Saturday, 18 December 2010

National Farmers' Day

3 December 2010
It is a national holiday in Ghana but this is the day on which Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is supposed to work with their whole heart and minds. I can say that the staff of district directorate of MoFA in Bongo district did work with their whole heart and minds on that day. It is the day when the best performing farmers are awarded.
The program in Bongo district went on quite well on that day. Saadat, my friend at MoFA, took me and my VSO friend Rose to the event, which was to take place in a distant village. As I work with many people of MoFA, my presence on the day was welcomed by them and they gave me a seat in the dignitaries section, which might be a Solemiya effect (special privilege being a foreigner). The program started with prayers like most of the programs here do. Then followed the speech of the District Chief Executive, the highest political authority for the district and the Bonaaba, the traditional paramount chief of Bongo.
Paramount Chief of Bongo delivering the speech
What followed afterwards was drumming and dancing which was not very pleasant to my ears at least. What irritated me the most during that drummers dance was the way money was offered to them as a tip. The drummers came in front of the guests and played their drums while some of the guests thumped the notes on the foreheads of the drummers. They did not seem to mind it at all about it because I think it was money after all. Because of their constant movement, the notes that were being thumped on their foreheads were falling on the ground before they could catch up. Seeing this, one of the guest tried to stick the note on the drops of the sweat of one of the drummers forehead, which I thought was the insult to the basic dignity of the person but nobody seemed to mind it.
After this drummers dance, came a dancing and singing party of local women which was little more bearable and as they were not professional, I think the group did not go much for the tips. In spite of these I should say at least I could get a proper idea about the style of traditional dance and music of Bongo District. Most of the dances involve a lot of jumping and bending in knees. Then there was competition of eating bread and tug of war. They had also arranged for women's tug of war but not many women from other communities were present to form an opponent team so it ended up with local women's team getting the prize without having to fight.
Bread eating competition

Various farmers in the district were given prizes. The crop farmer's prize included fertilizer bags, pesticides; livestock farmers' prize included various veterinary medicines and fisherman's prize included fishing nets. The Best Farmer of the district was given a motorcycle. I was told that if one wins the prize of the Best Farmer at the regional level then one gets a tractor.

Samples from Prize winning farmers’ crops
Prize Distribution

The program ended with some more speeches and food which was given to some few guests. I heard the girls distributing coupons discussing with their boss whether that white man (they were talking about me) is eligible for the lunch coupon. I further heard her boss telling that he is (I was). Having eligible for plain rice with stew, a big piece of fried chicken and bottle of beer, I took the lunch pack and came back with Sadat, who further negotiated with the chop bar owner to exchange my beer bottle with that of Fanta as afternoon was just turning up and I did not feel like drinking the beer. Chop bar lady must have been very happy to do that. We had a nice chat over lunch and properly ended our Farmers' Day.