The movement seems to have taken place under Na Luro, the twelfth Ya-Na, though the oral 'drum' history of Dagomba attributes it to his successor, Tutugri. The Gonja had mounted a new campaign against western Dagomba under Kumpati. Zangina, who was old, apparently had difficulty persuading his divisional chiefs to lead troops against Kumpati and few of the eastern Dagomba chiefs took part in the campaign, which lasted about seven years.
Islamisation was no doubt assisted by the location of Yendi on the trade route from Salaga to Kano. Indeed, his regalia and the ritual surrounding his office kept a substantial pagan element. The limam could be a powerful figure in the court not only because of his spiritual authority but also because, as Northcott wrote, 'he is able to read and write, and etiquette forbids that any member of the royal family should compass these accomplishments'.
The 'drum history' records this innovation: 'At that time everyone wore skins as clothing. When Zangina became chief, he went to the Mosque at Sabali and prayed that God might grant the Dagomba clothing. It was thereafter that God enabled the Dagombas to know the art of weaving clothing. These raids may have been spread over a period of as much as fifty years as Fage suggests. The chief of Kpatina, Ziblim a son of Andani Sigili and grandson of Zangina on his mother's side is alleged to have invited the Ashanti to attack Na Gariba.
Gariba, deserted by all the major western Dagomba chiefs, was captured by an Ashanti army and was to have been taken to Kumasi. However, he was released en route, at Yeji, following an appeal by some of the Dagomba princes. The payments continued irregularly until , when they ceased with the decline of Ashanti power. There was thus a period of perhaps years during which Ashanti was a strong influence in Dagomba.
Historians disagree about the strength and character of this influence. Wilks and Fage have said that it amounted to the creation of a protectorate, the payments being a form of tribute; Tamakloe described Dagomba as a 'vassal state'. Duncan-Johnstone reported that 'the Ashanti always treated Dagbon with respect as a powerful kingdom although tributary to their King'. Iliasu further remarks that the Ashanti presence was 'highly profitable to both sides'. Contemporary descriptions seem to confirm Iliasu's interpretation. Dupuis, writing in the s, commented: 'Yandy forms no part of the [Ashanti] empire, but it is true that Ashantee influence carries great weight in the councils of the sovereign of Dagomba.
The Ashantees who had visited it told me they frequently lost themselves in the streets.. The markets of Yahndi are described as animated scenes of commerce, constantly crowded with merchants from almost all the countries of the interior. Horses and cattle abound, and immense flocks are possessed even by the poorer class. A triumph of policy was in the view of the King of Dagwumba, equivalent to the small diminution of personal dignity; and at the expense of an inconsiderable tribute, he established a commercial intercourse which, his markets being regularly supplied from the interior, was both an advantage and a security to him.
In either case, the result was the formation of five chieftaincies the kambon naanema , within which the titles of offices and organisations show marked Ashanti influence - t h e chiefs, for example, sitting upon stools rather than the skins used by Dagomba chiefs. The kambonse became notoriously independent-minded and could easily have developed the role of a Praetorian Guard manipulated by factions within the royal family. The Ashanti presence seems to have stimulated such factionalism. Iliasu suggests that the annual tribute was a significant factor in factional com- petition and remarks on the immense opportunities the annual payments afforded for intrigues against the paramountcy.
After Ashanti control of its hinter- land declined. This decline, though relieving the Yendi authorities of the obligation to send tribute, removed the imperial protection which traders had enjoyed. Ashanti merchants and officials were killed or imprisoned and both Salaga and Yendi lost their prestige as commercial towns. The traders frequently alter the routes they use. But, though the Ya-Na was willing to arrange for the dispatch of ivory to the coast, Ashanti power was still sufficient to stop the establishment of a really substantial trade by-passing Kumasi.
Broadly, what seems to have happened was a weakening of the authority of the Ya-Na over his divisional chiefs. Phyllis Ferguson and Ivor Wilks argue that the intensification of conflict over the Yendi skin in fact reflected a rise in the prestige of the office, caused by the development of a court bureaucracy which provided 'a new and powerful executive instrument' for the paramount.
But on several occasions the Ya-Na went to war with divisional chiefs over disputed successions and one Ya-Na was killed by a rival from another branch of the royal family. In a system of indeterminate succession, such as obtained in Dagomba, the king was almost bound to act as a partisan in quarrels over succession. For in most cases his own side of the royal family would have some interest in the settlement - some hope of gain, however trivial, or some fear of loss, however remote.
It does, however, seem that contests were more frequent in the nineteenth century and that the divisional chiefs were readier than before to defy their paramount. The country and the people The instability of nineteenth-century Dagomba may have been partly due to the withdrawal of Ashanti, though, as noted above, the relationship with Kumasi could as well undermine the paramount as reinforce him.
Another factor was the availability of mercenaries. Probably in the early s, Ya-Na Abudulai began to employ a number of Zabarima horsemen from the region of Fada N'Gourma in Upper Volta, to help in capturing people to make up the annual consignment of slaves for the Asantehene. They eventually settled to the north of Dagomba, in the 'Gurunsi' area, where they continued raiding. It was a pro- cedure sanctioned by many precedents, though obviously not one formally embodied in tradition. Fish from the sea Shielded by Ashanti from the coast, the rulers of Dagomba knew little about Europeans until the s, when German, French, and British expeditions began criss-crossing over their territory, bringing with them flags, treaties, and offers of protection.
Their innocence persisted until the very day of military defeat, 4 December , when a Dagomba army of 7, was routed by a tiny German force of , at Adibo, south of Yendi. Ya-Na Andani had told his soldiers to go out and capture the Europeans, encourag- ing them with the words, 'Sereminga yi-la kuom-na, o-nye la zahanC 'The white man is come from the water, he is a fish'. The Germans had first laid claim to Togo in , when Nachtigal landed near Lome and declared a protectorate. Their occupation was accepted by the other powers and, unlike the French in Dahomey and the British on the Gold Coast, their progress was not impeded by a powerful African state behind the coastline.
In , and again in , German expeditions were sent north. The first, under Krause, passed through Savelugu in July on its way to Ouagadougou, and the second, led by Captain von Francois, visited Yendi, Salaga, Gambaga, Karaga, and Nanton between March and May , getting the chiefs to accept German protection.
Within these limits the powers agreed 'to abstain from acquiring pro- tectorates or exclusive influence'. This 'neutral zone' survived, in principle, until Ferguson, to arrange treaties with the 'native author- ities' in Dagomba, Gonja, 'Gurunsi', and Mossi. The treaties were mainly commercial in character. In Ferguson was sent north again and he arrived in Yendi on 17 August. Ferguson reported that conditions in the north were unsettled:Tn all the countries mentioned, there are frequent civil wars between rival claimants for regal ascendancy.
In many cases, however, they are willing to submit their feuds to arbitration. Concerned about sugges- tions of a partition of the 'neutral zone', he remarked: 'Considering the political condition of the people, the arrangement is unfavourable to the civilization of our Hinterland. The strip of country which is owned by Dagomba and Bimbla [sc. Nanumba] between the eastern boundary of the Neutral Zone and the Oti River, is of the greatest strategic importance.
