No. 30, January 2005
The Bi-annual Newsletter of the Tamale Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies, ISSN
P.O. Box 1012 Tamale, N.R., Ghana. Ph 233-71-22914 Fax 22836 E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org Net: http://www.ticcs.com/
Even though we at TICCS were ready to begin our new MA programmes in
October, 2004 the programmes did not begin as planned due to various
complications outside of our control. Overall we had two successful applications,
one for each programme. Clearly, this was not enough of an enrolment to run
the programmes so we decided to bide our time and prepare for a 2005 opening.
We are now planning to move ahead with the programmes in 2005 and anticipate
that by this time all the complications will be resolved.
TICCS Goes Power Point
TICCS is modernizing its lectures and presentations by putting them on power
point. The new format is exciting, the sensory input makes the lectures easier to
follow, and they say it makes it easier for the students to remember the material.
It is certainly easier for us, the lecturers, since we don’t have to fumble with
notes, and it brings us back to the main track when discussions throw us off. We
have had our projector or ‘beamer’ for more than a year without using it much
because it has taken a lot of time to learn how to use the equipment and to re-
write the presentations. Thusfar we have completed about half of our current
presentations. Those attending our next orientation and introduction courses will
be treated to a new experience.
There are now more than 19,000 books on the shelves and another 2,000
second or third copies in our library store room. We are trying to interest other
libraries in exchanging some of these for their second copies. All the books and
journal articles have been catalogued on the computer and we are slowly putting
together the card catalogues. More and more people around Ghana are
discovering what a great resource we have in this specialised library. Our
records show 100 users in 2004.
TICCS is still waiting for the official report of the National Accreditation Board
concerning our status for offering postgraduate studies. The report was to be
given following the recommendations of the delegation which paid us a visit in
March 2004. The wheels of change move ever so slowly here in Ghana. We are
told that the delays are due to the fact that several of the NAB members have
been replaced during this time and the two representatives from UDS have not
yet been appointed. They are the ones on the scene here in Tamale and the
NAB cannot vote on TICCS without their representation. Delays with UDS
appointments are due to the fact that UDS administration is at the moment
overburdened and under-resourced and that their first choices for the NAB are
held back with other commitments. We have been assured that all will be
resolved ‘successfully’ in the New Year.
We wish to thank outgoing Board Members Fr. Kofi Ron Lange SVD and Fr.
Christopher Bazaanah for their six years of service on the TICCS Board. Fr.
Kofi will stay on as the official secretary of the Board by virtue of his position as
the assistant director. Fr. Pat Moroney has accepted the Board slot to replace
Fr. Kofi and we are awaiting Archbishop Kpiebaya’s new appointee to replace Fr.
Bazaanah. The new Board includes the following members:
1. TICCS Director: Fr. Kirby
2. (to be named)
3. Dr. Michael Aburiya (UDS)
4. Fr. Martin Moasayiri (SVS)
5. Fr. Fred Timp (SVD)
6. Fr. Pat Moroney (SVD)
7. Mr. Joseph Budu (ACMC)
Visit to ACMC
In August 2004 the TICCS director was present at Akrofi-Christaller Memorial
Centre (ACMC) during the final assessment of the NAB to recognize ACMC as a
fully chartered Ghanaian university. The encounter with NAB went exceptionally
well. During the visit, Professor Kwame Bediako assured the TICCS director of
his concern that the new ACMC/TICCS MA programme would get started in
October 2005. He explained that with ACMC’s new status as a fully chartered
university here in Ghana they would be able devote their full energies to their
own programmes—including the ACMC/TICCS MA in Cross-Cultural Ministry—
and not have to spend so much of their time and energy on programmes abroad,
just to fulfil accreditation demands. Meetings were also held with the ACMC
Registrar, Mr. Joseph Budu, who is currently serving as a TICCS Board Member,
as to how best to promote the new joint programme in preparation for the
projected October opening.
TICCS as a Member of TEP
We are still awaiting the official corroboration of our new status as an institution
under the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province (all the combined dioceses of Northern
Ghana). At the last TICCS Board Meeting the members changed the
Constitutions and Statutes to adjust for the new ‘Foundation Member’. We look
forward to some of the benefits of this new status including fewer restrictions on
the amounts and types of grant applications and the possibility of some funding
Scholarships for MA in C-C Ministry
We are still receiving some of the ‘pledges’ made during the launching of the new
MA programmes which was in December 2004. Some of this money is slated for
For more information about the scholarships or for application forms please
contact the TICCS Registry.
Re-printing TICCS Seminars
We are now in the process of re-issuing the TICCS Seminars in a new format
bound in book form, with an attractive glossy cover, rather than the spiral
notebook style. The 2nd edition of African Traditional Religion: Applications to
Christian Ministry and Development is now available from our bookstore.
TICCS Seminars for 2005
Even though the response to our TICCS Seminars over the years has been very
encouraging they were temporarily discontinued from 2001 to 2003 because of
the lack of staff and in 2004 because of lack of funding. But we intend to continue
the Seminars in 2005.
Cross-Cultural Spirituality Workshops
The theme of cross-cultural spirituality is one that is gaining critical importance in
our time. seminars seem to be quite appropriate and will be continued.
Grants and Subsidies in 2004
DKA: Capacity Building Grant
DKA: Study Tour
SVD Generalate: Budget subsidy
MISSIO: Seminarians’ Introduction to Pastoral Year
Besides these sponsorships TICCS has received various amounts as informal
support from numerous well-wishers and benefactors. We wish to take this
opportunity to offer our sincere thanks to our benefactors and granting agencies
for their kind assistance.
