John B.A. Agandin




John A. Agandin, born at Sandema- Balansa (in 1983), attended Balansa Primary School, Ayieta Junior High School and Sandema Secondary Technical High School. He was trained as a teacher at St. John Bosco’s Training College in Navrongo and taught in Sandema Junior High School between 2006 and 2008. He studied Geography at the University of Ghana and Development Geography at the University of Bergen, Norway. Currently he is working as a Research Officer at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Accra.

He has a lively devotion to literary and cultural works and has recently published a collection of Bulsa folktales titled “The Adventures of Asuom – Folktales from Northern Ghana”, published by Afram Publications Ghana Ltd.


     The Matrimonial dance (Nipok-fiak gogta 





The song cut through the waves

Of the windy December night.

Mother hushes the children

As we scramble to the rooftops

Straining our ears to hear

The name of the newly married man.

His father’s father’s name in fact.

The song sounds faint and far

As the gentle harmattan breeze

Carries the evening voices away.



The house and its inhabitants are still now

Awaiting the breeze and the voices

To bring home the glad tidings

Of the young man who has attained

The noble feat of marriage.

Excitement looms, hearts skip faster

And then acclaim and applause

As the breeze turns our way.

Names of the great great grandfathers

Of the groom are mentioned in song

And their appellations are intoned joyfully

Whilst poking fun and mockery at competitors

Who are now told to go and clear farmlands

Having lost the race to marry the damsel.



The talk of the house turns to marriage

Those who have recently married

And those eligible to wed

Are the subject of our chatter.

There is a renewed urgency in our steps

And the work of cooking the evening meal

Is carried on with new energy and intent.

Mother calls out to the kitchen

That sister should not “over hurry” the TZ

As big brother scurries into the room

To sort out a pair of trousers and sandals

All in preparation for the nuptial dance.



Whispers, giggles and excited babble

Is heard all over the yard

As young boys and girls talk about

The impending dance

That is to come so far far away.

For the bride is destined far away.

So father forbade the young ones to go

For the night is pitch dark and gloomy

With thick harmattan dust

You cannot see a finger in front of your nose!

Yet for all that, to the dance we must go.



Sister stumbles out coughing

Weeping with smoke in her eyes

Tripping over firewood, spilling the salt

And upsetting kaponta1 all over the floor.

In anger father forbids her going

And she saunters about in the yard sulking

As mother goes to complete the cooking.

It is a vain command from father though

For go, she must, as many others like her.

They will scale the walls of the house

Walls that they normally consider high.

From all corners of the land

Young girls and even wives will scale

Their fathers and husbands compounds

To mingle with their peers at the bridal dance.



There will be no sleep tonight

No rest for weary limps

Tonight is a celebration of continuity.

The old recall their own nuptials

And spring onto the dance floor

To shake old congealed limps.

The youthful are eager

To catch the eyes of new admirers

And jump into the crowded floor

Dancing with aptitude and vigor

As if possessed by the spirits

Displaying great skill and potency.



The children are not left out

For they also must practice

To steady their limps and steps.

As they will take over the mantle

In their own time.

Fowls are slaughtered

Money is flung or pressed on foreheads

And bottles of akpeteshie are drained

Until bodies become numb to the cold

Of the approaching dawn.



The elderly are always first to leave

But the young stay on

Dancing and drinking the night away

Rubbing bodies in the nuptial dance.

Maidens showcase their form and skills

Earning admiration from young men.

Many acquaintances will be struck

Friendships mooted

Lovers acquired

And the seeds of new nuptials sown.



As the sun creeps towards the east to be born,

An ecstatic night draws to a close

And we all steal back home

To rest aching limps on wearied mats

In preparation for another day

And anticipating the next market day

When the ritual would be renewed.


1Thick porridge used in preparing TZ






The sun rose quickly and majestically

Shining happily in all brilliance

His rays struck with fierce-some joy

Upon the bare brown earth.

There is not a cloud in the heavens

Energy gushes forth in torrents,

All life glows with vigour and intent,

Birds, beasts, gods and men.

The land is awake, zealous and festive

It is an hallowed day,

Bubbly with contentment and laughter.



Soon the drums thrill, the whistles blow

Goats and sheep, rams and bulls

Bleat and moo in joyous ecstasy.

The birds chirp, the doves coo

Kids and calves bray and fray round the house

And smoke rises from cooking places.

It is Feok!

This day we shall eat and be merry

We shall evoke and celebrate

And dance with strength and skill

The dance of our fathers.

Like one mighty heart soon the land

Will throb with our heavy dance steps.



We will recall the valour and skill,

The courage and strength,

And the charity of our fathers,

Who rose against the cowardly Babatu

and his marauding beasts

And slew and smote them upon the plains.



Oh how are the mighty fallen?

Who defied even the pale rulers of the land?

That piled and pillaged the countryside

And dared to raise their haughty brows

Against the valiant of our land?

They met more than their match here.

At their peril they fought the sons of Buluk

Supposing to add them to their haul

But a call came from Acham

A war cry resounded round Azagsuk.

This land breeds gods not men

The cowards fled forth to their death!



Let the drums roll

And the horns and whistles blow

Let it be told over the rooftops

And announced over the re-diffusion boxes

Let all join in the praise of the land

Where men are men by deeds

As they drink the delights of battle

For the sheer love of the motherland.

Let the dainty beauties of the land,

The proud mothers of the soil,

The noble fathers of the plains,

And the energetic youth of the country,

File forth to the market place.

Let none remain at home

Neither the patriarch of five score years

Nor the infant at the breast.



Let the trees and hills resound with war cries

Let us retell the tales of gallantry

Let us join in the dance of the ancestors

And raise a cloud of dust today

Let us eat maasa and koosa;

And chew kola nuts and tobacco;

Let us drink the pito pots dry;

Let us find us wives today;

Earth, stop and stare!

It is Feok!




Morning after Feok



The land is soundless and still

As the mighty calm after the storm

Tired and worn out from the trampling

And stomping these last many days gone by

From homes, to the palace, the market

And back to homes again with drums

Humming and buzzing all day nonstop

Horns and whistles calling from rooftops

Singing the praise of ancient warriors

Men’s blood boiling in response

And hearts throbbing with the drums

All was now silent and spent.



The patter of the feet of excited children

The dainty steps of maidens

The eager stride of energetic youths

The heavy drag of grey bearded old men

The resounding trod of war dancers

And sweaty women chasing them

Round and round the market place

That made the land throb and tremble

All that is now still and resting.

All is wearied with aching joints

And sprained muscles sore

None is stirring.



The air is still and thick

Clad with a heavy cloak of dust

Looming over the horizon

Like an approaching storm.

The trees stand motionless

Even the birds are not stirring yet

Safe one solitary strange bird

Calling in the distance

Breaking the silence before the break

Of the whizzing harmattan wind

That will dissipate the dusty curtain

And all come alive at once again.