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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Is the Dagara an acephalous society?
Author:Poda, Evariste N.ISNI
Periodical:Hemispheres: Studies on Cultures and Societies
Geographic terms:Burkina Faso
acephalous society
Abstract:For many authors, Dagara society (Ghana, Burkina Faso) is 'acephalous'. The Dagara themselves recognize that they have no centralized political structure responsible for public service management and with the absolute right to exercise violence, and that they possess a keen sense of freedom. However, this does not mean that the Dagara enjoy unrestricted liberty. In fact, Dagara society is articulated into three levels of social, political and managerial commandment, viz. the extended family ('yir'), the patrilineage ('dog-lu') and the chieftaincy of the land ('tegan-yélé'). An individual's freedom of expression in traditional Dagara society was severely restricted. A son's status was inferior to that of his male parents, a youth had to defer to his elders, a daughter to her mother. A young man's status of inferiority meant that he was not free to choose his first marriage partner and that while his biological father remained alive, he could not leave his father's house to build his own house elsewhere. Nor could he cultivate his own fields. Dagara society functioned according to a principle of seniority at all levels. However, following contact with other civilizations, in particular Western civilization, Dagara society is changing in many respects. Girls are now going to school, forced marriage is no longer practised, and there has been a massive conversion to Catholicism. Bibliogr., notes, ref.