Field trip to Pitanga rocks with Kongo Junior High School

Students from Kongo Junior Hight School forms 2 and 3 took a field trip to nearby Pitanga rocks on the 25th of October 2016. Pitanga is a village next to our school which is famous for the big cliffs that it has. ‘Pii’ in nabt language means a rock so this means the village has been named after the cliffs.

We started our trip early in the morning so that the sun would not be too hot on us. On the way there we were singing and dancing. Some of the songs we had created for ourselves and some of them are local traditional songs.

While walking we also talked about the different plants and trees that grow here and discussed the ways we can use them in our daily lives. Some of the plants that we saw were: shea tree, dawadawa tree, burasus palm and the red berry tree.

The tree that has the most uses here is the shea tree. People eat the fresh fruits of it and use the nutty seeds inside the fruit to produce shea butter. Shea butter is widely used for cooking and skin care. In addition to the butter, people also cut the bark of the tree to get a special gum, which can be used for mending things or just as chewing gum. Also the leaves of it have some medicinal qualities so after boiling them in water the liquid can be used for bathing newly born babies. People use the wood that you get from shea tree to make different tools as well.

 

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Cultural performances in Zua Primary School

Boys and girls from Zua Primary School are very good at dancing and singing. On 20th of October 2016 we had a cultural performance day at the school to show different local dances to our friends in Estonia and other countries.

In front of the schoolhouse boys did the traditional War Dance. It is a dance usually performed on funerals. The tradition comes from old times when different tribes of our area were always fighting. When a person who had married to a different tribe died, their family members would suspect that somebody from the new tribe might have killed this person. To make sure if this had happened, they would dress in menacing war costumes, take weapons like bows and arrows with them and go to the funeral. There they would perform a dance to threaten the people of the new family and see if somebody gets scared of them. It was believed that he who shows fear might be the killer. These days the dance is performed as a traditional ritual, not out of necessity and is an important part of every funeral. Of course we did not have a funeral at the school, but because students have seen the dance done many times, they could show everybody what it looks like.

Then we gathered under the baobab tree where boys and girls showed different local dances.

Later in the day Godfred from class 5, who is a very talented musician, built a Kolog (local guitar). To do it he used a calabash, goat’s skin, pins, string and wood for the handle. When the instrument was finished we could sing and dance some more. We also learned to play one of estonian traditional instruments, the Parmupill (Jaw harp).

PS! We will add videos of the dances later, in December 🙂

A song by class 4 of Dasabligo Primary School

Morning Assembly at Dasabligo Primary
Morning Assembly at Dasabligo Primary

The 4th grade students of Dasabligo Primary created and performed a song about animals living in their village. The name of the song is “Animals feed on grass”.  The song is about goats, cows and sheep who all roam freely around the school and our homes. It explains how these animals live during the rainy season when there is plenty of green grass around so they can eat a lot and grow very fast. Rearing of animals is one of the main activities that people do in rural areas of Ghana. We love our animals very much!

After performing our song we also made drawings of these animals.

Zopeliga Primary school preparing beans

On December 2nd 2015 Zopeliga Primary School teachers along with form 5 and 6 students organized a food day at their school. They prepared two foods: ngbegira (beans cakes) and tentaareh (chips from beans flour).

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Zopeliga Primary School students who volunteered for the project, classes 5 and 6

The first dish was Ngebegira. The ingredients needed to prepare this dish were the following: cowbeans (soaked overnight), water, sheabutter, onions, saltbitter and pepper.

The soaked beans were ground and then saltbitter was added to it. The children rolled small cakes out of the dough and put them to cook on clean grass on top of  boiling water. The cooking took place over hot steam for about 20 minutes.

Until the cakes were cooking, the students prepared the sauce: melted and heated sheabutter mixed with small slices of onion. The natural taste of sheabutter and onion did not need any other spices added to it.

Once the cakes and the sauce was ready the cake should be dipped into additional pepper (if needed, spices up the taste) and the sauce and it is ready for savoring!

Take a loot at the whole process explained by Zopeliga’s students.

