I have been in Yendi for almost two weeks now, so I figure it’s time for a location profile. Let’s start with some facts and history. Yendi is a really interesting place – I keep learning new things every day. Here is the some of my learnings on the place!
Yendi is a district, with a population of about 125,000. Because of the size, Yendi is known as a municipality, which is a step above the district. I am living in the capital, which is also called Yendi. The city is part of the eastern corridor, a main yam route for Ghana. So the fufu is fantastic! (side note: despite many North American grocery store beliefs, yams are NOT sweet potatoes.)
The city of Yendi is the traditional capital of the Dagbon Kingdom, which comprises the Dagomba people. It seats the Ya-Na, who is the overlord, or top chief, of the Dagomba. And you guessed it -the Dagomba speak Dagbani, that language that I am learning, biela biela (gradually).The district of Yendi is also home to many other ethnic groups: the Konkombas, Akans, Ewes, Basares, Chokosis, Hausas and Moshies.
There are some interesting attractions in the Yendi area: one of them is the site of the Abido Dale, where the battle of the Germans and the Dagombas took place in 1897 as a resistance to slave raiding. It is said that the great warrior Kambona-Kpema rode his horse up the side of a baobab tree, and you can still see the hoof prints today. The Greenwich Meridian also passes straight through Yendi!
For most of last week, I was living in a guesthouse on the main road. As I walked out, I would suddenly find myself the middle of the action; in front of me, a group of young men with their tros parked in the yard, waiting for them to fill. Just to my right, the lady who makes wicked banku and jolaf rice, under the shade of the building. Further ahead, my friend John, who runs a vodaphone credit stand and is dedicated to teaching me Dagbani as the summer rolls on. The street is always exploding – market ladies with sweet bread and pears (aka avocadoes) in baskets on their heads; children screaming “pure wata, pure wata!”; motos and cars weaving in and out with each other and constant horn honking; gaggles of goats running around, expertly dodging cars (those animals are seriously skilled); the smell of meat over a fire, propane stoves and humid air. The best part is that this commotion starts at the healthy hour of approximately 4:30 to 5:00 AM. Truthfully, I don’t know just how early, because I have yet to actually get up at that hour. Although I have heard from a few people now that they wake up at 3:00 in the morning, latest 4:00. No joke.
I just moved in with my family Friday night after work. The compound is situated right on the outskirts of Yendi, off the road to Saboba district. In my family is my host brother, who is in senior high, his mother, and two younger siblings, who are still toddlers. My brother’s friend from school is also living in our compound, as his family lives in Tamale but he is attending school in Yendi. The father works for an electrical company in Tamale and comes home when he gets a chance. I have really been enjoying my stay so far! 🙂