Azuwera is a community in the Bawku west District of the Upper East Region with a population far less from the population of my village. You may ask what sent me there and you will not cause any nuisance.
In the pursuit of my academic journey to obtaining a bachelor degree in BSc. Computing-with- Accounting, I had to pass through a program called Third Trimester Field Practical Program which students sarcastically refers to as ‘Travel to Face Proper Punishment’. In fact, a nice program by one of the best universities in Ghana but it takes a student who is a student to pass through the program successfully. A program that can make a student draw a line of similarity between the length of a week to that of a year. Azuwera is a small community with majority of her indigenes being peasant farmers. The most dominant ethnic group in the community is the Kusaasi ethnic group with their route of migration from Burkina Faso as we were told.
A stressful journey on a bumpy road of potholes to the community will welcome you with graves in front of almost every house mostly covered with clay pots that are turn turtle. A community of rocky land making the indigenes to place unmeasurable amount of premium on Bullocks over tractors for Agricultural purposes. A highly religious community with faiths and beliefs distributed among the three main religions; Christianity, African Traditional Religion and Islamic Religion with subscription in terms of followership according to the arrangement.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS Customs and traditions which are revered by the people and worth more than black diamonds are worth sharing with folks. Performing funeral rites and marriage is very expensive in that land of few. The performance of the funeral rites of an elderly person calls for the contribution of goats by every living soul in the house for onward slaughter. It is not unusual to see them in jubilant and dancing mood singing dirges and traditional songs at funeral grounds.
Dancing as an exercise the people also know, always make provision for the replacement of loss water with calabash of pito like the way Accountants make provisions for bad debts. A clever way of providing for dehydration, isn’t it? As a young bachelor who had a dream to end his singlehood and find a soul mate who will land him into eternal prison was shattered because of what the people use in the payment of dowry. Money as having the intrinsic value it has and Schnapps as having the pleasant taste it has in the mouth of a drunkard do not entice the people in the payment of dowry, but cows do. You have to present four or five cows to parents before a greenlight can be given for marriage.
Put in ratio terms, four cows is to one Woman (4:1). Cows are very expensive, aren’t they? to further weaken your domestic economy that will culminate in the call for a bail out from the International Monetary Fund is the probably desire for the addition of goats, sheep, guinea fowl, and pito for refreshment at the knocking ceremony. Marriage can be very difficult than getting an A+ mark in Real Analysis in Azuwera and expensive than the acquisition of United States Visa. The festival celebrated by the people is the annual ‘samanpid’ festival at Bawku by the whole Kusaasi kingdom normally around December to give thanks to God for a bumper harvest.
THE DEBT OWED BY THE POLITICIAN. Azuwera is disconnected from Ghana, nonetheless, trust me it gets connected on general election days. I am sorry to say that staying in Azuwera is tantamount to living in darkness. Over there, you will know that some citizens of Britain participated in a referendum for a nonmember status of the European union without understanding the implications neither you will know that Akuffo Addo has promised to reduce drastically utility tariffs in 2017 should he win power nor you will know that President Mahama has promised to put money into peoples’ pockets in his second term because his first term was for the stabilization of the economy or even Abu Ramadan and his trilogy. All you will know is 7th November 2016, thanks to the politician. “How often do you see your member of parliament?” I asked. “we do not see him unless election days “he answered. His voice was a balanced mixture of anger and disappointment.
The member of parliament for the area is a long serving member in the Ghanaian legislature and a fine brain in the Ghanaian political landscape, nevertheless, the debt owed by him to the people of Azuwera is heavier than Ghana’s public debt to Gross Domestic Product Ratio.
The debt is such a humongous one! I know he might have done something for the people yet there is still much debt to be cleared because to whom political power is given, tackling development challenges head-on is expected. It is important to place on record that the community is connected to the national grid through the Ghana Rural Electrification Project by the ministry of energy and petroleum. The community lacks inadequate classroom block to the extent that primary three pupils are housed in a seed storage facility that were funded by the European Union to prevent post-harvest losses thanks to the brainy ideas of the Headmaster.
A structure meant for the storage of excess harvest is now used for the ‘storage’ of school pupils but who is to be blamed? Your guess is as good as mine. Not to be rude, but do not expect me to write about the computer literacy of the pupils which is now a major necessity in this 21st century when there is no adequate infrastructure for the students. If the second lady, Her ladyship Madam Matilda Armissah Arthur, will be patient to ply a road of potholes with her fuel consuming v8 to donate computers to the school, the headmaster would have been exceedingly gay not to even request dusters from her not to talk of chalk.
The politician(s) and the ilk owes the people of Azuwera their fair share of the national cake because the name of the community is sitting boldly in the register of the electoral commission and they also pay the tax the ordinary Ghanaian cannot default, the indirect tax. My heart bleeds profusely for the huge development gap but will jump when the gap is closed. How I wish rapid development could reach the place like the way ‘mightylele’ by my favorite dancehall artist Stonebwoy travels all the way from the studios in Accra to the nook and cranny of the country? Only the politician and the duty bearer knows.
CONCLUSION. Third trimester field practical program may carry the same odium as any other stressful program yet it has something to be learned from. Students are exposed to tools used in research work, working with a team of different people, the tolerance of divergent views, living with people of different backgrounds, appreciating the plight of our rural inhabitants which may become a guiding principle to lead with compassion and serve wholeheartedly should you become a leader in the future and so on.
Passing through the program may be a herculean task, nonetheless, it brings some experiences and lectures which otherwise would not have been thought in a lecture hall. Of course, I would not debate with you relative to the hardships the program brings because I am not a good debater but we must be careful not to cut our nose to spite our face. In fact, my heart appreciates the grievous concerns of my colleague students but my soul is against the scrapping of the program. I am not for the scooping of the program, nay, to talk of scrapping it. All in all, UDS and TTFPP thought me a lot and I have learned a lot. I may be a struggling undergraduate Computing-with-Accounting toddler yet it still denies me not the right to suggest that the program go through restructuring ranging from the problem of accommodation to the duration of weeks on the field.
To the community, through University for Development Studies, group 403 has written for you a development intervention base on your core problem. We fervently hope and pray that it does not gather dust on the shelves at the District Assembly in Zebilla. I will forever miss Azuwera! It brings back into memory how I used to use your tasty water from the borehole to push one of your dish called ‘five fingers’ down my throat. We are grateful for your masterful show of hospitality especially Mr. Akolgo for the warm reception he and the family gave us, we owe you a great debt of gratitude.
To my group, we met as a family knowing not one another. The arguments and the counter arguments at meetings where TTFPP always emerges the victor and not the vanquished is what I will miss. I hope we meet somewhere someday in life again.
Alhassan A. Alhassan, 2016; (Minority Chief Whip, UDS Navrongo campus students’ parliament).
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