Harmattan Haze

During our dry season we get northeasterly winds called harmattan that bring dust from the Sahara. Sometimes it causes clouds of dust to descend upon us and linger for days. It obscures the sun and coats everything in the house with a fine layer of dust. The worst we had seen to date in Nalerigu was back in early January 2015.

This past weekend set a new record for our time here with an incredible haze that filled the air.

Our house from 30 meters up

I flew my drone up and recorded some video along a route I filmed back in August when rainy season was nearing its end and everything was green. Keep in mind that this footage is of the same place (east of Nalerigu towards the creek) and at the same time of day (late afternoon) only four months later.

2017 Family Photo & Prayer Card

It’s been a year since our last family photo and we need to update our family’s prayer card since the kids are growing fast!

You can download a hi-res version printable 4×6 version of the card via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1dl016yzv04hswp/2017-haun-family-prayer-card.jpg

If you’d like to just download a hi-res version of our 2017 family photo, it’s available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9tsmprupuv10tcd/20171125RWH8071.jpg

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Gaba, the “Adulterous Widow” Charm

Before I get into the story behind gaba charms, I probably have to explain what I mean by an “adulterous widow.” In Tony Naden’s Mampruli dictionary, he defines the unique Mampruli word gaba as “a widow who has sexual relations with another man before her late husband’s funeral.”

Heidi visits with women at a final funeral performance.

In Western cultures we usually hold funerals soon after the deceased passes so the idea of “cheating” on your unburied husband seems a bit absurd. However, the Mamprusi hold two funerals (or three, depending on how you count) for their deceased. The final funeral can occur months or even years after the deceased has been buried. That extended length of time makes a widow’s impatience a bit more understandable but it is, nonetheless, considered an immoral act by the Mamprusi. She must show her late husband honor by abstaining from sex until his final funeral has been performed.

If a woman commits this taboo (and is caught) she is labeled a gaba and considered to be so wicked that her mere gaze can cause harm. The most commonly held superstitious belief about a gaba is that if she looks at a sick person then he or she will die. That is terrifying considering that you never know who might actually be an adulterous widow.

But wait! There’s a cure!

It is believed that if one takes a scrap of cloth belonging to a gaba and ties it to his wrist or ankle when he is sick, then he will be protected from the evil gaze of an adulterous widow. This magical charm is also called a gaba.

This belief is seen in practice every day at the Baptist Medical Centre of Nalerigu, Ghana.

Trey’s friend Latif was sick with typhoid and wore a gaba in the hospital.

Look closely at patients’ wrists and ankles and you’re likely to see a scrap of cloth tied as a bracelet or anklet. Usually a relative brings the patient the gaba when they visit him or her in the wards.

I’ve asked around to find out how people get these in the first place. No one sells the scraps of cloth (seems like an untapped business opportunity if one were a gaba) but instead people have a habit of stealing cloth from known adulterous widows when they are washing their clothes or bathing. Those cloths are torn into scraps and shared among friends and family who hold onto them until the day comes when they are needed by a loved one who has fallen ill.

Time to Setup that Christmas Tree!

Every year we do a little timelapse video of our Christmas decoration. Last year we got fancy and made a 360° video version. This year we went back to the basics and just set the camera on the tripod.

See all the past years’ below: Read More

Nyin ni i zɔ diri la din malisa, ka nyin ni i dɔ'ara diri din tɔa

You and your friend get what’s sweet and you and your relation gets what’s bitter.

Mampruli Proverb

Dry Season Mystery Spots

Here’s a puzzle for you! Have a look at the satellite image above which was taken in December 2016. Notice all the white spots scattered across it?

Below is the same aerial view taken in the rainy season. Notice that the white spots are missing?

So what do you think the spots are? Scroll down after the jump for the answer!

** ANSWER BELOW **
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