Project Overview

Engineers Without Borders' work is capable of widespread impact in Ghana. We started off based in only a few of the nation's 107 regional districts; learning the out-in-the-field realities and building tools to address them.
We are now scaling up proven, effective approaches to infrastructure development from a small number of districts, to a national level. Specifically, we are institutionalizing evidence-based infrastructure planning at the district, regional and national levels. To ensure we have an enduring impact, EWB is building the capacity of district staff to manage and execute these evidence based decisions, teaching these skills to the Ghanains who are best able to implement them from their positions as managers and field experts.

September 13, 2010

Sam's Question

Thanks for the not only large but also numerically mirrored donation Sam!

I was surprised at what I learned in response to your question “What is the going rate for a wife in terms of livestock? Do transactions really go on like TV has led me to believe?”.

The short answer is four cows, the long answer is below.

The long answer requires some context. Before I came to Ghana I didn’t really believe that 52 different local languages could be spoken in such a small country, so I assumed that linguists were just getting a little crazy with naming languages as separate. I’ve found that there really is an enormous # of sub-cultures here. The traditional history of the country is defined by groups of many small tribes.

For example, I live in the district of W. Mamprusi, and the Mampruli people here speak a different language and have very different cultural norms for some things than the next group of tribes 70kms away. For example, men here, and just north of here, will have as many wives as they can afford, but that is not the case a little ways to the west. The Mampruli have only been in the area for a few hundred years, and their language and customs are quite different than from surrounding areas. Each tribal area has distinct traditional customs; which is all to say, each area has different engagement and marriage rites and rules.

The Fulani are a group near here that have a lot of cattle. My neighbor reports that before marriage, a man must give his future father-in-law four cows, no matter the wealth, beauty, education etc. of his bride-to-be. He also said that if the father-in-law likes you a lot, and wants you to marry his daughter, or if you are very poor, the father might agree to receive as little as one fowl (chicken). He reports that when a Fulani father accepts the livestock, the daughter is basically contractually bound to marry.

In W. Mamprusi you would visit your future fiancé’s father’s compound of huts with a group of family and friends and enough soda-pop and kola nuts to share with everyone while generally letting them know you intend to marry their daughter. They might generally agree or disagree, and the parents can direct the daughter on whether or not to get married, but they can’t agree on her behalf. Kola nuts are apparently not very delicious, and not all that expensive, but they are a traditional food to share at any important discussion. The soda-pop is a new addition to the traditional ritual! Coca-cola is the DeBeers of the Mampruli.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pam! Keep the posts coming! They are very cool and, invariably, contain something completely unexpected!