In Ashanti, social structures are tending to break down. For example, the old rites of puberty, engagement, marriage and many more are dying out, and alcoholism is spreading.
Martha Boadu, our founder, is concerned about this, and has built a museum to preserve the Ashanti heritage. There are already museums in Ghana, but most major on sepia photos of colonial rulers, with ceremonial thrones and drums. By contrast this museum will specialise in things collected by local people.
So far, the museum has a little house, built by traditional building methods (see bottom photo); lots of clay and wooden bowls; some old muskets; tribal robes and witchdoctor’s equipment; old Ghanaian currency and even European currency, which local people may never have seen. It’s planned to video ceremonies and children’s games and storytelling evenings, and display them too.
Maybe one day this will be a really key museum of Ashanti culture. And the building’s great too!
Onyameani means The Eye of God. It is the name of a very pretty village we visited last month. When we arrived, the community were waiting for us and were dancing to pass the time. They were very friendly and welcoming, though we smelt alcohol on some of the men.
The village stands on the site of a cocoa farm, destroyed by fire in 1983. The inhabitants are northeners, recruited long ago as labourers by the owner. There are about 400 of them. They are polygamous and there are many more children than adults.
We assumed that the village’s title referred to a small, round pool of stagnant water, full of frogs and turtles, from which the people drank. They told us that every week one or other family had to visit hospital, but they hadn’t made the link between the water and their health.
We’ve since found a sponsor to pay for a borehole, and the village has been visited by our doctors, shown in the photos. They’re going to need a lot of help to reach any sort of stability.
Here’s a little interview with Mr Fuseini Amadu, Chief of Galiba Village, 75 years old, who has just had a second cataract operation, thanks to Hands International and the MCEC.
Nana Fuseini used to live in Yendi, Northern Ghana, where he farmed yam, cocoyam and maize. He is a member of the Dagomba tribe and his first language is Dabani rather than the Twi spoken by local people. He came south to Ashanti to find an easier life about fifteen years ago, when climate change made farming in Yendi very difficult.
He has two wives who bore him fifteen children, but five died. He is a Muslim.
In Galiba, he also farmed and his crops included maize, yam, groundnut and cow peas. As he got blinder he stopped working as he was afraid he’d hurt himself. Also, he stopped being able to distinguish between weeds and the crops he’d planted. He spent one year at home. Now he is back on the farm.
Ashanti Development operated on one eye some time ago. Now the other has also been operated on. He says both operations were successful, though the second eye looks as if it has hairs in it.
He prays for prosperity always to follow the donor. He prays God to bless everything he does. He says he is a human being so he can only say his thanks, but he knows that God will hear them.
We’ve been given an amazing donation from the Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), to be spent on cataract operations in the Ashanti.
Our home village, Gyetiase, has an eye clinic with an operating theatre, funded and equipped by SpecSavers. When we have identified enough patients who need cataract operations, we employ surgeons from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to come and operate on them. We are eternally short of money to do this, and often turn away patients through lack of funds.
HANDS International, working with the Muslim Community & Education Centre, has given us funds for large numbers of operations, and we are eternally grateful to them and in particular the HANDS founder, Professor AG Billoo.