These Are My Friends: Kulibidaana

Two months ago my friend BaaMejida was enskinned as a chief and given the name Kulibidaana (“Little River Owner”). Here in Mamprugu it is the custom to only call him by his new name. In fact, it is considered so disrespectful to call a chief by his old name that you can be sent to the court of the paramount chief and fined.

Kulibidaana is a quiet, elderly man with a brilliant smile. Even with his new chieftaincy title, he is still humble and puts up with me accidentally breaking protocol when greeting a chief. He also has the furriest dog in town and Trey is quite fond of it.

In the portrait above, he is sitting on his new chieftaincy skins. The day a chief is enskinned (think “crowned”) a cow or sheep are killed and skinned. Those skins are the ones he sits on from then on and are symbolic of the weight of his title.