During the next eighteen months two more German expeditions visited Yendi. In December the Ya-Na accepted protection from Germany adding to that he already had from the British and in February von Carnap-Quernheimb passed directly across the neutral zone to Gambaga. Negotiations between the two powers on a possible boundary leaving Yendi to Germany and Salaga to Britain had broken down in November The final impetus to partition was provided by the occupation of Kumasi in January Worried by the German expeditions and by a French mission which had crossed from Dahomey to Kong in the Ivory Coast in , the Colonial Office decided on an effective occupation of the Ashanti hinterland.
The German force, under Gruner and von Massow, moved up from Kete-Krachi, defeated the Dagomba at Adibo, and then went on to occupy Sansanne-Mango before a French mission could get there. The French arrived too late, on Christmas Day. But when a German detachment moved on to Gambaga, they in turn found that a British expedition under Captain Stewart had arrived there before them. For the Dagomba, however, the agony continued throughout A band of Zabarima, under Babatu, entered Dagomba from the north, having been pushed south by French and British troops.
An extended campaign began between the British occupying forces and the dissidents, the Dagomba villages of Pigu, Singa, and Karaga being destroyed in the course of and The major concern of the British seems to have been that of securing the entire Mamprussi area. The actual convention, signed on 14 November , provided that the frontier should be drawn 'in such a manner that Gambaga and all the territories of Mamprussi shall fall to Great Britain, and that Yendi and all the territories of Chakosi shall fall to Germany'. But the Ya-Na had had his kingdom sliced in half.
As Chamberlain remarked: 'It will be seen that the boundary proposed. Colonial rule lasted in the Dagomba area for fifty-six more years and underwent two major rearrangements. Under the terms of the Milner-Simon Agreement of July , the British were given Eastern Dagomba and other parts of ex-German Togo under League of Nations mandate and were given permission to administer the northern areas as integral parts of the Northern Territories Protectorate. Initially the Yendi mandate section was administered as a separate district, the Eastern Dagomba District, but from there was a single Dagomba District, with headquarters at Yendi and with boundaries which were made to fit as closely as possible those of the kingdom.
The shift to indirect rule led also to the establishment of a Dagomba Native Authority, presided over by the Ya-Na, and of Subordinate Native Author- ities, headed by divisional chiefs. Direct taxation was imposed in the late thirties, so as to provide a financial basis for 'native self-government'. Shortly after independence Dagomba became part of the Northern Region of Ghana and political appointees replaced Europeans at regional and district levels.
With this general overview of the physical, demographic, and historical background of Dagomba in mind, we may now examine in more detail the social and political structure of the kingdom. As an exercise in reconstructing 'traditional' society, it is liable to produce an excessively rigid and formalised model, since it is so hard to distinguish in retrospect between what was important and what was trivial and flexible. Further, although the intervening period of colonial rule did bring about a great increase in foreigners' knowledge of pre-colonial government, the 'conservationism' practised by some administrators led to a certain fossilisation of 'traditional' politics, to a mummification of the body politic in a wrapping of ethnography.
The 'indirect rulers' sometimes killed the thing they loved: that is, they destroyed the essential dynamics of 'archaic' societies by heavily administered efforts to preserve formal institutions and procedures. For, as Peter Lloyd writes, 'In the colonial territory and the modern independent state it is often the rituals and ceremonies which have survived, while the traditional decision- making processes have been irrevocably changed. Among these problems are the definition and isolation of 'the political sphere' and the characterisation of the traditional state.
In most societies, and particularly in African societies, it is difficult to distinguish 'the political sphere' at all rigorously, because of the over- lapping of roles, the multi-functional nature of institutions, and in some African cases the lack of specialised structures of government. Fortunately, Dagomba society has at least had a clear, formalised structure of authority, giving rise to relations of the kind that Maquet describes as 'political' - those involving 'command-sanctioned-by-coercion'.
It possessed territorial sovereignty; it had 'a centralised machinery of government' undertaking the maintenance of law and order; and it manifested 'the existence of a specialised privileged ruling group or class separated from the main body of the population'. The result was the imposition of a ruling class upon the indigenous popula- tion, which became the commoner estate dagbandaba. This class has remained distinct in several respects. With the exception of the elders and some chieftaincies held by descendants of the earth priests tindamba , political office is monopolised by descendants of the invaders.
The lineage structures of the two classes are somewhat different; and the ruling class is more Islamised than the commoner estate. But there has certainly been intermarriage and, although the chiefly class dresses more grandly than the commoners, there is little visible evidence of the existence of separate strata.
Indeed, it seems to have taken the British a long time to realise that 'the Dagomba' were not homogeneous. Dagomba society, high and low, is based on a patrilineal system of kin- ship. The household yili is made up of two or more men, related agnatically, with their wives and other dependants: that is, father and son or sons , grandfather with married son or sons , or brothers with their dependants. The senior man acts as household head yiliyidana and in this role exercises authority in such matters as agricultural work, negotiations over marriage, and prayer to the ancestors.
In the ruling class, the kinship group involves descent traced through relations on both maternal and paternal sides, the male and female children of one grandfather or great-grandfather. This unit of 'bilateral descending kindred' known as the dang is usually no more than four generations deep. Within such a system, an individual may be a member of up to four kindreds, none of which is likely to be confined to one village or town. But while claims to succession in chieftaincy are some- times founded on maternal connections, the normal practice in this respect is to follow the strict agnatic line zuliyd and to prefer those favoured by it.
The village is divided into wards fona, sing, fong , each being identified by its head or by the specialist group dominating it. There may be a chief's quarter nayilifong , an imam's quarter limamfong , a quarter for the soldiers, one for the butchers, another for the drummers, and so on. The commoner population distributes itself throughout the village, not being concerned in the distinctions of status indicated by the naming of wards, and there is no physical segregation of the commoners from the ruling class, though there is a clear protocol governing access to the chief and the treatment of his relatives.
The village was, materially, a 'global society', depending on the 'com- pound farms' encircling it and the bush farms, up to several miles away, kept by each family.
For tasks which needed a bigger supply of labour such as the building of yam mounds and the harvesting of crops , the family head could get assistance from other men in the village or from outside. Such labour was paid for with food and drink generally the local beer, pito. The tindana sanctioned the use of land and received in return an annual tithe with which he acquired sheep for sacrifice to the spirit of the land. He was not a ruler but a priest, a mediator between the people and their god. It provided use but not ownership of the land: the concept of land as an alienable commodity was unknown to the 'black Dagomba'.
In reality, a complementary relationship seems to have grown up in many places between the old tindamba and the new rulers. The tindana, as a fetish priest, continued to perform sacrifices and to care for shrines recognised as thpse of the spirits of the land. He would be provided with food and with animals for sacrifice by the chief. Moreover, the tindana still controlled the apportionment of land, as H. Blair the most knowledgeable of British D. Similarly sub-divisional Chiefs have no right to apportion land to persons except within their own towns. The Chief does not grant farming land to individuals.
He is considered not to have any right of control over farms. Tindamba have still power over Chiefs and are feared. The social structure of Dagomba was sustained by religious sanctions which reportedly were particularly strict in regard to rights of seniority in the lineage and to all matters affecting the dignity of ancestors. More recently, the census indicated that 42 per cent of Dagombas were animists and 53 per cent Muslims.
