‘Light Over The Volta’: The Mission of The White Fathers

Lentz Carola

in Ethnicity and the Making of History in Northern Ghana

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748624010
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652969 | DOI:
‘Light Over The Volta’: The Mission of The White Fathers

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Since 1929, the White Fathers had converted thousands of men and women from North-Western Ghana and the neighbouring French colony to Catholicism. Today, Dagara and Dagaba bishops officiate in three of the four dioceses in Northern Ghana, and the majority of the faculty of the theological seminary in Tamale comes from the North-West — facts that irritate many non-Dagara. The Catholic mission was particularly attractive to those who were marginal in the chieftaincy — women, younger men and ‘late-comers’, without allodial land rights. The mission of the White Fathers not only drew the boundaries of the ‘Dagaaba’ community and defined its culture differently from the colonial authorities and the chiefs, it also promoted the formation of a separate educated elite, which was later to participate actively in the debates concerning ethnic politics and cultural practice. Mission schools also provided social groups with access to education who would otherwise not have been educated at all, or at least not at such an early stage, by the native authority schools, due to their remoteness from the chiefs.

Keywords: White Fathers; North-Western Ghana; Catholicism; Dagara; Dagaba; Catholic mission; chieftaincy; ethnic politics; elite; education

Chapter.  9877 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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