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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Hard work, determination, and luck: biographical narratives of a northern Ghanaian elite
Author:Lentz, CarolaISNI
Periodical:Ghana Studies (ISSN 1536-5514)
Geographic term:Ghana
middle class
academic achievement
social mobility
Abstract:In the eyes of many Dagara villagers in northern Ghana, higher education is a strategy of such rare and uncertain returns that it is much safer for a peasant boy to either immediately work on the family farm or pursue a shorter education that guarantees early gainful employment. That it was necessary, and required a good deal of hard-headedness, to ignore the elders' advice and disobey the fundamental rules of seniority, is an often repeated argument in educated men's retrospective justification of their educational trajectory. Mostly based on interviews, the present paper explores the rhetorical strategies to which highly-educated Dagara men typically resort when narrating their biographies. It looks at the arguments presented with respect to three turning points on the pathway to upper middle class status, namely access to primary education, enrolment in secondary school and entry into the labour market after tertiary education. These men attribute their upward social mobility to a mixture of innate qualities, personal determination, hard work and 'luck'. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]