From Nandom With Love – By Kwabena Atta Antwi

Curiosity, they say kills the cat but I guess it’s good to be curious as a human being since you can’t be killed (perhaps because you are not a cat).  Being curious, although can be precarious and very dangerous; its advantages far outweighs its disadvantages (per my experience).  Basically, every inquisitive person will support my assertion that it’s good to be curious but the conservatives will also argue otherwise. My transient Sojourn in Nandom has opened my eyes to so many things which if I had not been curious, I wouldn’t have known.

Nandom is a town under the Lawra District in the Upper West Region of the Republic of Ghana as well as the Lawra-Nandom Constituency of which Hon. Ambrose P. Dery is the Member of Parliament. Lawra, according to history means Let All Warriors Run Away. Let’s take a brief look at how and why they settled for that name which although funny was of utmost necessity.

History has it that some miscreants and mercenaries invaded the town and almost succeeded in ruining and enslaving it but a few bold youth of the community, whose patriotism perhaps supersedes that of Yaa Asantewaa and Kwame Nkrumah stood and fought assiduously and overwhelmed the intruders that the remaining mercenaries had to escape by taking to their heels thereby the declaration of Let All Warriors Run Away (LAWRA).

Now, back to Nandom which is a few minutes drive from Burkina Faso and Lawra and located in the heart of the main road that links Ghana and Burkina Faso. Their favorite food is ‘tuo zaafi’ (a maize staple food) with various soups and stews (Zesalor, Kansawolor, Jorjor, and Simbienzier with my favorite being the dawadawa, simbienzier and ayoyo).

Although, the Legislative Instrument (LI) and Executive/Presidential Assent has been given for Nandom to also become a district on its own, the undue Bureaucracy, lackadaisical and lackluster attitude associated with everything Ghanaian has prevented Nandom to be an autonomous district. There are so many villages and towns under Nandom, notably Bullegaung, Nandomle, Nandomkpee, Brutu, Ko, Pufien, Gorzier, Kuore, Bu, Naapaal just but to mention a few.

Majority of workers in Nandom are teachers and educational workers. Apart from that, there is only one bank, the Nandom Rural Bank, which is on record to be the only bank that works on Sundays owing to the fact that Sunday is the Nandom Market day and that market is one of the biggest markets in the Upper West Region.

One enviable trait of the indigenes of Nandom is how they like to greetirrespective of the number of times that person meets you in a day! Predominantly, Nandom is inhabited by the Dagaaba’s with a few Sisala’s, Mamprusi’s, Akans and the rest in the minority.

Due to the lack of economic activity which has eventually led to high unemployment rate especially among the women folks, pito brewing is a major economic activity here in Nandom.  In virtually 8 out of 10 houses, pito brewing is a hallmark there. Pito, like any other locally brewed drink is not independent of alcohol but its advantage over the others like akpeteshie and brukutu is that it is made with guinea corn, millet and yeast and therefore can be used as food supplement!

Its preparation is amazingly funny but the end product is very good. Some doctors have told me that it is good for those who have blood shortage,  for jaundice treatment and also said to be good for the eyesight but that is yet to be proven by doctors or refuted. In every house, you find the Daa Pog (pito woman) ably assisted by a few workers mostly often teenage girls.

A very interesting aspect of selling pito is that, by custom, you have to take a sip before you present the pito to whoever is buying so if twenty people buy your pito in a day, you sip twenty times! This was to prove it is not contaminated or poisoned. Although demanding for parents with children schooling, parents allow their children to go to school when its school time except that they get overworked when they return from school and as such most of them are too tired to do their home works and assignments.

Entertainment wise, virtually every house is hooked on to multi TV and as such has got access to a variety of radio and TV stations which helps them get first hand information of what is happening in the nation’s capital, Accra. With the help of radio Freed, the over 25 years radio station whose coverage refuses to extend beyond the borders of Nandom, Lawra and Lambussie, indigenes are fed with the latest happenings in the morning via Kwami Sefa Kayi’s flagship programme, Kokrokoo.

Although, they lack a sea and swimming pools, the Black Volta and the Sankana Rivers offers indigenes the opportunity to also wash down their stress and have a good swim to also feel refreshed. Majority of the people are Christians and about 89% of the Christians are Catholics.  Majority of the people here are subscribers of Vodafone since according to them it was the first network to arrive in Nandom and the Upper West Region for that matter.

Funeral rites and marriage rites are equally observed here just like any other Ghanaian community, except for the fact that the people here are not as terribly wasteful as the other tribes when it comes to marriage and funeral rites. They don’t engage in any profligate or extravagant expenditure that have the  tendency to plunge the family into unnecessary debt because they believe that the man who is about getting married should not be overly exploited so that he can take very good care of the woman; something I will gladly and wholeheartedly recommend to my people, the Akans.

They also believe once a person is dead, there is no need to waste money on the corpse whiles those alive suffers so they perform a very moderate yet graceful and respectable funeral for the departed soul.

Being a pito brewing town, pito is basically cheap with a frytol gallon going for GHC1.50($1). Bicycles and motor bikes are the main means of transportation and as such, failure to acquire this basic necessity will render ones movement incapacitated. Motor and bicycle traffic sceneries are so nice that one wouldn’t mind spending the whole day watching it in awe!

Don’t hesitate to take some hours off your busy schedule to travel and come see Nandom for yourself; perhaps, you will get a fat guinea fowl which is cholesterol free and more nutritious than the broni waawu fowls that those in the south have been feasting on. If you don’t get accommodation, don’t hesitate to join me at my pito gate apartment and you will be served with properly home brewed pito.

Perhaps, it is that same pito that has energized me to put up all this. Let me pause here and drink the pito that was presented to me this morning by my favorite Daa Pog who always endeavours to give me fresh and unfermented pito. My meat is also staring at me in the face and its aroma is enough to make a 200 year old vegetarian change his mind at once.

There is a lot to see and do as well as savor in Nandom so like they say travel and see….

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