Franz Kröger


Vanishing Libraries


Asage Adum from Wiaga-Sinyangsa


“When an old man dies, a whole library is destroyed.” This common saying crossed my mind when I heard about Asage’s death (on December 31, 1981). He died as the then oldest man of Sinyangsa-Badomsa.

At that time I was working with Mr. Leander Amoak, a teacher and compound-head (yeri nyono) who, like me, was fervently interested in Bulsa history and religion but who freely admitted that his own knowledge about old traditions was quite limited. Whenever we hit on a question that could not be answered, another visit to Asage became necessary.

At that time the old man was already completely blind and had given up his occupation as a soothsayer (baano). He was used to sitting or lying on his “bed”, a construction of logs and branches, in the kusung, and it was also here that he liked to spend the nights. Under his “bed” a small fire producing a lot of smoke and a little heat kept him warm and warded off the mosquitoes.

Asage was illiterate, but it was this handicap, together with his blindness, that allowed him to accumulate immense amounts of data and background knowledge in his memory. Compared to European townspeople, an average Bulsa yeri nyono has an incomparable insight into the history and genealogical ties among the members of his lineage. Asage’s knowledge, however, was not restricted to his own clan or lineage. He seemed to know the history and genealogy of any lineage within (and sometimes even outside) Wiaga. It was Asage who told me that in Tandem-Zamsa the people venerated their original ancestors, Anaanateng and his wife, in the form of “stone” (correctly “terracotta”) figures. Without being asked, Asage gave me a comprehensive list of Anaanateng’s descendants, comprising all of the non-Atuga clans and families of Wiaga.

Today, years after Asage’s death, his son Amoak has become a traditional soothsayer and a helpful informant of the author;  many of his educated descendants and their in-laws play or have played an important role in the public affairs of modern Bulsa society: His son, Hilary Atuick, was the parliamentary candidate for Dr. Bilson’s “Third Force Party” in 1981. Hilary’s wife’s full brother is the present chief of Wiaga. The husband of Asage’s granddaughter, Lawyer Alonsi, was District Chief Executive of the Bulsa District. Asage’s grandson, Evans Atuick, is a Research Fellow at CCEIR-UDS Navrongo and Club President (CEO) at Wiaga United and is also presently working for our journal.