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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A Working Class in Formation? Economic Crisis and Strategies of Survival among Dagara Mine Workers in Ghana
Authors:Lentz, CarolaISNI
Erlmann, Veit
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Ghana
household income
gold mining
Labor and Employment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Economics and Trade
Urbanization and Migration
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:Dagara have been among the earliest migrant labourers from northern Ghana on the goldfields in the south of the country. On the basis of data collected during fieldwork conducted among Dagara workers from the Upper West Region in Ghana in the goldmining centres of Tarkwa and Obuasi in 1988 (including the life stories of some 20 migrants), the authors argue that, contrary to those scholars who assume the existence of an African working class, Dagara miners' struggles for survival have not meant the complete assimilation to a 'Southern' way of life and an irreversible severage of ties with the home area. The general picture of insecure employment opportunities, highly oscillating wage levels and unsteady food supplies in the mines does not favour the emergence of a stable, urbanized and self-reproducing class of second or third generation miners. On the contrary, Dagara migrants have devised numerous and overlapping strategies beyond a wage income and a 'proletarian' way of life in coping with this unstable economic climate. These strategies can be divided into three groups: the combination of different sources of income (farming, bribery and gold theft) with wage labour; the geographical diversification of economic activities within the extended family and the maintenance of close-knit home ties; and the involvement in ethnic forms of organization, such as the Dagara chieftaincy, on the mines. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 181).