Special thanks to:
Mr and Mrs Kirby
Dr. Erle Kirby (Canada)
Mark & Rosemary Keatley (UK)
Dr Fordwor (Kumasi)
DKA-Study Tour 2004
From the 4th of July to the 3rd August 2004, some 14 persons (13 women and 1
man) participated in the annual Dreikonigsaktion (DKA) Study Tour. As usual the
programme was divided into four parts of one week each, namely: a week of
touring historical and ethnological sites of interest including Accra Market, Aburi
Gardens, visiting several of Ghana’s immaculate palm-fringed beaches, Elmina
Castle and finally Kumasi where they were hosted by Archbishop Sarpong and
his renouned traditional dance troup. Next was a week’s orientation at TICCS in
Tamale which was followed by another week of language and culture learning as
a preparation for village immersion. Then the high point of the programme, a four
night stay in a traditional village where they were able to join with the people in
the daily rhythm of their life. Finally a week of debriefing, traveling back to Accra
and some time for last minute purchases and some leisurely R&R at the beach
before the return flight.
The year 2004 will go down as an excellent year for us. Even though good
organization is necessary, it is no guarantee of success so we are thankful that
everything went as planned. The group was in high spirits throughout, showing
great enthusiasm for every aspect of the programme. They worked well together
demonstrating a good balance between youth and experience and the informed
and decisive leadership made a big difference. There were no major travel
setbacks or breakdowns on the tour part, no difficulties in logistics at TICCS or
the village immersion and everyone had a great time. Best of all there was no
illness which sometimes mars the event and dampens spirits. The success of
the tour also owes much to the excellent preparation participants receive in
Austria. This year’s group jumped in and committed themselves entirely to
village life. By the time they were ready to come back to TICCS most found it
difficult to leave the village. Some even shed tears.
All around it seemed to be the perfect course. Just the right amount of time and
intensity for each of the segments. We look forward to many more such courses.
Dagbani Proverbs Project
The relatively small but committed members of the Dagbani Proverbs Project
continue to meet regularly at TICCS on one Saturday each month. The present
task involves going through the Sunday lectionary readings and searching for
Dagbani proverbs that help exemplify and support the Bible teachings in these
three readings. It is indeed a challenging task and something that involves
reflection on the key meanings and teachings found in each of the scripture
readings. After finding and agreeing on these key meanings and teachings we
then proceed to search together for Dagbani proverbs that can be used with
these readings. Various proverbs are brought forth by one or the other of the
members and then they are evaluated. Sometimes it is found that they are not
the appropriate proverb. Then the search goes on until the group is satisfied that
the particular proverb being presented is appropriate to the scripture text. Of
course, when this happens it brings forth a sense of accomplishment and
encouragement to the whole group.
Over the years that we have been meeting the group members have grown in
their understanding of the scriptures, their own proverbs and how together they
can be useful guides for living out our Christian faith.
New members have also joined our group. James Suran-Era, our new full time
teaching assistant at TICCS, sends out the reminders and the meeting date each
month to the members. Stephen Issifu, a teacher in one of the Tamale
secondary schools, has also joined the group and is making a good contribution.
The most recent member is a Muslim. This rekindles our vision early on in the
programme of having a joint group of Christians and Muslims who would work
together with Dagbani proverbs linking them to our sacred books, the Bible and
the Koran. What both groups have in common are the proverbs that have been
passed down from one generation to another by the elders of our communities.
The first seed is being planted and we pray that God will send the rain to let it
germinate and produce an abundant harvest.
From the original collection of 1,400 proverbs we now have a collection of almost
3,000 proverbs. A recent visit to the Mionlana and his elders in Sambu gave us
some important new additions to our collection. He and his elders are avidly
gathering still more for our book. We intend to publish a book of 3,000 Dagbani
proverbs early in 2005, which will list the proverb entries in Dagbani with a literal
translation, followed by one or more meanings of the proverbs, with examples as
to how they can be used.
Introduction Course at a Standstill
It has been four years since TICCS has been able to run a regular 4-week
Introduction Course. In the past this course was one of our ‘bread and butter’
programmes but now the demand has fallen off sharply. We have reduced the
offerings to twice a year (February & September) but even so we usually get only
about three or four participants for each—and then we end up dropping the
course because we need ten to run it cost effectively.
This is very troubling for us—and not just because of the financial implications.
At first glance it seems to suggest that missionaries (and perhaps even their
sponsoring organizations and institutions) are no longer interested in crossing
over cultures. It could also suggest that they may feel that such crossings and
the preparation of the missioners for such crossings are not as necessary as they
were early on. This expectation that cultural barriers no longer really exist seems
to be one of the less rational results of the new trends toward ‘globalization’. We
have experienced it quite frequently in the attitudes of volunteers, and sometimes
even in younger missionaries.
The numbers of some missionary groups are declining while those of others,
such as the SVD and SSpS, are only maintaining equilibrium as the areas of their
missionary involvement are expanding. But on the other hand, some of the more
fundamentalist groups are actually increasing their numbers. All in all, this in
itself should not be the main cause of the drop in attendance.
Incoming personnel now tend to be from Third World countries known for their
more conservative theology of mission. This may also be true, to some extent,
but some of the organizations that were formerly among the most conservative
(e.g., SIM and WEC) are now, more than ever before, emphasizing the
importance of language and culture—and they are actually doing something
about it. They insist that their members learn the local language to a level of FSI-
3 within a year or leave the mission field.