It is, obviously, impossible to assess the strength of religious belief as a framework of social behaviour, at least insofar as many acts explained locally as due to 'fear of the gods' can be explained alternatively by reference to values which, superficially, lack religious sanction-concern with social disgrace, fear of losing patronage, or ambition for office.
Certainly, the 'drum history' gives evidence of a surprising pragmatism with regard to the fetish and its demands. He was the commander of the Dagomba army; he was the highest judicial authority; he appointed chiefs and elders, who conducted the administration of the state. The Ya-Na was also lineage head of the dynasty, head of the royal patrician, and a figure surrounded by rituals of avoidance and deference.
Under the monarch lay several hierarchies of chiefdoms and a complex network of dynastic politics. The kingdom was divided into three provinces, Karaga, Mion, and Savelugu, ruled by royal 'dukes'. There were also smaller units, the twelve divisions, ruled by the dukes, other senior royals, or independent commoner chiefs. The various categories of chieftaincy are examined in greater detail below, but it is important to mention here the ground rules of office-holding, since these rules provided the framework of dynastic politics, affecting the king and his subordinates.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Dagomba chieftaincy was its system of promotion. Young men of the blood royal usually started on the ladder of promotion by appointment to small villages, moving upwards until they reached divisional capitals and ultimately, if they were qualified and fortunate, the paramount chieftaincy itself. Promotion and competition for office were limited above all by one rule: that no man could rise higher than his own father. The most important implication of this rule was that only the sons of a Ya-Na could become Ya-Na. But, of course, this provision did not eliminate competition: it merely structured the field.
There were always several qualified candidates, even for Yendi. For all chieftaincies under Yendi the choice ultimately lay in the discretion of the paramount: even the highest degree of eligibility did not confer the right to a skin. Each hoped to reach his 'terminus', as defined by his father's ultimate rank. The prospects of his own sons were involved with, indeed dependent on, his success: the rank and honour of the line were thus at stake in each genera- tion. So, while Yendi was the prize par excellence, others were as vital to more junior royals.
Moreover, although the target was fixed individually for each candidate, he did not necessarily seek it in isolation. Kinship and patronage provided the bases of alliance and opposition. The selection of a Ya-Na affected the outcome of various other contests, at divisional level or even at an obscure village level. The higher chiefs often had relatives or proteges engaged in struggles for minor chieftaincies.
Every contest or dispute was thus kaleidoscopic, revealing on closer study an apparent infinity of patterns, perspectives, highlights, and shades. The politics of chieftaincy were further complicated by the existence of interests and offices outside the royal family. There were divisional and village chieftaincies held by commoners generally descendants of the captains and ministers of earlier kings. These, too, were objects of competi- tion and were also in the gift of the king. There were also the offices of the various councillors, not only to the Ya-Na but to the divisional and village chiefs as well.
For every chief had a court, a group of elders, warriors, and attendants, which moved with him as he made his way along the cursus honorum. The elders were commoners, but in certain cases they could appoint to chieftaincies or themselves be appointed. They had as we shall see immense power at court, as advisers, judges, and patrons.
We shall use here the most recent sequence, established by Phyllis Ferguson, which varies only in minor details from earlier lists provided by Tamakloe and Tait. But this does not mean that every Ya-Na has been succeeded by his eldest son. When there has been conflict over succession, it has generally been between, on the one hand, the deceased's younger brothers and, on the other, sons of the deceased or of previously deceased elder brothers - in other words, the Shakespearian pattern of uncle versus nephew or cousin, but rarely brother versus brother.
Like any other system, the Dagomba system manifests characteristic crises and patterns of conflict. Such rules became necessary quite soon, for after a few generations in power the consequences of polygyny made themselves felt, in the form of large numbers of eligible sons.
Such growth complicates the process of selection, because the larger the number of eligibles the more difficult they are to handle. Where the support of such a large dynasty is not required, one solution is to lop off the unwanted branches. Homicide apart, the dynasty can only be cut down in size by shedding whole segments i. For this and other details of royal chronology, see Ferguson , pp. But the problem of succession nevertheless quickly became acute and it was therefore necessary further to distinguish between royals who might be eligible for Yendi and others who would be eligible for lesser chieftaincies i.
For even the category of royal sons was becoming uncomfortably large. For example, allfiveof Na Zoligu's sons succeeded to Yendi and they had all together twenty sons: again, five became king and they produced thirty-one sons. Not surprisingly, after another generation there was a crisis. Fearing civil war if they appointed Zangina, the elders referred the selection to the Na-yiri, paramount of the Mamprussi: 'The elders having secretly sent messengers to the King of the Mamprussis in Nalerigu to inform him of their opinion, begged him to act in their favour, and advised the contending claimants to defer their claims to the King of Mamprussi.
Tamakloe says that considerable bribes were given by the candidates including Zangina who, according to Phyllis Ferguson, had in his previous career as a trader 'accumulated sufficient capital virtually to buy his way into the nam against all opposition'. More important than his actual choice of candidate was the Na-yiri's alleged edict concerning selection for the Yendi skin.
This edict limited the range of eligibles to those already occupying three 'gate' skins. To be a candidate for Yendi, a royal had first to be Karaga-Na, Yo-Na divisional chief of Savelugu , or Mion-lana: only occupants of these skins could be considered. All authorities agree that these were the skins selected as 'gates' and on the whole the rule has been followed. The other two were regents, who succeeded in circumstances to be considered later in the book.
There does not seem to have been any dispute about the identity of the gate skins, although it has recently been asserted that the regency itself constitutes a fourth gate. One problem, however, has been that of whether there is an order of precedence of the royal 'dukes', one having a superior right to succeed to Yendi. Some writers and participants hold that the Mion-lana is the senior of the three. Manoukian, citing David Tait as her authority, argues that 'the choice commonly falls on the Mionglana, who is, in fact, the heir presumptive'.
But these figures do not necessarily reveal the operation of a rule of precedence: there could be other ways of explaining the frequency of transition from Mion to Yendi. Those supporting the right of the Mion chief claim, however, that he has a specific prerogative which invariably gives him the right to Yendi. The prerogative in question is that of supervising the funerals of Ya-Nas. Accord- ing to a Dagomba sociologist, Dassana Iddi, 'the one chief occupying agate skin who is responsible [for carrying out the funeral] is the Mion-lana.
Customarily the chief who performs the Ya-Na's funeral becomes the next man on the skin. In these circumstances, the normal practice has been for the Mion-lana to succeed and for the eldest son to move on to the vacant Mion skin, in anticipation of succeeding next time. Finally, Iddi argues, the Mion-lana's seniority is demonstrated by the fact that he, alone of the gate chiefs, comes to Yendi to act as protector of the kingdom during an interregnum. Perhaps all one can say is that, on the whole, the Mion-lana is more likely than his peers to become Ya-Na; one cannot say with any certainty that there is an active rule which prescribes that he should.
There were, of course, disputes about the rights of candidates to be enskinned, and pressures of various kinds were undoubtedly applied to the selectors. But in present circumstances it is virtually impossible to talk about a 'proper' procedure, since there are conflicts over several crucial elements of selection. I have also described the ceremonies in some detail, not only because of their symbolic interest, but also because of the significance they have assumed in the recent dispute. Generally, as much as a year could elapse between the death of a Ya-Na and the installation of his successor.
