Improving African Futures Using Lessons from the Past

Banda History and Heritage

"O lelԑԑlԑ na o tolԑԑlԑ pre naa jawala ni. Pe yiԑ na nyaa."

"Our grandmothers and grandfathers were knowledgeable people. Their eyes were open."

These words in Nafaanra--one of several languages spoken in Banda today--carry the implication that to have one's eyes open is to look to the future, while also building on the wisdom of the past.

This digital exhibit showcases the history and heritage of the Banda area. Its materials highlight the resourcefulness and ingenuity of Banda area peoples as they formed communities and confronted challenges and opportunities across time. Banda's history and heritage has been shaped by the wisdom and traditions of the Nafana, Kuulo, Ligbi, Mo and Ewe people who live in the area today, but also by the grandfathers and grandmothers of the region's ancient inhabitants who may have come from other regions and spoken other languages. Banda and its surrounds have long been a crossroads region where people from areas that today fall within the boundaries of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and beyond, have lived together and influenced one another.

As you explore this exhibit you will learn about how people in the area made things from locally available resources and how they drew on practices passed down through generations to meet their daily needs. You will learn about the livelihoods that sustained people over the centuries and how people adjusted their life ways to meet new circumstances. And you will learn about how the global connections that may seem new today have been a long-standing feature of life in the area. People in the past responded by sometimes embracing the new things and practices made available through these connections, while at other times they recognized that practices and solutions grounded in local wisdom suited better.

Through the portals below, we invite you to explore how we can learn about--and from--the past.

  • Learning about--and from--the Past explores the sources that can be used to learn about the past and provides a Timeline which highlights historical events and developments in Banda area history.
  • Making Things highlights the skills and knowledge of the grandmothers and grandfathers who used locally available materials--clay, metals and fibers--to make the things that they needed. You will also learn about how they experimented with new techniques and materials made available through connections with other areas near and far.
  • In Making Houses you will learn about the skills and technologies that enabled people to build houses from local materials.
  • In Providing for Families you can explore the Livelihoods of Banda people over the centuries, learn about Making Meals and Accessing Water.
  • Making Communities highlights stories about Banda area people coming together to achieve common goals and building the social ties that make community.
  • A Time before Plastics reminds us of the locally available materials used by the grandmothers and grandfathers in everyday tasks.
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