New Vocabulary – Ansuma, Abiesong, “small,small”

September 15

After a good night’s rest we reconvened with the team at the MOFA municipal office to revise the questionnaire.  Questions about gender roles in keeping and marketing guinea fowl as well as household demographic and economic indicators were added.  We were feeling ambitious and reached our contact in Chang to arrange to meet the village project leaders and project participant farmers at 1PM at the meeting place.  Copying and stapling surveys and grabbing lunch delayed us more than expected and by the time we arrived at the meeting place (a large shade tree in the centre of the community) the farmers had gone back to work – with the good rains this year, there is much farm work to be done this time of year.  Word quickly spread that we had arrived and farmers and children started trickling in.  There are roughly 500 people living in Chang – you wouldn’t know it as, this time of year, you can’t see the houses and compounds through the tall maize plants.  We watch the children pump water from the village pump and fill large basins to take back to their homes – it takes 5 or 6 helpers to lift the basin but even the young girls can manage to carry the loads themselves on their heads, barely spilling a drop as they walk the foot paths and disappear into the maize plants.

I’ve been practicing my greetings in dagaare – people are pleased when you can say good morning “Ansuma” and reply to, well, just about any question, that all is fine “Abiesong”. We were officially welcomed as new visitors to the village by being offered water. It is customary to refuse the water but accept the locally made pito, a fermented sour mash made from guinea corn.  We were handed local bowls, which are about the size of half a large coconut shell and, being the first 2 visitors offered, one of the older village girls emptied an entire pot full of pito into each of our bowls, filling them to the brim.  It wasn’t until the rest of the team had their drinks poured that we realized you could just take a small amount!  It is also customary to drink all that you have been given, but the village elders let us off the hook this time and allowed us to share with some of the farmers.  Next time, we will know to ask for “small, small” when the pito is poured!

As it was getting late in the afternoon, we collected the names of the 87 men and women farmers who would be participating in the project from this village, as well as the names of our 4 co-op leaders for Chang and made arrangement to return the following morning after the church service was finished to conduct our questionnaire.  We said our goodbyes and headed down the dusty red dirt road back to Wa.