The death of a paramount was not regarded by the Dagomba as a natural result of ageing; there was a strong tendency to suspect poisoning or witchcraft, inspired by rivals or enemies. Such disarray continued until anewkingwaschosen. The Kuga-Na made the first proclamation of the death of the king, at the house of a colleague, the Gullana. A more general announcement was made later, also by the elders, once the senior chiefs had been informed and the eldest surviving son had arrived in Yendi. At this point, usually about a month after the king's death, the regent normally the king's eldest son took over, with the title of gbonlana literally, 'owner of the skin'.
But divination might continue for some months, and the funeral would be postponed until agreement had been reached on the succession. The choice of a new Ya-Na was entrusted to a group consisting of three elders of Yendi Kuga-Na, Tuguri-nam, and Gomli , plus the Gushie-Na the chief of Gushiegu and a senior commoner divisional chief.
In principle, it was the latter who chose the new king, although in practice many diviners might be consulted, the elders sometimes shopping around until they could be sure of obtaining an oracular declar- ation favourable to the candidate they actually preferred. Certainly, they were seen as responsible for finding a chief with appropriate qualities. Thus one elder told Iddi that the spirits tended on the whole to favour the candidate 'whose reign will bring sufficient material gains, one who will feel himself bound by the advice of the elders'. The process of selection was bound up with the cycle of ritual leading to the funeral of the deceased Ya-Na.
Any gate chief wishing to 'apply' for the Yendi skin was expected to present to the king's relatives a set of objects for burial with the corpse. Presentation of this 'burial kit' consisting of the skins of a lion and a leopard and clothes in which to dress the body was regarded as a tacit declaration of the donor's wish to be considered as a successor; and rejection of it was regarded as rejection of his claim.
When divination had been completed, the funeral could be carried out. The ceremony involved the removal of the corpse, upright and dressed, through a hole in the wall of the royal compound to a grave in the royal burial chamber. On the way, the king was 'walked' over the body of a live cow. The corpse was washed and dressed; it was then buried along with the leopard's and lion's skins.
Food was left in the burial chamber for the dead king and the other royal spirits. Meanwhile, the elders responsible for selection would meet the Gushie-Na at Sakpiegu, north of Yendi, and confer with him about the succession. The decision they reached would be communicated to the principal divisional chiefs not in line for Yendi and the approval of these chiefs was sought-in- deed, it was essential if the new king was not to become involved in civil war. The Gushie-Na then proceeded to Yendi where he rode ceremonially three times around the burial chamber and then entered it, to emerge demon- strating grief.
His action was regarded as the final declaration that the pre- vious reign was over and that the regency was also at an end. Here, after a symbolic display of resistance by the royal bodyguard, the Gushie-Na seized three pieces of straw from the palace roof and handed one to the successful candidate. Then the Gushie-Na left Yendi, custom forbidding him to spend the night in the town after indicating the identity of the new king.
Each piece of regalia was guarded by a particular chief or elder as was the royal stool gbolon on which the king was required to sit three times while in the katini duu. Only the elders and chiefs who had already reached their 'termini' were allowed to be present in the hut when the installation was taking place. Subsequently, the new Ya-Na was led to the house of an elder, Zohe-Na, where he was formally kept as a 'prisoner' for a week, during which period Kuga-Na ruled the state.
After another few days' staying with Mbadugu the king's linguist , the Ya-Na was taken to the court where Muslim prayers were said and homage was paid by other chiefs and by commoners, the king sitting on the lion skin of a Ya-Na. The account is summary. It is also based on other people's investigations and, as a result, it may tend to overformalise the process and exaggerate the ritual element. Nevertheless, it is clear that there was ritual and that the symbolism was like that of many other coronations. Promotion was, of course, limited by the rule that no man could rise higher than his father, though he had no assurance of ever reaching his father's terminal rank.
Many offices were ranked in seniority and there was even a certain ranking of the three royal provinces. The western province was known as Toma' and was ruled from Savelugu by the Yo-Na: it was the largest and reputed to be the richest of the three Savelugu itself was, indeed, referred to as 'the Yendi of the west' Toma-naya'.
NOTE: The list above includes chieftaincies named in standard sources; it is by no means exhaustive and at best indicates only the more important posts. In respect of the latter, there were two broad categories: offices generally reserved for members of the royal patrician and offices open to commoners including elders.
Within the class of royal chieftaincies ya-na-bihe-nama , there was a distinction between posts generally restricted to sons of Ya-Nas doo-bihe- nama and those usually restricted to grandsons of Ya-Nas yanse-nama. The distinction seems to express historical convention rather than any rigid and explicit rule: the Ya-Na retained ultimate freedom of choice in appoint- ment.
Thus grandsons and great-grandsons could reach even the royal duke- doms, though they were ineligible to go on to Yendi-and, indeed, attracted the hostility of royal sons, for blocking access to the paramountcy. In general, as Tait remarks, grandsons yanse were regarded as a 'great nuisance', since they tended to make demands for skins to which they were not entitled.
Another convention was that Sunson, Yelzori, and Nanton, in principle commoner skins, were invariably held by ya-na-bihe. These were ranked in seniority, the eldest daughter usually holding Gundogo, the daughter occupying Kpatuya being her heir-presump- tive. Women became eligible for these posts only after having passed the menopause. Appointment againxlay in the discretion of the Ya-Na, although in practice Gushiegu was the preserve of one commoner patrilineage.
Tolon and Kumbungu were military posts, situated like most of the commoner chiefdoms in Western Dagomba, having been established soon after the conquest when the capital was still at Yendi Dabari. The Tolon-Na was head of the state cavalry, senior elder to the Ya-Na, and senior of the worizahonema, the twelve royal linguists. According to Tait, Sunson, Yelzori, and Nanton came next in seniority all in practice were, however, held by royals.
This is not to say that the two are necessarily opposed but only that the requirements of government cannot always be met by reliance upon kinsmen. Further, the hierarchical properties of the state are ultimately incompatible with the corporate character of the lineage. This development is partly a matter of expediency of setting the king apart from the rest of the lineage but is related to another problem of descent-based organisations, that of the uncertainties of inheritance in regard to the distribution of ability.
Hence the emergence of bodies of appointed officials, chosen by and responsible to the monarch. In Dagomba the emergence of an administra- tive class, the elders, helped, as Wilks points out, 'to differentiate the king in role, and not as hitherto only in rank, from other members of the ruling group'. However, the class of elders became more important and more powerful after the introduction of the rule limiting accession to the throne to the three royal dukes. The problem then was that the nobility especially those who had achieved divisional chieftancies tended to act independently.
Indeed, they are still said to be more powerful than the royal dukes: the latter must preserve their good names at Yendi if they are to become king, but the grandson divisional chiefs have little more to hope for. The royal administrative class was strengthened Wilks argues to control - or at least to watch - the activities of this nobility. The difficulty about such officials has often been that they seek to establish a hereditary right to their posts. Like many other kingdoms, Dagbon solved this problem by recruiting eunuchs or, more exactly, by creating them: the original Balo-Na, Kum-lana, Mba Malle, Gullana, and Zohe-Na were all, according to the 'drum history', young men castrated on the orders of the king and then taken into his service.
