Our three-year-old’s favorite Bible story is – no surprise here – David & Goliath. She loves the part where he swings the sling and tosses the rock, hitting Goliath. Here she is narrating it at the dinner table:
Slingshots are common in northern Ghana but are usually the “Dennis the Menace” type with a forked branch and a rubber sling tied between them.
In the old days before rubber was introduced, the Mamprusi made and used slings much like what David would have had in 1 Samuel 17. Occasionally, I find someone with one of these traditional or “old-school” slings.
In eastern Mamprugu they call these slings “kalɔbiga” meaning ‘millet thrower’ because they are used to throw stones at birds trying to eat sown millet seeds in farm. I had always assumed the intention was to hit the birds with the stones. However, the release of the stone also makes a loud popping sound as the rope snaps back. This sound scares off the birds even if the stone comes nowhere near them.
Here’s a short clip of a Mamprusi boy using one to scare off birds from his family’s farm. Notice the snap or pop sound when he hurls it. If this were are leather sling and not just woven vines, it would have been much, much louder.
This year’s Fire Festival in Nalerigu was a fun one. After the NaYiri kick started the festivities by throwing the throngs of youth got crazy.
I took photos of the torch toss so the video below only shows the NaYiri’s arrival and then the rush of people (and police) after the flames.
NaYiri throwing fire:
Images from the after-party:
I’ve always been a bit scared of hippos. I think it started in Ivory Coast when a missionary shared a horrific testimony about being attacked by a hippo. Then in 2008, I saw a hippo attack victim first hand at BMC (and I saw ‘justice’ served to the aggressor).
The hippopotamus is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the world because it is so aggressive and unpredictable. Add to that the statistic that they kill about 3000 (!) people a year and you’ll understand why I was hesitant to get in a dug-out canoe and approach them on the Black Volta. Nonetheless, after a bit of research I understood the importance that Wechiau plays to protecting these large, amphibious creatures in Ghana and wanted to support that community with a visit and some advocacy.
Last October, at the very end of rainy season, Nils and I hiked to the White Volta rapids north of Gambaga. There we found the engorged river roaring over an impressive rock formation. We decided then that we’d come back at the end of dry season to see the difference.
Nils and our friend Richard Jangdow joined me this time. The hike was a long one (9.5 miles, in & out) and it was blazing hot (108°F in the shade) but we made it and enjoyed soaking our feet in the water. Comparing the photos from this trip and the last one, I’m surprised that it wasn’t that much lower – probably a meter at most.
After hanging out at the rapids, we headed back to the hunter’s camp about two and a half miles east and the ferryman offered to give us a canoe ride up the river. I hung back and flew my drone to get shots of them in the boat.
Here’s KJ enjoying one of our first early rain storms as rainy season approaches.