Before the students started the second dish we had a nice talk about food: the students introduced themselves, explained who cooks at home, what they like to eat in general. The discussion was interesting and took place outdoors, hence you can hear the Harmattan winds blowing and how the nature has tried up.

The second dish, tentaareh was unfamiliar for many teachers too, the dish originally comes from Zuarungu area between Kongo village and Bolgatanga town. For this food the students used ready made beans flour that they mixed with salt and water. The paste was smeared on a  then placed again inside a pot with clean grass and boiling water. The cooking process was similar to ngbegira, they used hot steam, but the cooking was a lot faster. The cooked dish was then scraped from the walls of the calabash with a spoon and could be eaten as a side dish for dinner or as lunch.

The Zopeliga cooking event was as success not only because the students could show their skills and teach them to the Estonian volunteer who could then in return try to prepare it at home with Estonian students, but local teachers also learned more about their own culture. Both teacher Alice and Mary were positively surprised and wanted to cook it also for their own children.

 

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Zopeliga Primary School: headteacher Martin (third from left) with teachers Mary, Rafiatu, Alice, Bawa and Alex

National Farmer’s day and Harmattan

Logre Primary School’s headteacher Solomon and Mondo teacher Prosper decided to organize the food project one day before the annual Farmer’s day. This is a public holiday in Ghana and celebrated every first Friday in December, this year on 4th of December.

The tradition of celebrating this day and started in 1986 as a recognition of the important role farmers and fishermen play in the national economy. During that period, agriculture formed about 30%, one third of the country’s GDP. Two consecutive years prior to the first Farmer’s Day celebration, the country had suffered severe drought and wild bush fires, so the agricultural sector needed a boost of moral. So the second purpose the government had was to encourage and motivate the farmers to produce more. (GraphicOnline)

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Local family farming in their garden near Logre Primary School

This day is a vacation day for all workers and the whole public sector, a day off to enjoy literally the fruits of their own input. The best farmers and fishermen are nominated for prizes and they receive high recognition. The first best farmer received two machetes, a pair of Wellington boots and a preset radio (GraphicOnline), but nowadays the prizes are bigger and bigger. In 2015 the winner was entitled to a house and also took home a huge sum of money, a laptop and a car (Ghanaweb).

Every year the celebrations take place in a different region and city. This year it was special, because the 31st National Farmers’ Day celebration took place in Upper East region (UER) in Bolgatanga which is the closest bigger city to Kongo village. The theme of 2015 was Transform Ghana – Invest in Agriculture and almost 78 people were honored altogether (Ghanaweb). Bolgatanga is the town where Solomon lives and all Kongo was talking about the big event. The prominent people and elders were all invited to attend the celebrations.

The positive side of having the event carried out in Bolga was that the whole country turned their eyes towards their region. Upper East is the poorest of regions where the nature is the most severe and the famine and lack of education is the most prominent. However this was their occasion to show the hospitality of the locals and their warm hearts and positive assets.

The UER exposed the people of coming in to the agricultural potentials of the region and farmers got well informed about the eco-system, soil types as well as the weather and climatic conditions of the region. The winner of 2015 pointed out  the hospitable nature of the people commending them for their religious tolerance. (GraphicOnline) This is one of the aspects one could really feel coming to Bolga, Kongo or Logre site.

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Dried and burned savanna near Kongo

The period that Logre organized their food project was already the Harmattan season. The most flourishing rainy season came to end at the end of October, in November the surrounding sites started to dry up. In December it is when the crops really start to lack and the famine sets in.

The Harmattan is a dry, dusty strong wind that blows from the Sahara from December to February. It appears like fog but it is dust and the dust is so dense that it covers the sun. Some people could even describe it as pleasant because the small particles of sand dims down the heat coming from the sun. But for the locals it causes problems from drying the land completely to drying themselves: skins starts cracking and people suffer from occasional and sudden nose bleeds. Shea butter is the best moisturizer for dried skin and lips. (Easytrackgahan) Remind yourself how Sekoti Primary School prepared shea butter last year.

In 2015 the Harmattan started to unusually early.This is one of the consequences of the climate change. The result? The farmers are fearing that  the Harmattan could dry up cocoa seedlings but Ghana is one of the two biggest cocoa producers in the world.

