Sisaala Culture

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The content of this page was developed from the data and technical notes of Steven Moran.


Historically, Sisaalas were farmers, and they inherited their lands from their ancestors. Today approximately 80% of Sisaalas in Lambussie and surrounding areas are farmers by profession, and they are considered to be the largest group of farmers by other ethnic groups in this area.

Climate in Lambussie

The Lambussie area is typically a dry, arid land with equatorial dry and wet seasons. The wet season lasts from July until November, and is the fertile time for many crops including rice, groundnuts (peanuts), and other fruits and vegetables. The dry season makes up the rest of the year, with highest temperatures in April, May and June. The seasons are somewhat different in Southern Ghana, with the dry season ending in late March or April, and the wet season lasting from June until October, typically.

The speech community

The majority of Western Sisaala speakers live in Lambussie. . Other villages that also have Sisaala speakers, though they are not the language majority, include Gullu [gullu], Samor [samor], Sukki [sukki], Sinna [sinna], Dende [dɛndæ], Chung [ʦung], Nawie [nawie], Bulli [bulli], Fiellamore [fiɛllamore], Jawie [ʣawie], Puzani [puzæni], Wiiru [wiiru], Bo [bo], Hamale [hamale], Boo [buu], Naballa [naballa], Dahillie [dahɩlli], Pina [pina], Kongwalla [koŋwalla], and Hapa [haapa]. Most of these villages have Dagaate people as well as settlers from other ethnic groups. There are other groups inhabiting areas where Western Sisaala is the majority language, including the Dagaate, Wala, Fulanis, and Mosi. The Fulanis and Mosi (also known as Moshi) are nomadic peoples who are mainly shepherds of livestock. There is a dialect continuum that spreads from Lambussie, partially to the north but mainly to the east. Each village has its own dialect, though dialects spoken in surrounding villages are still mutually intelligible.

There are few, if any, monolingual Western Sisaala speakers. Interaction is common among Western Sisaala, Dagaare, and Wala speakers; therefore, many Western Sisaala speakers are multilingual in Dagaare and Wale. In Western Sisaala, loanwords are predominantly from English, Hausa, and Twi. Most loanwords are words for mechanical or technological items or for fruits and other edibles that are now brought to the Upper West Region from other areas.

Language in school

Those who live and grow up in Lambussie learn to speak Western Sisaala as a first language and later learn English and Dagaare in school. English is the official language of Ghana and is taught in schools and is spoken at least functionally by most individuals. In schools in Lambussie and surrounding villages where Sisaalas live, Dagaare is also taught. This is because Dagaare is one of nine government-sponsored languages, and it is densely spoken in this area. Sisaala children learn Dagaare in school because it is one of the official literacy languages of Ghana and a test subject in this area.

Students are tested in an array of subjects at a presecondary level which determines their possibilities for further education. This sociolinguistic situation is unfortunately not conductive to Sisaala-language learning. Because education is seen as the key to a child's future, spending valuable time learning essential testing subjects is preferred to having Western Sisaala taught in schools. The deteriorating effects of not having access to Sisaala written materials and of learning other languages in school may be apparent in Western Sisaala's numeral system. Whereas elders and adults report their ability to count up to one million, using Western Sisaala native forms, teenagers' and children's ability to count using native Western Sisaala forms is very small if existent at all. Generally, counting is done in English.

Follow the path of the Sisaala Data

  1. Get started: Summary of the Sisaala conversion
  2. Digitize Text: Text section (Classroom)
  3. Create a Database: XML section (Classroom)
  4. Digitize Audio: Audio section (Classroom)
  5. Digitize Video: Video section (Classroom)
  6. Register Metadata: Metadata section (Classroom)

User Contributed Notes
E-MELD School of Best Practices: Sisaala Culture
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