Another factor might be that missionaries tend to stay for shorter periods and
some of them may feel (or even be told) that their time is too ‘precious’ to be
wasted learning a language—especially when everyone speaks English! They
may feel that if they only have two years to ‘work’ then using one year ‘just’ for
language and culture leaning would cut too much into their time and would leave
hardly any time left to do the ‘real work’. Unfortunately, this is probably a very
big factor in the decline. I use the word ‘unfortunately’ because even the English
that is spoken here in Ghana (i.e., Ghanaian English) must be learned—and
TICCS has even produced a book to help learners in this task.
Still another possible factor might be the fact that many of the new personnel are
‘mission volunteers’ who are invited directly by the local churches. This, for
sure, is an increasing trend, and unfortunately, most of the local churches and
authorities are not sufficiently aware of the need for such cross-cultural training.
Bishops and heads of local churches need to know that it really does affect their
understanding and their performance levels, not to mention their mental and
spiritual health. A looming additional factor here is that, in most cases, the local
churches would not be able to cover the expenses of such training. Could there
be funding made available for such trainees who are at the moment simply ‘out of
Whatever the reasons and, as can easily be seen from the foregoing discussion,
the reasons are many and complex, the hard fact of the matter is that our
numbers are down. The complexity makes it hard for us to respond effectively to
this problem. But we would like to invite you, our readers and ‘friends of TICCS’
to join the discussion, to talk to us and to help us out. Perhaps from a wider
discussion we might be able to generate some new perspectives which might
lead to some new solutions. In the meantime we will continue to announce our
two courses each year, as usual, and we hope that these trends will turn around.
In any case those who are interested will at least know where they can get the
training they need.
SVS Pastoral Year 2004
This year the Introduction to Pastoral Year took place from mid-August to mid-
September in order to wait for the return of Fr. Kofi from homeleave. The
participants included both second year and third year students of St. Victors
Seminary in order to make up our quota of ten. As was decided earlier, the
course stuck to the cross-cultural communication material and left out the
material on culture-learning and cultural analysis. We hope to present the
cultural analysis material next year and then alternate between the programme
for language-learning and that for culture-learning. It was a great pleasure
working with these enthusiastic and committed young men, and we wish them
great success in their cross-cultural adventure.
Mono-cultural gobblization … er globalization
Jon P. Kirby
When the term ‘globalization’ first appeared on the horizon more than a decade
ago I must admit that in my own naivete I thought that it might mean a change in
the Western, European and North American outlook, a broadening out, a
willingness to anticipate the different perspectives of the different peoples
rubbing shoulders all over the globe, and a new thrust to set up opportunities for
dialogue between these different cultural perspectives and viewpoints,
institutions and processes, religions and philosophies. This sort of change is
long overdue and I thought at long last it might be here.
Unfortunately, what is actually occuring is just the opposite. Far from a
broadening there is a clever narrowing. When understood as a narrowing of
cultural awareness rather than a widening, the new global economy is not about
fostering relationships of exchange with the rest of the world but rather forcing all
notions and processes of exchange into the narrow (oftentimes dehumanising)
cultural patterns of the West.
What is being called for is no less than the mono-cultural conversion of the whole
world. The effects are felt differently in different areas of life but everything is
moving in one direction: from the rural to urban, the periphery to the centre, and
from the world’s 7,000 cultures to one in particular, namely the Euro-North
The effect this has had on the official political economy of globalisation in Africa
is now termed ‘NEPAD’, but it might as well be called ‘gobbleization’ for, even
more efficiently than the various ‘structural adjustment’ efforts of the 90s, it seeks
to repackage African life, organization and production into byte-sized units for
Regions of Africa that were not so long ago criticized as uncivilized because of
their ‘primitive technology’ are now at long last given the respect due them within
our new politically ‘corrected’ era. But at what a cost! They are now counted to
be ‘as civilized as Westerners’ (on the basis of their imported Western
technologies) provided they perform according to the models of ‘civil society’ and
in exact (not to say ‘slavish’) imitation of the West. But this is truly demonic, not
only because it ignores the value of African life and culture, not only because it
nullifies and trivializes it in the eyes of the West, but also (and most especially)
because it demonises it in the eyes of Africans.
Democratization is upheld as the new base and framework for prosperity,
harmony, and for a new just society in Africa. Yet it harbours within its
ethnocentric bifocals many dangerous cultural presuppositions, for example
about happiness being in material goods rather than in right relationships, honour
and peace of mind, or that justice is done by preserving an individual’s (provided
he or she is already rich and elite) rights while those of the community (indeed
the majority who subsist in poverty) can be neglected with impunity. It presumes
that the Western styled systems of governance are good and all others are not.
That they are the best systems for everyone and that systems that do not
resemble this are not worthy of acknowledgement, much less support or
assistance—and, even more frightening, must be guarded against for the sake of
the security of the homeland (which has, of course, now become global).
Translated into local politics, once again it means that only the powerful elite
qualify to be helped.
By far the most fearful effect, though, is in the area of religion—because it is from
here that all other aspects are legitimised. While our attention has been turned
to the vilification of Islam, the unofficial religion of the West has slowly but
resolutely become money. This is also the new model upheld by the African
Charismatics, who are the ever-rising majority within the Christian denominations
which together claim 50% of Africa. Everything is subsumed under this new
dispensation governing all things in heaven and the earth and under the earth.
The faith is simple and dogmatic. God blesses the rich. God has meant us all to
be rich—just like the Americans. God has sent his only Son that all might be
rich. The devil is whatever that prevents this from happening—especially the old
African cultural worldview and beliefs. But God has taken away Satan’s power.