The more specific functions of elders may be seen in the accompanying table: some were judicial, others ceremonial, and others again domestic. There was a treasurer who was at the same time the mouthpiece of the Ya-Na Mbadugu. The elders were also responsible for bringing up the royal children. The latter were given only a limited Muslim education, or none at all a similar disdain towards or suspicion of European schooling was shown later by the officials of the Yendi court.
The Ya-Na did not normally leave Yendi and his movements were generally restricted by taboos. The government of Dagomba was therefore carried on from the royal court, notably through the Council of Elders, made up of nine officials and the king. Minor cases were often judged by a smaller tribunal, consisting of Zohe-Na, Mba Malle, and Kum-lana, plus Mbadugu, the king's mouthpiece. In major cases the council could impose a range of penalties, including enslavement and death the Ya-Na alone had the right to authorise executions, although, subject to his approval, the death sentence could be imposed by divisional chiefs.
The Council of Elders also advised the king on appointments to chieftaincies. This body met only on very important occa- sions, such as the outbreak of war. There was no regular consultation of the divisional chiefs by the paramount, legislation such as it was being formulated and enacted by the Council of Elders. Every divisional chief, even a royal duke, had to approach the king through the elder who was his patron at court. This relationship was symbolised by the fact that, no matter what his status, the chief normally addressed his court patron as 'ba' 'father'.
Tamakloe observes that when chiefs come to Yendi, they have to lodge with these eunuchs according to their rank as has been arranged. One was revenue from justice. The other source was money paid by candi- dates seeking appointment to chieftaincy the fee known as nam ligidi. Kuga- Na himself appointed to certain village chieftaincies and received money direct from candidates for these posts. For example, it is said that when Balo-Na dies or is promoted, he is generally succeeded by Mba Malle.
Both divisional and village-level commoner chieftaincies were within their grasp: those most commonly allotted to elders of Yendi seem to have been Tolon, Gulkpeogu, Kumbungu, and Lungbunga. Here again there appear to have been certain standard routes of promotion: Mbadugu, for instance, was normally regarded as heir to the divisional skin of Gulkpeogu.
Collectively, his elders and servants were known as nazonema 'the chief's friends'. Like the Ya-Na's elders, they were generally eunuchs of slave origin or the earliest were. As at Yendi, they were ordered in a titled hierarchy. The senior officials were the wulana literally, 'chief spear- bearer' and the kpanalana 'spear-bearer'. The wulana was a functional equivalent of Kuga-Na at Yendi: the senior adviser to the chief, his represent- ative in dealings with other chiefs, an arbitrator in disputes, and a judge or assessor in the court.
He was also an administrator, supervising the work of subordinate officials and allotting dutiestothem. Again, the elders took the role of patron for chiefs visiting the capital, in this case for village head- men. There was apparently no equivalent to the State Council at divisional level. Instead, subordinate chiefs came in to salute their superior usually on Mondays or Fridays and problems were sorted out individually, with the elders advising the divisional chief.
Divisional elders shared in the revenue from court cases and from appointments of chiefs, although, as has been noted, some part of this revenue usually found its way to Yendi. Christine Oppong describes graphically the complexion of politics at divisional level: When a chief travels on the ladder of the political hierarchy, he does not go alone, but takes with him servants, musicians, advisers, and relatives. These join the followers of his predecessors, who may have been serving his line for two or more generations of rulers.
Exchanges of services and favours, rights over women and children tend to bind the chief as royal patron to his followers, with the result that he has a considerable monopoly of professional services, trained labour, goods, and women. The chief may give female wards in his charge to his followers in return for their loyal services and they in turn may later give him the offspring of such marriages; the girls to be given in turn by him in marriage; the boys perhaps to come and serve him either as grooms, personal servants, or musicians.
Religious offices were performed either by the paramount himself or by the Muslim functionaries attached to the court. Although Islam only became the court religion in the eighteenth century, with the conversion of Zangina, at least one of the principal Muslim families, the Yidan Kambara, was prominent at the time of the move to Yendi, that is, in the reign of Na Luro.
This office is hereditary, like that of limam. Nevertheless, Dagomba never became theocratic. Islam was introduced well after the political structure of the kingdom had developed most of its essential features: 'the Muslims had therefore to be accommodated within an essentially non-Islamic system'. The royal children did not receive a full Koranic education and the limam to the paramount chief did not need to be especially well versed in the Koran.
As Tamakloe succinctly puts it: 'The Imamship. The foundation and reputation of Dagbon depended on its use of horses. The kingdom was surrounded by peoples on the savannah and in the hills who did not have a sophisticated political or military organisation. The Dagomba were therefore able to dominate or at least intimidate their neighbours by dispatching armed horsemen across the flat, open countryside of the north. Their raiding was checked only by the hills to the east and the forest to the south.
The Mossi and Mamprussi kingdoms, relations of Dagomba, developed their power by similar means. It was, as Wilks says, a power based firmly on the possession of horses and a knowledge of the techniques of cavalry warfare. Using their heavy armoured cavalry for defensive purposes, the real strength of the savannah kingdoms lay in their employment of light cavalry for long-range raiding.
Penetrating country where organised opposition was seldom encountered, battles were correspondingly rare; planners were concerned more with strategic than with tactical matters. The principal change was the formation of companies of foot musketeers the kambonse , with the assistance of the Ashanti. Each of the five major kambonse companies was headed by a kambon-na, with a commander-in-chief kambon-kpema drawn in turn from each of the villages near Yendi where the kambonse lived.
Rattray, always keen to find traces of Akan culture in the north, noted enthusiastically:'we are here dealing with institutions which have been copied from the Akan, and not vice versa'. Tait remarks that 'out of 45 principal titles. The kambonse supplemented the military resources of Dagomba, but they did not replace the mounted bowmen and spearmen on which it had previously relied. The cavalry was organised into companies, provided for the national army by the divisional chiefs, each of whom had a prescribed position in its order of battle.
The Ya-Na himself did not usually command the army in the field although he seems occasionally to have led raiding parties. He had to rely on the skill and support of his divisional chiefs for success in all major campaigns: only the kambonse at Yendi were in any sense his own troops. It is possible that the formation of this force served an ulterior purpose - that of strengthening the position of Yendi vis-a-vis the divisional chiefs.
But since the king's example was followed by the divisional chiefs, any marginal advantage he had thus gained over them was presumably lost. In the concluding section I shall try to draw these elements together and to relate them to certain broader questions, with a view to developing a comprehensive model of the dynamics of pre-colonial politics. First of all, we should ask how the political system was related to its environment. The economic setting was one of low-productivity subsistence agriculture and the population was thinly spread over the kingdom. Though the ruling class could extract some wealth from levies on trade, slave- raiding, and the exploitation of resources such as iron-ore and salt, the limits of appropriation were set essentially by the constraints of meagre agricultural production and a low level of technology.
