A Drummer's Testament
<Home page>

Chapter III-7:  Modern Work and Agricultural Development  <PDF>

Modern trends in work patterns; the Dagbamba resistance to education and “white man’s work”; guide to development of the region; water and dam maintenance; commercial and traditional agriculture; sources of local labor, sources of local decision-making; bullock farming and group farming

Paragraph outline and links
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Travel and modern work

1.  formerly Dagbamba farmed and did not travel
2.  in modern times, people travel easily
3.  white men brought different types of work
4.  young man could work for wages; different from farm earnings
5.  example:  road work; chiefs got money and gave to workers

Drummers have more work

6.  drummers work more often, get more money
7.  drumming work formerly less frequent; how it has changed
8.  what they earned formerly; money used to go farther
9.  money economy inflation; get more but spend more

With education, fewer people farm

10.  formerly Dagbamba did not send children to school; didn’t trust white men
11.  Dagbamba now see benefits of white men’s ways; children want schooling; no time to farm
12.  both ways are good because of population; census count is low

Farming for food better than commercial farming

13.  farming cannot feed the whole modern population
14.  olden days farming was better for Dagbon because farmed for food, not to sell
15.  government helps commercial farmers, not traditional farmers for food
16.  villagers still farm yams; cannot farm yams with tractors
17.  Dagbamba were farming before tractors were brought to Ghana
18.  development agencies should help small traditional farmers

Negative effects of modern farming:  grinding machines, fertilizer, tractors, corruption

19.  effect in Dagbon of grinding machines
20.  effect of tractors and fertilizer
21.  formerly used animal feces for fertilizer
22.  fertilizer not available or not sold at correct price
23.  corruption cannot be stopped
24.  corruption was not there in olden days; now it is everywhere
25.  animal feces is better than fertilizer
26.  tractor farming makes people feel weak and lazy
27.  returning to olden days fertilizer and techniques; burning
28.  other fertilizer from rubbish

Need to help traditional farmers

29.  get local leaders from among the small village farmers
30.  help those who cannot hire tractors
31.  need Peace Corps or CIDA or USAID to help instead of government people
32.  government people need bribes


33.  for water, need wells, boreholes, dams; cannot trust government to do the work
34.  separate the water for cows so that the water for the town is good
35.  people will help with the digging because will not be cheated by government
36.  get foreign aid workers to be watching the work
37.  after a few years the villagers will not agree to cheating

Organizing village farmers for traditional farming

38.  helping villagers with farming; axes, hoes, cutlass
39.  the villages are different; the leader is not necessarily the chief
40.  in some towns the chief has one mouth with the townspeople; Nanton an example
41.  villages and towns have farmers’ leader or young men’s leader; gather people
42.  getting the leader from the town; communicate about the project in advance
43.  give minimal money for agricultural inputs
44.  if no funds available, do market-day farming; not group farming
45.  credit problems with banks, which support large-scale farmers
46.  farmers will use traditional ways of farming
47.  do bullock farming where possible; another way to avoid tractor problems


48.  the small farmers are not following the group farming practices but need inputs
49.  the goal of farming help should be consistent with traditional food farming


50.  transition to family and household topics

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Dagbamba say that if you want to eat food and you boil it, it is better than the food you roast.

Now we have come to the time of money.

As there are many people, we also are beating the drums more.

As we have come to the time of money, our money is not standing again.

If you enter into trouble, you will see how you will work it, but if you have not entered, you don’t know how you will work it.  You have to enter into it before you can know how you will catch it.

Water:  that is life.

If a person does not get water to drink, they are deceiving you:  you can’t eat food.

Life:  the head is water.

They made water, and made life.

A stranger cannot know a town.

It is the town child knows his fellow town child.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Nanton-Naa Sule
Nanton-Naa Issa
Nanton-Naa Alaasambila

Names and people
Afa Abukari
Afa Adam
Afa Aduna
Fatawu (Ibrahim)

Miscellaneous terms
bambara beans
gboru  [sound of a tractor]
groundnut, groundnuts
guinea corn
gungon  guŋgɔŋ
lorry, lorries
neli  nɛli
pesewa, pesewas
wublim  [Striga hermontheca (Del.) Benth.; also S. brachycalyx]

Cultural groups

Towns and places
Upper Volta