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Lore PS Students reciting the songs

So due to Harmattan, it was rather difficult for the school to organize a preparing of the food or show the harvesting. They idea was to show the readers of the foodblog the local culture through some farming songs. The first step is that the group headed to the garden of the PTA chairman Mister Naab Dok. His family was planting pito (vegetable used not only to produce local alcoholic drink but the leaves are also used as vegetable in soups and stews) and tomatoes, even his smallest children were at the site with parents.

The garden was small but lovely, the had used millet sticks to fence it and protect from wild animals. On the way there we could really feel the Harmattan blowing. The headteacher was even about to cancel the event in fear of having bad audio quality and visibility. We still carried the project out in order to honor the preparation work the pupils had done but sorry for any inconvenience the sound may cause. Still, the picture depicts well the seasonal aspects.

The pupils were grouped by their duties, some of them were planting, some carrying water and watering, some accompanied with singing to keep up the good moral and the rhythm. Afterwards the group came together and started dancing to celebrate the end of work.

The headteacher translated the songs sung by the children. They were manly about honoring the works the parents do (the parts of all the participating pupils are farmers). Children need to respect the family and help out with farming activities. Sadly, it often implies skipping school for days do to the planting or the harvesting. Still, having food on the table is the second most important thing to survive after having clean water to drink.

As in the Northern part of Ghana the farming can only been done when the water is present, during the rainy season, parents are looking out for alternative ways of providing for their families. So the often crack stones or go mining gold to earn their living. The translations of the songs and the seasonal aspect of farming is also explained by the headteacher.

Sources used:

Common Ghanaian food for lunch – “kanzagma”

Gorug Primary School prepared national Ghanaian dish “kanzagma”. It is made from millet flour and beans leaves and steamed. “Kanzagma” is a light meal and commonly eaten for lunch.

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We are ready for cooking!

For preparing “kanzagma” you need:

– millet flour;
– beans leaves;
– salt bitter
– sheaoil and pepper for taste;
– pot (and grass and net) for steaming;
– “blender” for smashing beans leaves;
– calabash for shaking.

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All you need for preparing “kanzagma”
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Ready “kanzagma” in calabash and one of the cooks.

Want to know how our national dish is prepared? Watch short video below and find out!

There was also a performance after cooking. Students and teachers clapped their hands, sang and danced three different dances wearing colourful costumes.

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Teachers dancing Ghanaian national dance
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After cooking and dancing – BON APPETIT!

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2 in 1: Dramatic play and creative learning method

Teachers! Creative learning method for students!

Dramatic play – MILLET
African people have always had festivals at the time of harvest. In Africa the festival is of a religious nature and has lots of dancing and music. Dancers wear costumes and each dance tells a story. The stories range from a good ghost who looks after their crops and scares away the bad ghosts who try to spoil the food. It is important to celebrate the harvest. The students from Zanlerigu Junior High School performed a dramatic play about millet.

Creative learning method: „A video storyteller“

This is a creative learning method using African students’ dramatic play about millet.

Instructions:

  • Watch the video about the performance of Zanlerigu Junior High School students once
  • Using your fantasy, imagination and the words given below, think up a story for that video.
  • Write it down.
  • Teacher/classmates choose 1-3 most interesting and unconventional stories for telling others.
  • Tell your story while watching the video once again.

Tips for a successful storyteller:

  • Pay attention to the time and movements!
  • The story must be interesting and complete (with proper introduction and ending aswell) and fit in to that video.
  • Try to be as much as creative as you can!
  • Speak clearly without rushing.
  • Balance your voice tone!
  • Remember that the dance needs a specific story too!
  • Answer the questions: What they are talking about? What’s the situation? Why are they singing, dancing? What’s the point of this story/performance?

10 keywords you should use in your story:

  • millet,
  • gods,
  • advice,
  • celebration,
  • family,
  • food,
  • dance,
  • harvest,
  • national,

You can start like this:

Once upon a time in October 2014 there lived a family in Zanlerigu. One day Father …

Wish you a lot of fantasy and useful minutes with this video!

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Read all the post by students from Ghana.