Indeed, it was not a commodity at all. As Goody points out, 'under such conditions neither individuals nor kin groups bother to lay specific claims to large tracts of territory, since land is virtually a free good'. As Gluckman puts it, one man can eat only a limited amount of porridge: 'There was little trade and luxury, so even a conqueror could not make himself more comfortable than he had been before. One cannot build a palace with grass and mud, and if the only foods are grain, milk, and meat, one cannot live much above the standard of ordinary men.
There was little scope for material aggrandisement. Tribute in kind was paid to the local chiefs and the Ya-Na: subjects also worked on their chiefs' farms. The amount and frequency of tribute in either category cannot now be estimated with ac- curacy. As we shall see, the colonial government undertook an investigation of the subject in the s, for the purpose of establishing taxation the level of which was to be equivalent to that of the tribute previously given.
The administration concluded that, prior to the European occupation of the Northern Territories, there existed a well defined system of tribute from the people to their chiefs. A prescribed quantity of yams, corn and other foodstuffs was paid by the head of a compound to the local chief who retained his share and sent the remainder to the divisional chief. The latter, in his turn, took his portion and transmitted the residue to the paramount chief.
In this way the Dagombas recognised the right of their chiefs, as rulers on behalf of the community, to a share of the usufruct of the land. Furthermore, the chiefs were entitled to and received the free assistance of their people in the cultivation of their farms, as well as in the building and maintenance of their houses. Further supplies of labour were obtained through slave-raiding, conducted in the Konkomba area and, occasionally, in the north-west. Some of the slaves were kept to grow food for the royals, while others were sent to the south. Trade provided another source of wealth for the Dagomba state.
As we noted earlier, one of the main caravan routes from Ashanti to Hausaland passed through Yendi, and it is clear that the Dagomba paramounts were always anxious that commerce should continue and grow. Apart from the indirect benefits, their treasury profited greatly from the tolls levied on the roads and in the markets. Indeed, the Ya-Nas accepted a mild degree of sub- servience to the Asantehene, recognising the prosperity which the Ashanti connection had brought to the kingdom. Certainly, by the time of the partition, there had been severefightingwithin the kingdom, and travel through the area was generally regarded as hazardous.
Court fees and fines provided one source; payments by candidates for appointment to office were another. The elders, of course, siphoned off some of this income, in addition to the gifts they received from the chiefs for whom they acted as friend at court. In considering the 'inputs' sustaining the political system, we are inevit- ably brought back to the factors of military support and political allegiance, which in turn lead to an examination of the distribution of power.
It is clear that the Dagomba monarchy did not dispose of a powerful, centrally controlled army such as the Dahomean king, for example, commanded. Apart from its intermittent slave-raiding, Dagbon was not an especially aggressive state and when it was attacked as by Gonja and Ashanti its capacity for self-defence was not particularly impressive.
The use of mercenaries in the latter part of the nineteenth century was a striking revelation, as Northcott observed, of 'the poverty of the potentates in the country. Just as in medieval England at least as seen by Macaulay , resistance was an ordinary remedy for political distempers, a remedy which was always at hand, and which, though doubtless sharp at the moment, produced no deep or lasting ill effects.
Regular army there was none. Every man had a slight tincture of soldiership, and scarcely any man more than a slight tincture. The national wealth consisted chiefly in flocks and herds, in the harvest of the year, and in the simple buildings inhabited by the people. The calamities of civil war were confined to the slaughter on the field of battle, and to a few subsequent executions and confiscations. In a week the peasant was driving his team and the esquire wasflyinghis hawks.
As it was, however, Dagbon had many of the features of Southall's 'segmentary state'. In this sense, the structure was 'pyramidal' rather than 'hierarchical'. Rattray, indeed, described Dagbon as a'loose federation of semi-independent provinces': 'Each of these Divisions' i.
Each Division has an almost identical organization, the only distinction between them being that the Yendi Division is regarded as a kind of primus inter pares, with its Naalso nominally Na over all the others. The procedure for selecting the Ya-Na implicitly recognised this danger by providing for consultation of divisional chiefs before the successor was publicly nominated.
In principle, once a Ya-Na was appointed, he could neither abdicate nor be deskkined. But at least one Ya-Na Sumani Zoli was killed by a rival and others were threatened by intrigue and open rebellion. Yet, in a familiar paradox, the instability of the state was also the key to its survival: the disputes which afflicted it both arose from and validated its structure. For, 'where a large dynasty is involved in the military and civil government of a country, an element of ambiguity, of uncertainty, in the selection of a successor not only provides a spur to effort, but gives expression to the "corporate" character of the royal kin group'.
The result was persistent tension between senior and junior generations- between uncles, anxious to secure a title for their lines, and nephews, determined to succeed their fathers. This pattern was evident, in the nine- teenth century, in the struggle between Na Yakuba's sons and their uncles the Mion-lana, Yo-Na, and Sunson-Na and in the ensuing combat between Na Abudulai's son Karaga-Na Alhassan and his uncles and cousins.
These were the dynamics of competition within the dynasty, supplementing and to some extent coinciding with the dyna- mics of tension between central government and the peripheral centres of power. But conflict and rebellion seem to have had the overall effect of supporting the fundamental order through resolving the recurrent crises characteristic of the system, in the manner classically analysed by Max Gluckman. The Ya-Na himself could deploy considerable resources of patronage; his person was surrounded by the sanctity attaching to his office and to his status as senior member of the royal patrician; and he disposed of an, admittedly marginal, administrative and military advant- age as head of state.
As for the commoners, it may well be as Maquet claims that their rulers took more than they gave and that they did not pay for their privileges. Otherwise, the services of govern- ment were limited to external defence, justice, and spiritual leadership: most needs were, in fact, met from within the village. Even there, the chief was generally a transient figure, set on moving up to higher office and taking his courtiers with him when he did so. But the demands of the ruling class at least as they have been recorded were not enormous and, indeed, whatever sentiments of relative deprivation they may have provoked, the standard of living of the chiefs could not have been much higher than that of their subjects.
In any event, it was not internal revolution which upset thefinelystressed equilibrium of Dagomba politics, but the impact of a political system sustained by immeasurably greater military, economic, and technological resources: colonialism. We shall also explore aspects and consequences of the isolation of the Northern Terri- tories from the rest of the Gold Coast: this isolation. I shall suggest, led to the entrenchment in power of a group of officers whom, on account of their cohesion and independence, I shall refer to as 'the northern interest'.
These officers also had a distinctly pragmatic view of 'native administration', a topic to which we shall return in Chapter 4. The partition of the Dagomba kingdom was formalised on 14 November by the signing of a convention concerned with 'the settlement of the Samoan and other questions'. An earlier agreement delimiting British and German spheres of influence had made an equally magnificent sweep of the imperial globe: an agreement, as its title grandly stated, 'respecting Africa and Heligoland'. Group dynamics also explain why the children are able to cope with the begging environment as they always want to join one another where they can hang out freely with their colleagues Abebe, ; Ballet et al.
Repackaging begging to mean work or business as in Ethiopia and Ghana is also another technique of coping that the beggars adopt Abebe, ; Kassah, to erase the stigmatisation label and then feel dignified Kassah, Studies have made significant insights into the stressors of child begging including in the context of child rights Einarsdottir, et al, , but what enables the children to cope in spite of the adversities has not been given much attention as most studies are inclined to the stressors.