By God’s redeeming power we are no longer under the power of the devil’s
curse. The curse of Ham is the curse of poverty. This is obvious—more obvious
than witchcraft. And like witchcraft, the curse is equally pervasive. It is all around
us. It is to be rejected by turning away from everything that is traditionally
African—which is to say everything holding us back. We are now returning to our
true inheritance—the material riches saved up for us from the beginning of time.
The gospel of the new religion is wealth and we are all its co-religionists by the
baptism of desire—just by being part of a new globalized era. The curse of
poverty and powerlessness can only affect us where there is unbelief. God (and
the American government) therefore want us to become true believers, born-
again believers who actively participant in the expansion, the ‘nurturing’ of
wealth, who invest, who send money, resources and personnel from the
periphery to the core. He wants us to join the chosen family of believers at the
core who, clearly from the looks of their blessed finery and Benz cars, partake of
the blessings of the money gospel. The rich are both the proof of God’s blessing
and have become our new models and guides. How fitting that Ghana’s wealthy
elites are not only weild political and economic power, they are also the
exemplars of the new gospel. They have become the defacto preachers of the
new kingdom and witnesses of God’s abundance in their own stories of success.
How fitting a theological foundation for Africa’s oppression in this new era of
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name
and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them’ (Luke
Dagbani Proverbs and Scripture Project
Kofi reports great progress in the Dagbani Proverbs Project. Very soon we hope
to publish a book of 3,000 proverbs with a commentary about their application.
Fr. Kirby teaches at UDS
During the months of September, October and November 2004 Fr. Kirby co-
taught a course in Rural Sociology in the new postgraduate programme of UDS
at Navrongo. The nine students all had time off from their employment in local
government or rural based NGOs to attend the sessions. The course was one of
a number offered over these three months as part of a new four year MA
‘sandwich’ programme at UDS. Students are given three months off each year
(for a period of 4 years) for their lectures at UDS and they continue their
practicals on the job. Their research and supervisions will take place during their
normal activities at the workplace. We at TICCS look forward to the results of the
programme because it is foreseen that this will be the UDS coursework
component for the TICCS MA in Cross-Cultural Development.
Research and Articles Published
Kirby, J.P. (2004) ‘Using Culture Drama for Community Diagnosis and Action
Planning,’ Compas, No. 8.
Kirby, J.P. (2003) ‘Peacebuilding in Northern Ghana: Cultural Themes and Ethnic
Conflict’ in Franz Kroger and Barbara Meier (eds.) Ghana’s North: Research on
Culture, Religion, and Politics of Societies in Transition. Frankfurt am Main: Peter
Lang, 342 pp. ISBN 3-631-51801-3, pb US- $52.95.
Kirby, J.P. (with Gong, Shu) (2004) ‘Culture Drama: a New Enactment Genre for
Kirby, J.P. (2004) The Power and the Glory: Popular Religion in Northern Ghana,
Oxford: Regnum Books International in conjunction with Orbis Books (in press).
Kirby, J.P. (2004) ‘Chieftaincy and Good Governance in N. Ghana,’ In Irene
Odotey (ed.) Chieftaincy and Democratization in Ghana. Univ. of Finland (in
Our main period for research and publications is from November 2004 until June
2005. During this time the TICCS staff will be earnestly working on the following
Twi for Beginners (2nd edition)
Our recently published first edition (500 copies) of Twi for Beginners is already
sold out and we will have to go into a second edition soon.
Cultural Analysis Workbook
Fr. Kirby is working on a ‘Cultural Analysis Workbook’ which will be used as a
textbook for the upcoming course in Cultural Analysis and which could also be
used by missionaries and field workers as a guide in their work.
Gonja for Beginners
The TICCS team started working on it in 2003 and will continue working on the
Konkomba for Beginners
The TICCS team started working on it in 2003 and will continue working on the
African Traditional Religion: Applications to Christian Ministry and Development
The original spiral bound version is now out of print and we shall reprint in the
new standardized format used in Witchcraft Mentality.
3000 Dagomba Proverbs
Fr. Kofi and the Dagbani Proverbs and the Gospel team have been putting
together the material for this book over the last three years. It will soon be ready
The material that is the basis for the Cross-Cultural Spirituality Workshop will
soon be published as 14 essays which Frs. Kirby and Kofi have been putting
over the past three years.
TICCS THOUGHTS ABOUT CULTURE
On my way to the Upper West Region where I plan to continue the
anthropological research, which I started twenty-five years ago among the
Chakalle and Vagla people, I dropped in for what I had hoped would be a short
visit at TICCS, Tamale.
It has been nearly ten years since my last visit and in this time Tamale—indeed
the whole of Ghana—has changed tremendously. Kotoko International Airport is
now a glittering, sparkling facility. It is almost intimidating with its polished floors
and neatly organized procedures. Coming out in the open to the phalanx of
awaiting porters, taxi drivers, relatives and pickpockets is no longer the traumatic
‘sink or swim’ (or, rather, ‘swim and get sunk’) experience that it used to be, but a
rather gentle glide into a new world where the solicited dash is barely a whisper
and taxi drivers offer their services almost shyly. It must go to the credit of
Ghanaians that they have been able—all in all—to get their country on its feet
again, and walking fast. Sure, this is not the entire picture, and no doubt one has
got to be aware of the hardships faced by the poor. But, as the recently minted
proverb has it ‘when it rains, it is the tallest people who get wet first’. Actually, I
made the proverb up myself while talking to a taxi driver on my way to the Italian
Embassy. He was complaining about the ‘problems’ that the present government
had brought onto the people. As he paused over the meaning of my makeshift
piece of wisdom his eyes lit up with the unspoken hope that maybe one day I will
get wet too. May your dream become a deluge, Mr. Driver.
