The Ghana Tree

My journey to Ghana. An account of what I see, learn, feel, and experience. My Story and the Stories I come across.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Herding

The herding of chickens and Guinea Fowl into the special round roust in the compound is a common sight in the villages each evening but at my compound in Wovogou it was a little more exciting. This was by far the biggest compound I had stayed in and had easily thirty people in it, including about seven or eight elementary school age boys and it was this crew that was responsible for bringing the chickens in. Now usually this is a rather controlled affair with one or two people making quite sounds as they walk behind the chickens, but last night it was a little different. It’s hard to tell who caused the enitial excitement—if it was the boys’ overenthusiasm or if they were just in charge of an unusually excitable group of chickens., but this involved about fifteen chickens and five boys raising a dust storm as chickens darted left and right and broke for the bush or made flying escapes over the heads of the herders and avoided flying tackles. The goal was finally accomplished but not before one chicken made a daring escape from within the compound—and scene that had more in common with a soccer match than anything else—with a chicken rocketing into the air and just passing through the raised hands of jumping goalie standing between the goal posts of the compounds gate and darting into a group of bush with three or four boys in hot pursuit. The outlaw was finally brought in after a successful tackle and scuffle and was unceremoniously carried into the compound.

Wovogou is set in a stunningly beautiful location being set amongst a section of rolling and lightly treed hills with a rather large pond nestled in a valley close by—whose trails are covered with lines of women walking back and forth from it with pails of water balanced on their heads. It is one of the smallest villages in RUSODEF with about four hundred people living in its compounds.
My arrival in Wovogou started out normal with a visit to the chief and then I began working on the first bicycle as FuFu was prepared. After finishing up the bicycle and eating lunch it was time to start the training, but that simply meant that it was three o’clock and I had little hope that it would start by four o’clock. So we headed off to the school and flagged down any girls we saw, and the chairperson set of on his bicycle to find a few more. And by three thirty we were starting—this is largely due to the fact that while Ghanaian women walk everywhere they never go anywhere fast; it’s as if they turn every walk into something to be savored and not rushed, maybe it is because they are often walking towards work and are attempting to make the walks bookending the labor as enjoyable as possible. Not only was the timing here a big improvement over the previous villages the class itself was much better—I had mentioned that it seemed impossible to get the young girls who the training was targeting to attend—but here two-thirds of the class were young girls; even a few newly married women attended but they had to leave early to cook. I was really relishing the walk back because we had finally had a good student training session.

Upon returning to the compound I talked with Walisu about the training before he returned to Tamale. After this I sat around and played some with the children in the compound. After the sun set, which was one of the best I have seen in Ghana—the compound was on the western edge of the village and looked out over the rolling hills and I looked out upon a herd of cattle being brought home for the night and tied down on the edges of the village—I went and washed and then hung my mosquito net. As I returned to the central area of the compound I could tell something was wrong. There were several women crying loudly, my host’s father, an old man was visibly distressed and even the children seemed to know that something was wrong with them sitting quietly around the compound. It was a very strange moment for me, I could tell that something had happened but had no way of knowing what it was and I did not know if it was ok for me to be present because it did have the distinct feel of a personal tragedy and I felt as if I at once both part of it and distinctly separate from it, because as I sat there some of the children came and sat next to me with one through hand motions asking if I could hear the women crying.  When my host returned from the Mosque I called Walisu so I could figure out what was going on. One of the women from the compound had been in the hospital and had just passed away after a difficult childbirth several days ago in which the child was stillborn.  After learning this and not knowing my place I went to bed rather early.

The next morning Walisu arrived early and said that we would be leaving soon because the whole village would be mourning for the remainder of the week. So after visiting the chief once more we set out after saying good bye to a teary eyed chairperson, it was his sister who had died. I will be returning to the village to complete the training in two weeks time. I was both very impressed with the beauty and people of this village and look forward to returning to them.

The repaired bicycle and school supplies.

1 comment:

  1. Jeremy, to us the chicken herding sounded like a chicken rodeo! We are sad to hear of the death of the mother. Always hard to understand these difficult situations.


    Mom and Dad