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Hesitating between extremes. About Ghanaian farmers, markets and the right of interpretation

Joost DESSEIN researcher laureate

°1971 Belgium
Bio-engineer in land and forest management, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 1994

Aarzelen tussen uitersten. Over Ghanese landbouwers, markten en recht op zingeving

Joost Dessein has given this title to the report about the research he has carried out among the Lobi and Walabe populations of North-West Ghana, between roughly 1996 and 1998. Joost is an agricultural engineer and licentiate in social and cultural anthropology. A strange combination indeed, but thanks to both backgrounds he succeeds in explaining the agricultural practices and especially the market economy in and around Wa. In fact, Joost does not hesitate. He interprets perfectly what seems to be contradictory. For instance, he clearly explains, referring to the ancestors, this idea of absolutely sticking to the hoe as the most important agricultural tool, in spite of the efforts of agricultural counsellors who have received their training in a Western fashion. He also frankly advocates the implementation of an inter-cultural dialogue, before continuing to mould the agricultural production according to our expectations. In fact, such a dialogue is not uncommon to the Lobi farmers: in their commercial relations with the Wala merchants and the continued use of Kauri-shells as currency, they show themselves as real masters in such a dialogue, without renouncing their own identity.
This work was published as the fourth part in the series 'Monografieën over interculturaliteit"
('Monographs about the intercultural process'), edited by Cimic and EPO. Cimic is a cooperation initiative between the Katholieke Hogeschool Mechelen, the Netwerk Culturen and the AFS-Interculturele Programma's. This series finally meets the urgent need for scientifically solid work about the cultural dialogue, which has become absolutely necessary in these days of globalization.