As for myself, my hosts, the Gyader family, who live in the splendid area of
Roman Ridge by the airport, rained down on me their bounteous hospitality. It
was a far cry from my experience of East Cantonments where I had quartered in
1982. Water was so scarce then that the house cat had taken to sleeping in the
shower. The place was so dry that the cook kept bags of rice and maize in the
water tank. It was the only place that could be made mice-proof, as I recollect.
Anyhow I’m amazed. The splendid houses, the copiously flowing water, and
wow! How about those roads! Or as they say over here, ‘come and see’ the
roads. The gigantic Tetteh Quarshie roundabout—‘the largest roundabout in
West Africa’ as my friend proudly pointed out—takes a long time, or as they say
in the North, ‘two days’, to go round. One day, no doubt, is because of the
chronic traffic jams, and one is actually to negotiate its breadth. So
incongruously wide is the swing round to the Tema ‘motorway’ that it feels like
you’re passing by Cape Coast before you start to turn back. The moons of
Neptune have wasted less time in their orbits than I at Tetteh-Quarshie.
As an academic, other improvements make much more sense to me. The halls at
Legon University have been freshly painted and the campus is bristling with life.
The bookshop is well stocked, although the books are, like everywhere, grossly
overpriced. And—lo and behold!—there is even a ‘cash point’ capable of
dispensing the plank-thick bundles of banknotes you need to carry around as you
spend, spend, spend your way through the day. As an Italian, producing 6,500
cedis for a Star, was an exercise in nostalgia bringing me back to the good old
days of the lira, when you needed 5,000 lira to buy a beer. But for the Brit, whom
I saw struggling to count out the fifty-three 1,000 cedi notes for his meal, it was a
nightmare. Having fumbled in his bag for a few frustrating minutes, obviously
scared, confused, and embarrassed to air the whole bundle before the gaping
crowd, he turned to me half in irritation at my intrusive curiosity, and half in a
desperate plea for sympathy, saying: ‘It’s a b….y lot o’ money…for a meal, mate’.
‘It is about a fiver, mate’, I said. ‘The problem is that we oburonis do not know
any longer how to count up to 53—let alone the thousand bit’. By the look he
gave me, I suppose that I now have a sworn enemy somewhere.
The dexterity that Ghanaian market women show in their accountancy is
something I’ve always admired. They can count great swabs of banknotes faster,
and more accurately, than those electric counting machines that are sitting on the
desks of every office in the country. When I asked the clerk who took my
payment for the flight from Accra to Tamale why she always counted the
banknotes that had already gone through the machine she said: ‘Because at
times the machine tells lies’. Mind boggling indeed! I am still pondering whether
this implies the anthropomorphization of machines, calling for an elaborate piece
a la Taussig on ‘Cognition and the fetishism of machines in Africa’ or an example
of die-hard faith in the superiority of Man – something like ‘Enduring humanism
and the phenomenology of the African experience’. Hmmm … When I asked the
chap in line behind me what he thought, I got back, ‘Yesa, masah.’ Perhaps he
is right, too much burofo, burofo-ism only leaves one confused.
The flight to Tamale was efficient and fast. It was spent in the company of a
number of NPP (the ruling party) campaigners in their red, white and blue
bunting (a bit too close to the Union Jack, for my taste) who were coming up
North to rally for the incumbent President. When I asked the woman next to me
why there where no NDC (the opposition party) campaigners on the plane she
obviously spotted the sting and snortingly snapped back, ‘As for the NDC, they
travel by lorry because they want to be close to the people’. I suppose some
descend from the sky like Spider, while others stay close to the ground, like
Tamale now has better and cleaner roads than Calabria, the region in Southern
Italy where I live. I wish our Prime Minister Berlusconi would come to visit and
see how it is done: wide, clean, well laid out roads and even traffic lights. A
certain aspect of it would certainly appeal to him: that one can actually reach
quite a high level of efficiency while also chopping people’s money, small. Only
over here politicians speak about it openly and they actually try to do something
But Internet Cafes—how possible! Those you would not expect. Yet they are
thicker on the ground than chop bars and jam-packed with people of all ages.
Children are there in their numbers, leaving the ice cream vendors in the lurch
and sadly alone. It is so cheap—about thirty Euro cents per hour—that,
obviously, many middle-class consumers can afford it. What the kids do with the
Internet is another question. It would be fascinating to know but my British-honed
etiquette kept me from peeking. Unfortunately, not the other way around. I wrote
something to my wife Elena, but not what I would have liked because the stations
are so close to one another that there is no privacy. I thought of those oburonis
in the villages who always complain that no one will allow them to ‘go to toilet’
alone. Well now we can add another cymbal to the clash of cultures—‘you
cannot even have your twa-me-dot-com station to yourself’.
It was on topics such as these that Jon Kirby and I were pontificating over our
chilled—yes, I mean chilled (and plenty, a never-ending flow, a potential flood, a
deluge if you so wished, the veritable fountains of Babylon, and how different
from what I recall from times past)—beers at one of the several hot spots in town.
‘Chez, are we becoming old timers?’ he asked. It took me back immediately to
the old, worn out, and slightly—oh, ever so slightly—forlorn Brit whom we met
ages ago, at the old Kumasi Club bar by the Fort in Kumasi. There he was, a
relic of times past, drinking his way through the afternoon in the company of
other colonial remnants. The hauntingly surreal image is with me still of them
throwing the dice and pushing dummies of horses with jockeys the size of a man
round the bar floor on a painted track. They were betting tots and beers—tots for
long distance races and beers for steeples.