Additionally, there are few studies from the perspective of Muslim child beggars who are staying with their parents Ballet et al. The available literature on begging looks at it in the context of those who are with the mallams or the marabouts for Quranic studies with the focus mainly in the capital cities ignoring what happens in rural areas.
This study addresses three related research questions: What are the stressors and resources experienced by Muslim child beggars who live with their parents in Dagbon, Ghana? Of all the surrounding villages where it is located in Dagbon , it is virtually the only community whose children are engaged in begging, and within the community, it is only Muslim boys who are involved in begging.
Data collection was conducted by the first author, a native Dagbani speaker, so there was no need for an interpreter. The wider study involved three mallams , six parents and eight children. In this article, only data from the children are used. In this community, it is only boys who are involved in begging and this age group was chosen because, in this district, most child beggars fall within this age range.
A young mallam was the gatekeeper to access the community; he identified the potential participants. They signed the consent and assent forms with the first author when he met them.
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The gatekeeper played significant role in organising the children during the research activities. The first was something that makes him like begging and the second was something that makes him hate begging. These discussions were recorded and transcribed. Responses from all the participants were recorded and stored in a password-protected computer to ensure that the information was confidential and as a guarantee of their anonymity.
In the transcribed documents, only pseudonyms were used so the identities of the participants could not be traced. Data were analysed using Attride-Stirling thematic network analysis through the use of open code, which is a computer software that facilitates the coding of raw data. The final two steps of thematic network analysis involved exploring the links between the themes and interpreting the patterns.
Research with children is a delicate matter, therefore, permission was first sought from the Norwegian Social Sciences and Data Services NSD before the research was carried out in Ghana. Participants were briefed on the purpose of the research and content of the consent forms was translated into Dagbani and read to all of them before the children signed the assent forms whilst their parents signed the consent forms. They were told that the information they give was going to be confidential and also pseudonyms would be used in place of their names and the name of the community throughout the work for anonymity purposes.
All participants were told they could decide not to answer a question if they did not want to and could also withdraw from participation any time they wished. The research was carried out during the farming season and since all participants of the research were peasant farmers, a convenient time was chosen for the children so that they did not lose farming hours. The first author, with the consent of the participants, fixed Friday for the research activities because it was their less busy day.
In explaining the meanings of their drawings which symbolise the things that make them hate begging, it emerged that all the children encountered multiple negative experiences in the field as beggars. The children reported negative experiences such as being insulted, chased by dogs, frightened by monkeys and sometimes beaten by people. For example, Kabsu said they always meet dogs in the villages where they go to beg and they have been barked at or chased innumerable times by these dogs.
He narrated how frightening the situation is when dogs start to bark at him or are advancing dangerously towards him with their teeth exposed. Participants, Jacob and Suale , narrated how they encountered monkeys on separate occasions in their begging expeditions. They expressed their bewilderment why people keep monkeys in their homes when they are supposed to be in the bush. It was in the house and immediately I entered it rushed on me so I took to my heels. Other daily negative experiences that confront these children are insults from their colleagues and adults from the places where they go to beg.
This issue of insults was reported by four of the children. These verbal aggressions sometimes are intolerable so they will react which undoubtedly lands them into worse situations. They explained that sometimes people stare at them as if they are not human beings, a behaviour they described as extremely irritating. In explaining how he got himself into trouble, Mashud recounted how he was insulted by a girl and he was so annoyed that he had to chase her until he got her and gave her a knock on the head.
He said begging on that day was truncated because he was mercilessly beaten by some adults in the village and the only option for him was to go back home. Only two participants mentioned being beaten but it shows the potential for insults to turn into physical aggression. Additionally, these child beggars reported their exposure to a range of weather conditions from extreme heat to torrential rains.
The first author observed some child beggars leaving the village one-day morning at One of them said for him if he does not go his father would cane him and all of them said they would like to be in school. The participants also reported that their parents force them to go and beg.
It appears as though begging is a routine and obligatory activity from the standpoint of the parents. So, days that the children want to absent themselves will be the days they are at loggerheads with the parents. I think we should stop it but it is imposed on us that is why. Missing school and its implications also emerged as stressors to the child beggars. Abdulai stated that anytime he sees students going to school, he looks at himself who is also a student but left school to beg in the villages. He indicated that it will definitely affect their future academic endeavours because as they are not regular in school they will miss a lot in class.
For him, the adults should have been those involved in begging whilst they, the younger ones, stay in school. Anytime I go to beg and see them it pains me as to why I am not in school but involved in begging making me become angry and demoralised. I think that our parents should be the ones to beg since we are children it is not just good that we are engaged in begging.
This idea about the need for them to be in school was expressed by all the eight children in this study. They explained that their gains in begging are transient because a time will come when they will have to stop because they will have grown above the begging age. They indicated that attainment of formal education or employable skills will be important to their lives. Regardless of the difficult conditions, the child beggars continue begging.
This part of the article looks at the positive resources that these children draw on to cope. Firstly, the children see begging as a form of assistance that they render towards the upkeep of their families. Six out of the eight boys indicated that begging helps their families in terms of food. Providing food for the family is like a shared responsibility between them and their parents. Zaaku indicated that he usually goes to beg without being told when he sees that the food is about getting finished.
As I am going it helps the family because the maize I will bring will be what my mother sometime uses to prepare food. Zaaku indicated that since the family is poor, his desire is to beg and get enough money to buy a commercial vehicle which will yield money for the sustenance of the family. As unrealistic as the desires of Zaaku may be, it shows how the children negotiate their way into the hierarchies of their families where they regard themselves as part of the responsibility network to strive for the family good.
Secondly, the children use begging for their personal gains. They reported that through begging they can buy things that they want because sometimes their parents give them money but it will not be enough or they do not give them at all. In such instances, it is through begging that they get the money needed. Related to the monetary gains is the issue of examination fees. All the children except one, mentioned examination fees as one of the ways begging is helpful to them because it enables them pay to write examinations at the end of each academic term.
Begging, from their reports, enables them to meet their educational aspirations, which have direct links to their future prosperity. If you are able to pay the exam fees you will be able to write the exams which helps you to measure how you have understood what you have been taught. Even though they get money from begging, it is not an exciting economic activity to them and they wished they were in school. People will not give one or five pesewas the minimum they will give is 10 pesewas but it will not also be possible for them to give 20 or 50 GHC note so the maximum we always expect is 10GHC.
Through begging, they buy mobile phones, bicycles, DVDs for movies and prepare their own food. Indeed, when the children came to the school for the research activities, the first author noticed that two of them had mobile phones. Jacob mentioned Ataaya tea prepared from local herbs and preparation of rice as some of the reasons he continues to beg even though it is difficult.
However, Kabsu reported that some of his colleagues go to beg for no apparent reason and a few of the children indicated that they are not being coerced to beg but they do it on their own accord. Five out of the eight children said they know they will not continue to be beggars for life. That they know their status as beggars was a temporal one and they will soon grow out of it. Finally, families and friends of these children also play a major role in their continuous begging. They sometimes talk to the children in a manner that will definitely compel them beg.
