Improving African Futures Using Lessons from the Past


A livelihood refers to how people get necessities of life like food, shelter and clothing. For livelihoods to be sustainable, people need to have skills and access to resources that allow them to meet their household needs. Skills are often learned in schools today, but in centuries past they were learned from parents, grandparents and other elders as part of daily life.

In the early 21st century, the livelihoods of people living in Banda include farming, fishing, trading, store-keeping, milling, vehicle repair, carpentry, masonry, teaching and government work, among many possibilities. While some of these 21st-century livelihoods are recent developments, others have a long history that we can learn about through archaeology. For many centuries, people living in the Banda area have provided for their families using skills and technologies of farming, fishing, hunting and crafting. These skills and technologies are centuries old, at the same time as archaeology shows us how the grandfathers and grandmothers adjusted to changing circumstances during their lifetimes. They took up new opportunities while drawing on their experience and knowledge as they responded to social and environmental changes.

Livelihoods through Time

Built in the early years of the 21st century where the Black Volta River passes through the Banda hills, the Bui Hydroelectric Dam brought many changes to livelihoods in the Banda area, particularly for fishermen and farmers living closeby. Click on the images below to see some of the changes.

Before the dam was built and newly paved roads brought more regular vehicle traffic to the area, most people’s livelihoods in the area involved farming, fishing, hunting and crafting. Each of these activities requires access to resources: in the case of farming, to land; in the case of fishing, to rivers; in the case of hunting, to places where animals can be found; and in the case of crafting, to raw materials used to make things. Each activity required its own tools and technologies. Farming requires cutlasses, hoes, knowledge of the land and weather. Fishing relies on boats, traps, nets, as well as knowledge of the river and its resources. Hunting depends on weapons, traps and knowledge of animals. And crafting requires tools and knowledge used to make things from clay, metal, fiber and wood. To learn more about these livelihoods and their histories in Banda, click on the links below.

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