A glance at the clock brings me abruptly back to the present. It is almost midday
and I am sorely agitated. My ‘short visit’ is turning out to be longer than planned.
My new plan is to set off for the Upper West as soon as my motorbike is fixed.
I’m suddenly aware again that here in Ghana plans are for breaking and ‘[kyena’
makes ‘ma?ana’ look positively predictable. ‘As soon as my motorbike is fixed’, is
a sure plan-breaker. I love it! The deal was (in my vaulting imagination) that I
would find the motorbike ready to go, speckles and spot on, upon my arrival in
Tamale. Well the moto looks great, and everyone around including the TICCS
manager and gardenboy have no trouble ‘sparking’ it, but I can not. It doesn’t
like me I guess. Jon has explained that ‘the motorbike is a bit fickle’ and I have to
give myself some time to get to know it. Having kick-started it for the
sixhundredandseventyfifth time I growled back at him that this is not what I like to
hear. I suppose that this is just an over-reaction due to an inordinate fear I have
of moto fitters in general. I still have nightmares of the last time this sort of thing
happened when, in 1994, I brought my moto to the fitter under the old neem tree.
As I recall, he took the engine apart five times—each time with a screw, nut, bolt
or some such thing left over. ‘There are too plenty of those little iron pieces
anyway,’ he explained.
Well, it is now midday and the fitter is not yet back with the moto. My burofo-ism
kicks in again. He had promised to be back in the morning, ‘at dawn and without
further delay’, he specified in the presence of witnesses. And as he was wearing
immaculate, bright red Ferrari overalls which reminded me of home, I bestowed
my faith on him. Sic transit gloria mundi.
It is now two minutes past midday and he is still not here. My burofo-ism peaks. I
do not know whether to be angry at him because ‘he failed me’, to be angry at
myself because, once again, I have obviously misunderstood the situation and
duped myself, or to be deliriously happy because after all Ghana has not
changed that much and its genius loci—‘Onyame wo ho‘—is still what it used to
My thoughts suddenly return to the old-timer at the Kumasi Club. I can see him
still, dressed in stripes of the dusty afternoon light as it sliced through the
Venetian blinds in that darkened odum-panelled lounge. Between moves and tots
he told his ironic tale, that, on the eve of Independence, his Ghanaian wife
packed up and left for Britain with the children and he never saw them again.
‘She thought that with Nkrumah coming, this country would be spoiled. I stayed
because I can’t help it—I love this country’.
Now this reverie seems much less alien and strange than it did then. Maybe I too
am becoming an old-timer. Perhaps we have more in common than before. Or
perhaps it is only now becoming clear why I keep coming back—that I too love
this country dearly and I can’t stay away.
Yes, let me get back into the Ghana groove. Let me ‘take time’. Let me pray that
my moto is being taken apart for the nth time, and let me hope that a bit of it, if
only a little tiny bit, will be left out again as an offering to this good Earth. Let me
see these old bones adjust back to life here in my old home in the village and
that at the very least I will not be an inflexible old-timer, emitting burofo-isms.
Kanitty Walembelewura, a.k.a. Chez
TICCS, Tamale, 23 November 2004
Food from Home
A Ghanaian proverb goes, ‘It is the food from home which satisfies best’—and it
is so true. Home is where we were nurtured and that which is closest to us is the
most real, the most true. In a sense this is also true of our first culture. It is our
‘home’, and it is where we feel at home. It speaks to us with meaning. It is the
original springboard for growth, for launching into new areas—even new cultures.
The eucharist too is our like our home and our true culture. Only its reference
point is our final ‘true’ home, our becoming a part of ‘God’s culture’, that which is
drawing us to our destiny. It is the bridge between our present home and
culture(s) and our new home to come. But that final destination is made from the
stuff of our present cultural home. In fact none other will do. So our viaticum for
the journey—that which carries us across the gap of destiny—also needs to be
from home, it needs to be a part of our culture.
One of the problems of our contemporary Christian rituals, and therefore with our
crossing the gap as it were, is that they are out of sync with the changes in
cultures around the world. If the Eucharist is to be rooted in and to grow out of
our home cultures as it were, it must be ‘translated’ from times and places where
it has been culturally ‘at home’ to our new situations. This is a difficult challenge
to our ingenuity, attention and our commitment to faith. It requires that we know
both cultural systems and their codes and how the Eucharist has been
contextualized. What can we do?
First of all, we can assert that translation is actually possible. It has been done
before and must be done again. Secondly, we can assert that the Eucharist is
not sacrament unless it has been translated. This makes the work of translation
a high priority so that the people of God may have their ‘food from home’.
Thirdly, it requires a certain perspective toward our final destination that involves
other cultures—both their deep culture and surface structures. In fact, no one
culture has the definitive picture or vision of God’s home. So the more cultures
that have got their food from home fully inculturated, the better outlook we will
have of our final destination, and the better the means to get there.
Translation demands relationship—moving with—and it also requires a continual
and reciprocal modification. Translation theory requires an understanding of
deep structure and contexted surface structure. In order to carry meaning, the
surface structures can vary from emphasis on performance to how they structure
In applying the ideas of deep and surface structure to the translation of
‘sacrament’, especially the Eucharist, across cultures, it is necessary first to
distinguish between faith and culture. Missionaries, or those undertaking this
task, would need to discover which aspects of Jesus’ Eucharistic behaviour were
culture-bound and which were culture-free, or that which has meaning narrowly
and what is of more general significance.