In expressing what makes him like begging, Awal said he begs because of what he told him some time ago. He told him to help by going to beg because he father was poor and would not be able to cater for their needs. He called me one day and told me to assist him because it will be difficult for him to take care of us so I should start to go and beg. He explained to me that begging was not bad for children because they also begged when they were children.
My friends always tell me that begging is not a bad thing and that we do it because we are children that, when we are grown we will stop it. And when they go and come back you see them buying a lot of things which they could not have bought if they had not gone to beg. The discussion of the findings will be framed by the research questions addressed in this article.
Participating child beggars mentioned many stressors they experienced daily such as physical dangers, psychological abuse and insults. One stressor that was raised by all the participants was how begging interrupted their schooling. The participants clearly understood that this will affect their future circumstances. Noting that begging was a temporary business engagement, they believed education is the best pathway out of poverty.
The problem of their interrupted attendance to school is further compounded by the fact that in this district, the quality of education has not been good. It is ironic that one of the reasons for their involvement in begging is to pay for their academic activities such as examinations. This casts doubts as to whether the government has the capacity to implement fully the provisions of these child rights documents.
This then implies that if the children are not educated, it will be difficult for them to fit into the labour market when they reach the age of employment into the formal sector and that can affect their wellbeing. Schooling and child labour are incompatible and a negative correlation is established between child labour and educational achievement IPEC, It is argued that children who are involved in begging perform poorly in school because the combination of work and academics leads to poor school attendance rates which invariably affect their success at completion Helleiner, ; Manjengwa et al.
Ekong notes that when children are involved in child labour, it affects their class participation which directly affects their performance and they withdraw from school to engage in child labour.
This will definitely have long-term consequences on the children as adults in relation to their economic circumstances. Available records show that poor academic achievement consequently leads to poor jobs that do not conform with basic decent living criteria IPEC, One can project that with the current academic levels of the children, their future educational prospects towards achieving better living conditions may be greatly affected. There are some factors that enable these children to continue to beg despite the difficulties they experience as child beggars. For the children, it is not an unending task but there is terminal point to it and that is when they reach a certain age.
This age factor in relation to begging confirms findings from studies on child beggars in Ethiopia and Ecuadorian Andes Abebe, ; Swanson, For the children in Ecuadorian Andes, the threshold age is 14 after which they are no longer tolerated in the streets. The children have also developed a social network that has a listening ear and a supportive heart and they share their problems with one another.
Some of the children indicated that they are able to continue to beg because their friends have been supportive by giving them words of encouragement. They share their food and material possessions with their colleagues and show love and concern for one another. This implies that the children will have emotional and psychological stability to operate as beggars in spite of the difficulties associated with it. Additionally, for the children, part of their responsibility was to ensure that there was food for the family. They see themselves as an integral part of the family structure and its sustenance is a collective responsibility.
This assertion being held by these children is similar to that of the child beggars in the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who also indicated that they were not being abandoned by their parents and that they were begging for the livelihood of their families Abebe, These children have a sense of motivation in begging for the family perhaps to carve out an identity and a position within the family hierarchy. Child rights approaches advocate that children should be removed from begging, but as begging gives them responsibility and status within the family, what alternative approaches could provide children with similar opportunities ought to be integrated into the debate.
Thorsen also articulates that taking the children off begging without a tangible substitute of the meaning and status that they attach to their act of begging will breed worse outcomes. In West and Central Africa, children who are involved in begging derived a kind of meaning and responsibility from it especially the contribution they make to the family.
It is like a form of initiation by means of indoctrination where parents tell their children to start begging to help the family and that it is not a bad act so detaching them from it will be a herculean task. Sections 87 a and b of the same act advocate for the protection of children against economic exploitation and from doing dangerous works. Many societies in the traditional set-up maintain that integrating children into the working environment is one of the means through which they are empowered to endure the challenges of life as they grow up to take extra responsibilities in their homes Afua, These are the competing realities when it comes to child rights issues in Africa.
However, Doek believes that having legislative instruments alone do not alter the existing realities about the plight of children and the challenge is the availability of human and financial resources for their implementation. As noted by Okyere et al. With the ailing economies of African states, governments find it difficult to provide the basic necessities of life to its citizenry. However, as it is the responsibility of parents to take care of their children, the state also shares the blame if the physical, mental, moral and educational needs of the child are not met.
Child labour takes various forms in Ghana ranging from working in farms, mining, fishing and sometimes domestic works as part of the production network of the family Clerk, Begging is one of the worst forms of child labour IPEC, It is indicated that parents are the ones who often decide that their children should go and beg rather than the children themselves Lynch, Also in India, Kaushik observes that parents coerce their children to engage in begging.
The testimonies show that the children were active participants in the upkeep of their families but none of the child rights documents places responsibility on the child to take care of his family. The defect with this article is that it does not specify the nature and form of respect that children are required to uphold. Begging, especially by children, is prohibited by the laws of Ghana because it infringes on their rights. Engagement of the children in begging at the expense of their academic pursuits is an infringement on their rights to education and good health a contravention on the provisions of the CRC, ACRWC and Act of Ghana.
The author notes that in Ghana, the concept of childhood is indeterminate, as customary law departs from international law regarding that concept. In the Beggars and Destitute Act G. However, invoking the penal part of the act, that is Section 2, is a passive legal rhetoric as it is rarely heard. One critical aspect worth noting here is that the voices of the children are often supressed by the dominant discourses of NGOs, agencies and organisations at national and international levels that are championing child rights. As Milne observes, children are not consulted when it comes to determining issues that concern them and the discourses are adult machinations, which do not reflect the real position of the children.
In this study, though the children expressed desire to be in school, they also noted that part of their obligation within the family hierarchy was to ensure the availability of food. Child begging has issues to do with parental responsibility and the underlying reason for parents sending their children to beg was poverty. Indeed, the Northern Region of Ghana is one of the impoverished regions in the country. Both the CRC and Act , the provisions of which Ghana purports to uphold, enjoin the state to support parents in taking care of their children but they are mute on the specificity of assistance and the measures that parents can take to access the assistance if the state reneges on its responsibility.
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That lack of clarity in those documents gives the state a leeway to escape from its mandatory duty of ensuring that the physical, social and cognitive developmental needs of the child are well catered for. The authors also observe that Dagomba parents exhibit a natural tendency of showing affection to their biological children. Surprisingly, all the children in this study were living with at least one of their parents and yet they were begging to the detriment of their academic progress.
However, their observation could mean that such affection thrives under sound economic circumstances but not precarious living conditions as experienced by the parents in this study. One of the limitations of this study is the low number of participants but even with that we were able to reach saturation during the interviews. The study could have been improved by including the school teachers of these children.
That would have enabled comparison of academic performance between the regular child beggars on the one hand and the non-regular and non-begging children on the other hand. The article has established that the stressors the child beggars face as they engage in begging are numerous. These include psychological abuse, physical stressors and involvement in acts which have long-term consequences. All these factors affect the economic, educational and social lives of the child beggars.
However, there are resources at their disposal to help them mitigate the effects of the stressors. The fact that their families are beneficiaries of their toils motivates these children to beg. Friends of these children and their understanding of begging to be temporal also enable them to continue with the act. You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format.
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