2011 when registering for my national service, as mandated by the scheme registrants were suppose to choose three regions.
I then chose Upper East, Upper West, and Northern Region. Luckily for me, I had Upper East Region specifically Sandema the capital and the Paramountcy of the Builsaland.
Just because I wanted to explore the north. My family was then worried because of the unstable nature of the region during 2011/2012 Bawku issues but I still insisted to go because even my village Alavanyo Kpeme was not cool either.
The first day I arrived, I was invited by my Assistant headmaster to enjoy some Builsa Pito in Wiaga a village nearby as customs demand and to thank me for accepting the posting to his district.
At the bar I overhead my asst. Headmaster calling an old man passing by his “slave”. So I quickly asked him if slave trade still exists at the North?
He laughed and replied it is an ethnic joke among the northern communities.
From that day I’ve been a witness to several of that which if you are new you may think those involved were fighting.
Among them is solving an issue the Builsa way which very common expression in the region which personally I have used several times during my stay in the Builsaland.
Solving an issue “the Builsa way” —–This comment appears to have infuriated Martin Amidu even though it was clear Haruna Iddrisu intended it as a harmless joke. So where from that expression and why was Martin Amidu offended at it?
Historically and Traditionally, Builsa people don’t engage the services of herdsmen. They tend to their own cattle.
During the dry season, they allow their cattle and other livestock to go free range since there were no crops to destroy.
But this is not so during the rainy season. At this time the Builsa people make their maize, millet and groundnut farms within 10 to 200 meters from their homes.
At this time, you dare not allow your cattle to go free range. What used to be the practice in the olden days was that a particular child or two in the family were mostly responsible for grazing the family cattle several miles from home.
Generally, these boys and girls would spend several hours on the savanna grasslands, far away from home, tending to the family’s livestock while their parents worked on the farms close to the home.
These “cowboys” were known to be very strong and tough because they spent most of their lives tending to cattle in the hilly, savanna plains and often encountered numerous dangers.
If any disagreement arose among the stick-wielding cowboys, the usual means of settling their difference was to drop all weapons and engage in one on one combat.
The sort of wrestling the Akans call “ntam.” Only that the Builsa version comes with an interesting but potentially “dangerous” twist; the combatants used their heads in this combat. Head – to – head bumps.
With time, the practice found its way into various Builsa communities which became one of their traditional games, wrestling.
Solving matters through one – on – one combat so that afterward the defeated party wouldn’t complain of being cheated.
Now there certainly must be a detailed explanation as to how the saying became a common one among the educated class in Northern Ghana but I was told it was used for the first time in one of the secondary schools, probably Navasco, and gained popularity with time.
Among the educated class, to settle an issue “The Builsa way” means to settle it through a fist fight satisfactorily without hurting each other been hurt.
I remember in 2016 December, Former President Mahama used the same phrase in Builsaland during his campaign tour by saying the 2016 elections will be settled the Builsa way so that the NPP wouldn’t complain of rigging which means the NDC will give the NPP an unimaginable margin that they wouldn’t dare going to the supreme court but unfortunately the NPP rather settled the election in the Builsa way.
Builsa people are very lovely, generous and people loving people but wouldn’t allow you to take them for a ride. They are mostly physically strong and always make victory their hallmark.
I remember during my days in the Builsaland when I contested for the Upper East Regional NASPA President, Some of the chiefs personally took it upon themselves and called some of our delegates to vote for me because of the goodies they saw in me also to make the Builsaland proud because they call me their son.
One thing I love about them is their respect for elders and tradition.
That’s why when The Mighty king of Builsaland Naa Dr. Azantilow joined his ancestors, though some of us were afraid of the chieftaincy issues they were able to settle and enskin new king peacefully.
I’ve really missed their staple food Tz and bittor soup as well as their local drink frofro and almighty pito.
AM STILL A CITIZEN, NOT A SPECTATOR
Efo Worlanyo TSEKPO.
Former Upper East Regional President, NASPA.