farm and hire tractors. If grass grows in the farm, they hire laborers to remove the grass. That is why they left their home to come here and stay in the bush. And so we cheated ourselves. We have our land and our cows, and we gave the cows to strangers, and they are benefiting. And so that is why they don’t need pay. They gain from taking care of the cows. They are doing what their hearts want, and they are benefiting.
Truly, taking care of cows is difficult. It is more difficult than taking care of sheep. You can’t compare them. And those who look after the cows have more talks than someone who looks after sheep. As for the cows, every day you see problems. You can let a sheep roam on its own, but as for a cow, you cannot allow a cow to go on its own. If you lead the cow to the bush and leave it, maybe it will go into somebody’s farm. Maybe it will eat somebody’s yams or other crop. Where there is authority, if they come and see the way the cow spoiled the farm, the owner of the cow will get debt. Whatever the cow has eaten or spoiled in the farm, the owner has to pay for it. And so the one who is looking after the cow for the owner, if he makes a mistake and allows the cow to roam like that, he is going to bring that debt home to the owner. That is what makes the talks of cows more difficult than sheep or goats.
Let me add you some salt, because there are many talks and many problems inside the raising of animals. I have seen some of them myself, and so I am just going to cut you a short one, as an example. Inside our watching, we Dagbamba have something here on the part of raising animals. If a cow is going to give birth, and it gives birth to a female, you have to watch it. When that female grows up and gets pregnant and gives birth to another female again, then you can remove the mother. And so if you get a cow and it gives birth to females twice like that, then it shows that the cow will not stand. If you let it continue to give birth to children, then they will all die together with their mother. It is like that in Dagbon here; and it is not an argument. But if the cow gives birth to a female and then gives birth to a male, as for that, it is good. As I am telling you that if you get a female cow and the cow gives birth to females two times, it is bad, at first I was making argument with it, but I have seen it myself, and I think it is about eighteen or twenty years ago now.
At one time I had a friend; he was called Abdulai, and his father was the chief of Fooshegu. It’s a village about six miles from here on the Yapei road. And the father of my friend said that he wanted to give me a cow. The reason why he wanted to give me the cow was that during the farming time, I brought hoes and some cola nuts to greet him. And when I went to greet him like that, he called all his village people and told them that he was giving me a name, and he said, “This friend of Abdulai, his name is: ‘I have joined them and I will not forget them.’” And his village people were wondering the meaning of what he had said, about the “joining” and “would not forget.” And he told them that the hoes I had brought to him, if he used the hoes for farming, he would not forget me. And he told me, “I want to make a promise with you. If you get back to your house, try to get a day and come. And if you come, your friend Abdulai will take you to Manguli Kukuo, and you will see a cow there.” This Manguli Kukuo is a village that is about three miles from Tamale. And it was not up to a week’s time that I went back to greet my friend’s father, and when we were going, I took twelve pounds in my pocket. And my friend’s father told him, “Take your friend to the Manguli Kukuo-Naa, and tell him that I have asked you to bring him, and that he should take him to his cattle herd and get a very nice cow for him.” And when we went there, we went to the cow shed, and there was a Fulani man driving the cattle to me, and the Manguli Kukuo-Naa pointed at one cow and asked if I wanted it, and I said, “Yes, I want it.” And the Manguli Kukuo-Naa said that if he was going to sell the cow to somebody, he would sell it for twenty pounds, but because it was I, he would sell it for fourteen pounds. And I told him, “Truly, the only money in my pocket is twelve pounds.” And he said, “Yes. You can buy it. And so you should bring the money.” And he collected the money from me, and I also gave the Fulani man twenty pesewas.
At that time, the cow was pregnant, and the Fulani asked me, “Will you catch it and take it now, or you will leave it till it gives birth?” And I said, “I will leave it.” And the cow gave birth to a female. And we Dagbamba here, if you buy a cow, and your father is there, you have to go and tell your father that he should catch the cow and be drinking milk. But if your father is not there, you will tell your uncle. And so I went and told my uncle who was called Tahiru, and he sent people to go and catch the cow, and they brought it to the Fulani people at Bulpiela. These Fulani people were looking after the cow, and the cow gave birth to a female again. And my uncle called me and told me that it is good that the cow has given birth to a female. And I told my uncle that Dagbamba say that if your cow gives birth to females twice, it’s not good. And my uncle was mouth-arguing with me that it is good, and he said that as the cow has given birth to a female, within two days’ time, they will increase because all the cows are females and they will be giving birth to children.
At that time the Fulani man who was looking after the cow was called Tambo, and he called me and said, “Dagbana,” and I responded. And he told me that as the cow has given birth to two females and they were now three, if I didn’t remove one female cow from my cows, then I would not have any of them again. And I told him that my uncle said I should leave them, and I didn’t have the way to take them, and so what should I do? And the Fulani said, “All right. If that is the talk, then I will leave it, and you will see the end.” And I kept quiet.
Within a few days, the Fulani was driving the cows in the bush near the Yong road, and a cobra spit into the eyes of one of the cows, and the cow became blind. And the Fulani came to tell me, “How is it now?” And my uncle said we should sell it, and we sold it to the butchers for six pounds. And there were now two cows remaining, and the mother got another pregnancy again. And they took the cows to the bush, and the mother cow got lost. When they didn’t see the cow, the Fulani came to my house to tell me that the cow was lost. If a cow is missing here, you have to be looking around places where cows are, and when day broke, the Fulani was going around to villages to search for the cow. And one villager told him that they saw a very big cow lying in the bush, and the cow was dead, and they believed that it was a snake which had bit the cow. And the villager said that vultures had eaten the cow. And by that time I became annoyed, and so I told them to sell the other one which was left. It was just a small cow, and we sold it for nine pounds. And so what I have told you, have I seen it or not? And so I have seen it, and it is happening like that in Dagbon here. And so there are many talks on the part of raising animals, and this is one of them.
And I think that how I have talked today, I have joined many talks, and the talks on the part of farming, I have finished them to my extent. And so we will stop here, and tomorrow, if God agrees, I will add to this talk, because I have been telling you about the benefits of farming, and how we farm and sell food. And so I will continue with the talk of our markets in Dagbon here and how we Dagbamba sell things at the markets. And it is not only food that we sell. The markets have got a lot of talk, and so I will take it straightforward, and we will follow it and see.