If we distinguish these two aspects of meaning within the notion of food, we have
(1) the functional aspect (nutritional meaning), and (2) the social aspect
(ceremonial meaning). In 19th C Europe the ritual-ceremonial meaning of food
was emphasized leading to reserving it for special occasions. Late 20th C
America has been influenced by ‘fast life’ and ‘fast foods’, and middle class
wealth means eating out more often. As a result, ceremonial behaviour is being
de-emphasized in favour of commonplace activities—eating. In terms of the
Eucharist this means ‘fast food’ Masses. What about Africa where ‘fast food’ is
neither fast nor commonplace? Here we can surely expect there to be more
emphasis on the ceremonial.
Finding the true (to cultural foundations) Eucharist for each time and place—for
home—is not easy. For one thing, the meaning of food in society must be
examined, and of particular foods, and at particular times. The Tikopia stop
having funerals during famine because there is no food. The same is true in N.
Ghana. We must look at the meaning of real meals (as opposed to snacks,
‘bush lunches’, fruit, or ‘fast food’). We must look at the social contexts—the
what, where, when, how, and with whom. Trobrianders, for example, eat
together but back to back, each with his/her own pot. But pre-marital couples
must not eat together (but can sleep together). Bemba give food away so the
guest can eat it alone (just as the Dagomba do). Salish Indians consider all food
‘holy things’ which cannot be sold but must be given away. Melanesian societies
value bruised fruits and foods that have been handled and passed around.
Care must be taken so that the Eucharistic meaning is translated in such as way
as to convey appropriate meaning across cultures. As cultures change and
meanings change, so must the Eucharist. This has not yet occurred at any deep
cultural level in the Christian communities of Europe and N. America, let alone
Cultures are very different and they vary widely in the meanings they attach to
food and meals. We will therefore need a variety of Eucharistic forms. There is a
certain urgency to get started, for as we are not yet culturally contextualized we
are doing the wrong thing. This means that the wrong thing is being passed on—
we are teaching others to do the wrong thing. Procrastination is thus contra-
Kingdom—not to be ‘with me’ is to be ‘against me’.
Instead of deep cultural changes what gets passed on is the importance and
unchangeableness of the text. Successive waves of missionaries take this up
implicitly because there are few examples of those who bother to penetrate to the
meaning at the level of deep structure.
Because of the urgency and the fact that cultural knowledge is implicit, there is a
certain prior burden on ‘outsiders’ to begin the process. They are freer to break
the icons of ‘Church culture’ as they are embedded in Euro-cultural history and,
with some training in linguistic and cultural analysis, they can penetrate deep
structures easier than ‘insiders’ (because it is hardest to penetrate deep
structures of our own culture).
There are many problems of course. Lassitude due to false modesty or humility,
and there is no ‘naked culture’, no ‘naked Gospel’—all are living. Dialogue and
penetration are key. Translation requires both insiders and outsiders. Outsiders
need insiders’ knowledge of local context to understand meaning. Insiders need
outsiders’ knowledge to help them to make explicit their formulations for general
principles of meaning, which are embodied in use rather than in formulas. Most
insiders have not analysed these embodiments and do not have the tools to do
Finally, there is the ‘mark’ of the Christian. Jesus belonged to a specific culture
but he always acted at the margins. His ways of expressing justice and service
were culture bound, but unique. The life of the early Christian community was
also culture bound and unique. Up until recently, the church in very culture
bound ways has focused on the sacrificial aspect of Eucharist but the sacrifice
has already been made. This is a throwback to the cultural mechanics of control
through sacrifice, and there are other dimensions that speak more to our time
and uniqueness. It now is a time for change, for life, as Mercy Oduyoye’s paen to
the Eucharist reminds us:
You may come to Baptism with your [African] name;
you may come to be married in [African] clothes,
you may drum and even dance in Church.
But in the Eucharist,
can you use wine made of anything but grapes,
and bread which is made of wheat?
These things do not grow
in most parts of Black Africa.
P.S. I am indebted to Fr. Anthony Gittins CSSp for many of the central ideas
presented in this essay.
TICCS PROGRAMMES IN 2005
Cross-Cultural Spirituality Workshop
Part I: December 2004: Sun 5, Mon 6, Tues 7
Part II: March 2005: Sun 13, Mon 14, Tues 15
Part I & II joined: 4-10 December 2005: (1-wk)
Arrival 6.00 PM Sunday evenings
Departure: 8.00 AM Wednesday mornings
1. Introduction to Cross-Cultural Spirituality
2. Spirituality of Crossings
3. Understanding Cultural Crossings
4. Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Spirituality
5. Cultural Themes and the Eucharist
6. Oral Literature in Ghana
7. Proverbs: Africa’s Sacred Texts
8. African Spirituality
9. Food From Home
10. Mission in Reverse
11. God’s Vision
12. Structure of God’s Plan
13. Incarnational Humility
14. Gift Exchange and the Eucharist
15. Afua Kuma: ‘Prayer across Cultures’
16. Creative Spirituality & Moral Imagination
17. Cross-Cultural Discipleship
18. Spirituality of the Stranger
‘DKA-Study Tour’ in 2005
From around the 1st of July to the 3rd of August, 2005, TICCS will offer the tenth
DKA-Study Tour. The tour has been going well for a decade and we wish to
take this opportunity to thank and congratulate DKA for their continued and
enlightened support of this important project for ‘mission animation’ and Catholic
lay leadership training. It is something that other organizations could well
TICCS Seminars Back on Track
We hope to put our seminars back on track this year with the theme: ‘Disabilities
and Culture’. As usual the theme will be taken up in two separate seminars, one
focusing on ministerial issues and the other focusing on the issues for
development. The former is scheduled for 17-20 April and the latter for 6-9
November. Please mark these down on your calendars.
for SVS Pastoral Year
From the 7th of August to the 3rd September 2005, TICCS will conduct the tenth
Introduction course for Pastoral Year seminarians of St. Victors Seminary. It has
been proposed that the course now be given to two of the classes at once (years
2 and 3) and that the course content alternates between ‘language-learning’ one
year and ‘culture-learning’ the alternate year. This is to fill up the vacancies in
the attendance thus keeping our numbers up to ten and above and to insure that
the seminarians receive training in both language-learning and culture-learning.
