Sunday, October 28, 2012


Turns out I have internet access here in Tamale, and since I have some time
tonight, I'll post a few pics.  We departed Accra at 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning, intent 
on visiting three "craft villages."  These are creations from the early 1960s when
President Nkrumah, as part of an attempt to manage the economy, set up 
communities that would each focus on one special craft, which would then be
exported to the rest of the country and to the world.
These villages still exist and make their living largely off these very same crafts.
The three we were going to visit were 
Abompe - bead making (but a different kind than cedi beads from Oct. 4 blog)
Bonwire - Kente cloth
Ntonso - where they make a black dye in the traditional way and  stamp
traditional "adinkra" symbols on locally made cloth.
Unfortunately, we missed Abompe.  We were a mile past the turnoff when the 
driver realized we had missed it, so we continued on to Bonwire.  We'll try to 
hit Abompe on our return trip.

Saturday was a travel day, all the way up to Tamale.

And today, Sunday, we visited a witch camp in Yendi, enjoyed some traditional music,
and made a good-hearted attempt at dancing.

Can't deny that we will spend a lot of time on the bus.  Here's what
it looks like when I turn around and look back.

Having missed Abompe, our first stop was where they make kente cloth.
You can see it displayed on the back wall.  The looms and weavers
are in front.

Here's Hayley trying her hand at it.  Not surprisingly,the students
found it much harder than they thought it would be.
Here's kind of a random shot.  Upon coming out the kente factory,
I looked over and saw this young girl getting her hair fired.
What won't women do to get the hair they want?

Next stop, Ntonso and their dye making, print stamping operation.
It starts with the bark of a tree that is smithereened in this mortar by a
woman I would not care to tangle with.

But I gave smashing the bark a try.  Notice how impressed Krista is
with my efforts.
If you do it like the woman was doing it, the bark eventually looks like this.

After soaking it in water for a day you start to boil down the water,
much like we do with maple syrup, in a series of steps...

until it looks like this.

You then take one of these meaningful adinkra symbols, dip it in the dye and...

stamp it on the cloth, as Cassie is doing here.  If you do a really good job...

You get a great symbolic strip of cloth, like this.  Notice the other stamped
cloth in the background.  I'll hang this in our classroom.

Here we are in the witch camp.  You might wonder what that is.  In Africa
there is a strong belief in spirits.  Sometimes, when a person dies, they look
for the person who cast a curse or a spell on the deceased.  Usually, that
happens to be an older (though not always) woman who might coincidentally
have some property others are interested in.  The accusations cause fear
and the result is often that the woman must leave the village.
Where do they go?
Well, how about a village where other accused witches reside?
  They often bring some grandchildren with them to help with the chores.
It is not a good situation!

Here we are meeting with the village under the community tree.  Yes,
there are a few men here too, also accused.  But it's 90% women.

Upon leaving the witch camp, we visited some friends of Calvin back
in Yendi.  The men performed traditional music while both
men and women danced.  This woman is showing us how to do it.

We tried, but didn't quite measure up to the original.

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