The Sisaala tribe: Distinct from the Dagaaba

Discussion in 'Black History Main Forum' started by ilevi, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. ilevi

    ilevi Active Member

    The Sisala are a small tribe among the larger Dagaaba tribe. They have special practices/institutions that they consider the "secrets" of their society, apart from their Dagaaba/Mossi neighbors. As the Earth shrine cult/Tengaan is virtually a "Moshie-Dagaaba" practice, the Sisala has more or of a distinct practice.

    Tolbie is a special priest, in Sisala-land, who deals with the problems facing the village like, famine and disease. He is also the priest in office who's knife is considered a symbol of the priesthood.

    I think that this will be my FINAL post on tribes found below the Sahara as, my initial focus was on revealing the Dagaaba/Moshi people and their ways.

    The Bagre Myth is somewhat similar to the Narratives of the Sisala, and their practices and culture reflect that of their kin (six-day work cycle-no mention of 7th day rest, good and bad Kantomo etc.).

    EDWARD TENGAN. 1991.

    “Our grandfathers (nabaalwa) say that Wiisse created one man and one woman in the beginning and told them not to eat of a certain fruit. He promised them plenty of children and lasting joy if they obeyed his command. Unfortunately, Wiise was still in the process of polishing up his creatures when these humans disobeyed his law. Wiise then decided to throw down to earth both the finished (good) and unfinished (bad) animals, saying to the human beings; ‘take your trouble’. This is why we have bad animals on earth which constantly disturb humans.”

    “All human beings come from one man and one woman. Wiise created man and woman and let them lie apart. He then used some ashes to mark a boundary between them. As man, unlike the woman, is capable of controlling his passions, he remained on his side. However, the woman very soon found she could not control herself. So, after some time, this frog-like being hopped towards the man’s section. Upon reaching the boundary, she was able to hop over it. She then went and had sexual intercourse with the man and returned to her place without leaving any traces. After some time, the man whose passions had been aroused by the recent encounter, found it impossible to control himself. This ‘earthworm’ then began to creep towards the woman’s section. He crept across the boundary to sleep with the woman, thus leaving traces of his movements as he went there and back to his section. Later on , Wiise came down to complain that the boundaries he had set had been broken. The woman immediately put the blame on the man by pointing to the traces he had left behind. However, Wiise who had seen all what took place, reprimanded the woman saying, ‘it is you who had first went over to the man and aroused his appetite. Normally, the children you deliver ought to be yours. But because of this fault of yours, you will suffer the pain of childbirth as well as suckle the children; but they shall belong to your husband’.”

    pg. 152-153

    Rituals related to the Agricultural Cycle: The Ushering in of the Rainy Season

    “For the Sisala, the most significant ritual linked with the maintenance of their universe is the ushering in of the rainy season by the totina. As noted earlier, both its performance and its timing are vital for the aligning of the agricultural activities of the people with the natural cycle. This concurrence is vital for successful farming. Precisely at the time when the rainy season is breaking in and before anyone goes to sow, the toting has to tend the earth. On the day designated for this ritual, his wife gets up, very early in the morning, in order to prepare some sheanut butter. ( As this is a long process, she would have to get up by 3:00 a.m., in order to have it ready for the break of dawn when it will be needed). Whilst she is preparing this butter, she is not expected to eat anything or talk to anyone. By dawn, when the butter will be ready, she is given some millet to grind. The butter, the millet flour and some water are then brought to the Totina and Kumbese who by this time have gathered in the former’s house. The flour is mixed with water and some of the butter. It is then divided into two equal portions, the first half of which is set before the Kumbese. The latter consume the concoction together in silence, deliberately dropping some of it to the ground. The other half is then passed on to the totina. The latter, accompanied by his assistant, the Tolbie, enters the “room” of the Tie. Here, the two offer a black chicken to the land. They then consume the flour in the same manner as the Kumbese did. All this happens behind closed doors. It is believed that, should anyone come to knock on the door in the process of the ritual, all those in the room will die. Guards are therefore posted at the gates of the room where the Kumbese are convened, to ward off any visitors”.


    Sisaala are often stated to be related to Moshi but I still don't see it as true. The Dagaaba (sub-tribe of Moshe) outnumber the Sisaala that they share the land with, and it is stated that the latter acquired many customs from the former. In this very book, an oral account is recorded where a person states that the Dagaaba believe that the Sisaala are their kin but, the Sisaala do not see it this way. Sisaala are known to be "Gurune", and the latter group is not related to the Moshi tribe. Aside from that, their creation story has some similarity with Bagre but, it is not the same. Bagre is what I believe a "Bible" or history book of the Moshi/Dagaaba in general. Just wanted to clear some misconceptions.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017

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