There is simply too much material in both to be compressed into one month.
Dr. Cesare Poppi (Univ. of Bologna)
Mr. Lindhout, researcher (Univ. of Amsterdam)
Dr. Esther Goody (Cambridge Univ.)
Dr. Carola Lentz (Univ. of Berlin)
Mr. Kees van der Geest (Univ. of Amsterdam)
Mr. Bram Buscher (Univ. of Amsterdam)
Mr. John Mason, Accra
Mr. Joseph Budu, Registrar ACMC
Hon. British High Commissioner, Accra
Hon. Japanese Ambassador, Accra
Mr. Scott B. Ticknor, American Embassy, Accra
Dr. Stephen D. Turner, CIS, Amsterdam
Dr. Kojo Koranteng, Switzerland
Prof. Saa-Dittoh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, UDS
Prof. David Millar, Dean of Postgraduate Studies, UDS
Fr. Diarmuid Sheehan MAfr, Dublin
V. Rev. Vincent Owusu SVD, Accra
The DKA Study Tour Group (2004), Austria
2nd & 3rd year Seminarians, St. Victors Seminary
Myron & Tracy Makepeace, Nonaimo BC Canada
Hazel & Julia, Isle of Wight
Sr. Maria Carmen, SSpS, Private Course
Claudia Pein, DKA Austria
Karin Mayer, DKA Austria
Eva Gotz, DKA Austria
Carol Hoffer, Detroit MI, USA
30 Jan-26 Feb Dry Season Introduction Course
30 Jan-5 Feb Dry Season Orientation Course
4 Feb 1st Board Meeting
Mar Mainstreaming Gender Part I
13-15 Mar C-C Spirituality Workshop Part II
Apr-Jul Director on leave
Apr-Jul Research & Publications
17-20 Apr Culture & Ministry Seminar
1-7 May Easter Orientation Course
3 Jun 2nd Board Meeting
Jun Mainstreaming Gender Part II
1 Jul-3 Aug DKA-Study Tour (4-wk)
10-16 Jul July Orientation Course
7 Aug-3 Sep SVS Pastoral Year Intro (4-wk)
4-10 Sep Rainy Season Orientation
4-30 Sep Rainy Season Introduction
Sep Mainstreaming Gender Part III
26 Sep-1 Oct MA Orientation
2-29 Oct MA Part I: Introduction
7 Oct 3rd Board Meeting
30 Oct-18 Dec MA Part II: Cultural Analysis
6-9 Nov Culture & Development Seminar
4-10 Dec Cross-Cult Spirituality Workshop
11-17 Dec Mainstreaming Gender Part IV
Dec 16 Christmas Break
3 Jan–30 Jun ‘06 MA Part III: Field Training
STAFF OF THE INSTITUTE
Director/Editor: Rev. Dr. Jon P. Kirby SVD, BA (Epworth, soc & phil), MA (De
Paul, soc of relig), MDiv. (CTU, theol), Ph.D. (Cantab, soc anth)
Assistant Director: Rev. Kofi Ron Lange SVD, M.A. (Univ of Texas, linguistics)
Field Education Supervisor: vacant
Research Fellow: Edward Salifu Mahama, BA (Legon, ed.), M.A. (Reading, ling),
PhD cand. (Reading, ling)
Teaching Assistant: James Kaa-ire G. Suran-era, BA (Legon, ling)
General Administrator: vacant
Assistant Librarian: Ms. Eunice Zuuk Jawam
Typist: Ms Patience Laoni
Part-time Language Helpers: Ms Stephanie
Hostel Manager: Mr. Adam Abdul-Karim
Cooks, Stewards, Domestics: Ms. Victoria Baari, Ms. Maggie Asunumbuk, Ms.
Rebecca Amonzen, Ms.Amma, Ms. Kande Ibrahim, Ms. Janet
Part-time Driver: Mr. George Tana
Grounds: Mr. Fusheni Ziblim
Security: Mr. Salifu Baba & Mr. Adam Musah
At present TICCS distributes about 800 Newsletters twice a year at a total cost of
around 2,000 USD. Your donations however small will be a big help. A hearty
thanks to all for your generous donations and encouraging letters of support.
The Cedi rates for TICCS' courses are figured on the current exchange rate as
One-Week Cross-Cultural Orientation
(225 USD for Ghanaian Religious, Priests and Missionaries)
One-Month Cross-Cultural Communication Course
(750 USD for Ghanaian Priests, Religious, and Missionaries)
Summer in Africa (9 weeks)
It is our policy at TICCS not to turn away anyone from attending our courses
because of the cost. Needy participants including volunteers, Ghanaians,
especially Sisters of native Ghanaian congregations, are encouraged to see the
director about the possibility of receiving sponsorships or simply to waive the
Tamale Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies
P.O. Box 1012 Tamale, N.R. Ghana
TICCS Newsletter No. 30 January 2005