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
girls carrying firewood
outline and links by paragraph
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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
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
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
cheating also a part of harvesting rice, corn, and other crops; different from
How the harvesting work helps families to raise the
14. mothers and aunts use the money from shea nuts and
groundnuts to but clothes and take care of the girls
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
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
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
23. how the friends help one another during Ramadan; cooking and gifts
Friendships and early gender relations
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
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
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
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,
36. in towns, everything is already prepared; no work to teach the
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
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
48. summary: this is how girls
live until they are married
Proverbs and Sayings
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The town sense is: “What am I going to do to get money and spend 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
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.
teaching is on the part of work, not on the part of old talks.
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.
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
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Towns and places
chugu daa: (Chuɣu
kpo (sound of knocking)
shea tree (taaŋa) [Vitellaria paradoxa (formerly Butyrospermum
tankpo' lugsa (tankpo’ luɣsa)