The Earthen and Organic Materials Technologies of Banda, Ghana

By Ann Stahl, Enoch Mensah, Sampson Attah, and Zonke Guddah | 10 November 2020

Until recent decades, daily life in Banda, Ghana was configured through earthen and organic technologies ranging from woven mats on which people slept, the equipment used in procuring food, the walls and thatch of houses, and fibre shrouds in which the dead were buried. The production of useable things from local fibre, wood and clay resources drew on men’s and women’s complementary skills and knowledge and sustained family and community well-being. 

These knowledge systems and technologies are endangered by rapid change, ushered in by recent construction of a hydroelectric dam in the area and exacerbated by a perception that things and technologies from elsewhere are, by default, improvements and necessary pathways to modern life. Plastics and other industrially manufactured commodities are rapidly eroding the intertwined earthen and organic materials technologies that long sustained local life.  

Over two years, we will digitally document through video, audio and photography the complementary technologies and knowledge systems central to construction of earthen and thatch shelters, the making of fibre objects and uses of these sustainable local resources to ensure family and community well-being. The project builds on the multi-decade collaboration between the PI and Banda area communities and, since 2016, a formal partnership with the community-based Banda Heritage Initiative, a local committee dedicated to producing digital heritage resources to support educational initiatives.


PI:
Dr Ann Stahl, Professor and Distinguished Lansdowne Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria 

Collaborators:
Enoch Mensah, Chair, Banda Heritage Committee
Sampson AttahBanda Heritage Committee
Zonke GuddahPhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria 

Location of Research:
Banda area, and Bono Region, Ghana
 

Top Banner Image: Banda hills, 2000. (Photo: Ann B. Stahl)