A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-15:  How Girls Grow Up in the Villages   <PDF file>

Girls’ work in the villages: grinding, sheanuts, harvesting; household training; festival markets; early courtship patterns

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


girls carrying firewood
[other images]

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>


1. village children get sense from respecting elders and doing work

Girls’ early training

2. grinding, sweeping, fetching water

The work of shea nuts

3. seasonal gathering; go in groups or by houses; early morning
4. difficulties: rain, snakes
5. stay late; eat when return home; grinding and making food
6. not white man’s work: the girls can go at different times
7. collect firewood; boil the shea nuts and spread them
8. shelling the shea nuts; how many they get

Harvesting groundnuts

9. groups pick groundnuts for farmers and receive a share
10. how they measure the groundnuts and get their share
11. cheating in the groundnut picking and sharing
12. cheating as a part of farming
13. cheating also a part of harvesting rice, corn, and other crops; different from group farming

How the harvesting work helps families to raise the girls

14. mothers and aunts use the money from shea nuts and groundnuts to but clothes and take care of the girls

How young girls attend the festival markets

15. markets during festival months; important focus for the young girls, from nine to ten years old
16. how they carry their dresses to the market
17. going around the market; how they dress and prepare themselves
18. they go around in groups, with a leader

How the village boys and girls befriend one another at the festival markets

19. how village boys ask to know which towns the girls are from
20. the village boys get their town’s girls to ask about the girls they like
21. boy sends his town’s girl to greet with porridge and cola
22. the girl with a sister or friend will visit the boy; the father and brothers will prepare food; small money when they leave
23. how the friends help one another during Ramadan; cooking and gifts

Friendships and early gender relations

24. these early friendships help them learn how to treat one another; how the befriending has change in towns and modern times
25. the friendship does not interfere with the promised betrothal of a girl; how the situation can get complicated
26. how very young children play at husband and wife; tankpɔ’ luɣsa: early sex play
27. actual sex can damage a girl; treatment for a young girl whose virginity is lost; matter can go to chief
28. tankpɔ’ luɣsa not a custom; just something children do

Training for marriage

29. girls get advice on how to live with a husband
30. the work she will be expected to do, and more advice
31. the training is informal conversation while doing chores; no time because of constant work
32. women do not sit and talk even in compound; working together to prepare food
33. brief time for talking is after eating; women teach work, not old talks

Village girls and town girls

34. village girls follow their mothers or aunts in work; townspeople buy what they need
35. village girls know different types of household work: farming, cooking, grinding
36. in towns, everything is already prepared; no work to teach the girls

Women who train girls

37. training starts young; women who train girls well get more children to raise
38. if a girl is not well trained, sometimes it is the girl’s fault
39. some women abuse the girls with too much work; girls run away
40. people don’t give daughters to a relative who will mistreat them
41. too much suffering will harm a child; protect from too much heavy work
42. some children suffer and do well
43. girls work harder than boys

Preparing for marriage

44. after menstruation, a girl is considered mature and can marry
45. a girl can grow and not be married; no man has looked for her; not a fault
46. sometimes the father has not found a husband for a matured girl
47. bad spirits can make a girl fear men; medicine to treat
48. girl in her father’s house can be betrothed to a man who dies; resembled widow
49. treated like a widow, with soothsaying stones


48. summary: this is how girls live until they are married

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

The town sense is: “What am I going to do to get money and spend it?"

It is in the work that the village children do that they get their sense.

Everything needs showing.

If you don’t ask your dog to catch something, it won’t go and catch it.

On the part of farming, villagers don’t fear cheating.

Of all the people who are doing work, it is the farmer who has the most blessings.

The day you show that someone is cheating you is the day you will no longer benefit from that person.

Their leader is not anybody apart from the one whose eyes are open.

In some places, it is only the eyes that will talk talks.

Whenever you see a young girl’s breasts coming out, young boys will be looking at her.

A girl will not be anywhere and a boy will not also be there.

An old talk does not finish.

It is the woman who covers the secrets of the man.

It is because of strangers that somebody has a wife.

A woman doesn’t show her daughter or granddaughter many talks; it is a different woman who will show the child.

A woman hasn’t got time to sit the way a man will sit.

A woman’s teaching is on the part of work, not on the part of old talks.

A small goat looks at its mother’s mouth and eats.

If a fish is dried and you want to bend it, it will break.
If God has not made somebody, and you say you are going to make the person, it won’t stand.

The sharing of children is what your heart wants. It is not a debt.

Our old Dagbamba say that it is because of suffering that a child will not grow fast.

The villagers train their children with suffering.

Suffering doesn’t kill a person.

Everybody has his luck.

If you are going to choose a man, and you don’t cool yourself, you will choose a man and it won’t be daybreak and you and the man will leave one another.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders

Names and people

Towns and places

Cultural groups

Miscellaneous terms
chugu daa: (Chuɣu Daa)
chugu (chuɣu)
Eh  (exclamation)
groundnut, groundnuts
kpo  (sound of knocking)
kunchun (kunchuŋ)
kunkon (kunkɔŋ)
neli (nɛli)
nmankpabli: ŋmankpablo
Oi  (exclamation)
sagim (saɣim)
sakoro: fufu
shea tree (taaŋa) [Vitellaria paradoxa (formerly Butyrospermum parkii)]
tankpo' lugsa (tankpo’ luɣsa)