Proud Dagara biir, I bring you all warm New Year greetings. I also want to use this opportunity to wish my colleague media professionals in Northern Ghana a happy new year and to congratulate each and every one of you for an excellent coverage of election 2020.

The year gone by undoubtedly has been very unkind to the entire human race. It has been a year almost every single nation across the globe recorded the deadly pandemic known as the novel coronavirus (covid-19). Millions of cases were recorded and there are currently fears of an imminent second wave in parts of Europe and South Africa. While we still grieve the painful loss of close relatives and friends to the disease, we pray for the peaceful repose of their souls.

Also, by our collective efforts and the mercies of God, we have been able to surmount the challenges that came with covid-19 through the discovery of vaccines and other effective medications. While we wait for the vaccines to arrive in our dear country Ghana for everyone to get a jab, let’s continue to remain obedient to all safety protocols so as to fight off the virus completely. The following amendment to our way of life as a people should be maintained.

We should endeavor to maintain the current directive by our traditional leaders to perform the funerals of our deceased relatives within a maximum of two days with fewer numbers of people in attendance. We should never see such a directive as an abnormal thing that is intended to destroy our culture and traditions but rather some form of innovation to bring an improvement in our social lives. It is an undeniable fact that, funerals have contributed negatively in a way to impoverishing many Dagara families because of the lengthy days it previously took to perform them and also having to cater for dozens of sympathizers. Now with only two days to perform our funerals, it certainly goes a long way to relief many families of heavy financial burdens.

Let us continue to adhere to the practice of handwashing with soap, covering of nose and the use of hand sanitizers in any gathering we find ourselves including funerals, weddings, festivals, and in the market place. Poor handwashing practices especially during funerals and festivals, negatively affect the lives or health of many of our loved ones. When covid-19 is gone eventually, we should religiously continue to wash our hands with soap, cover our noses and use hand sanitizers often so as to be on the safe side of life. Remember when you are sick of coronavirus chances are that you would die and your death could also affect your family economically especially if you are the breadwinner.

As the year 2021 begins with a lot of hope in sight, let’s disentangle ourselves from dangerous habits such as drugs and alcohol abuse which are leading many to self-inflicted poverty and their untimely deaths. Let’s cease the irresponsible parenting or parental care which is giving rise to immorality, teenage pregnancy and abortion.

We may have only one rainy season in the Upper West Region and for that matter Northern Ghana, but we still have a good climate when compared to the sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger among others. Thankfully, we now have more boreholes and dugouts than ever before in our communities. We have no reason, therefore, not to venture into economic productive initiatives such as livestock rearing and vegetable farming. In 2021 and beyond, every family must have a goal towards increasing the number of their livestock including fowls, goats, sheep, pigs and cattle to enable them have enough for protein and sell some to make money to take care of other pressing issues. The men and women should plant gardens so that they and their families can eat fresh vegetables and sell the surplus for income.

Let’s deliberately grow mangoes, pawpaw, cashew and other economically beneficial trees in our backyards and farms in order to preserve our environment and also for food. We cannot continue to feed our families food that lacks protein and vitamins. We cannot continue to borrow money to pay school fees, medical bills or start a business when we have enough livestock at home which we can sell and use the money to solve any problem we are confronted with. Let us change our attitude as a people and harness our God-given potentials towards addressing our socio-economic challenges. For a long time many of us have inflicted ourselves with a poverty mindset when in actual fact we are not poor. There is the need to change that negative mindset into something positive in order to transform our lives. Nobody will lift us out of poverty until we take that initiative by ourselves individually or collectively.

Finally, let us discipline our children at home rather than offloading that responsibility on teachers in our schools. The first step of child discipline starts with parents or guardians and not the teacher. If parents fail in their responsibility to ensure discipline at home, they cannot turn round to blame teachers for the immoral behaviour and poor performance of their children in school. It is a fact that there is moral breakdown in our homes and communities and as a result, our children are no longer producing good results at the annual BECE and WASSCE. Parents must ensure their children stay indoors after school and learn. Parents must ensure no child uses a phone at home or in school. The Chiefs, Assembly members and Unit Committee Members must enact by-laws that ban children from roaming or attending discotheques at night. Thank you and may God richly bless us all.

J.P. Ziem (Kusiele Somé)
Coordinator of The Dagara Project @ Rudder Communications
[email protected]

Editor’s Note
The Dagara Culture and Heritage Preservation Project (The Dagara Project) is an initiative of Rudder Communications, a media and development communication organisation based in Tamale. The Dagara Project as the name suggest, seeks to promote the culture and heritage of the Dagara people by way of teaching and documentation of significant aspects of the culture for the unborn generation. Located in the Nandom Municipality in the Upper West Region, the project focuses on three core areas: Firstly, establishment of the Dagara Cultural Research and Documentation Centre; Secondly, establishment of The Dagara Music and Dance Academy; and Lastly, The Dagara Arts Gallery and Bookshop. The first one has been kicked into motion though steadily. The rest will be tackled when the project is duly launched.