Our last day in Odeh was a chance to reflect on what we’ve seen and ways to stay involved. The needs in Aprade and Odeh are well defined with two great leaders at the helm, Nana Rokoto and Nana Ama. They want to create a space for orphans and elders without family to support one another, and a library for kids to study.
We interviewed Nana Rokoto and Nana Ama about their project and talked about ways to infuse cultural preservation and traditional knowledge into their development work. From what we have heard, elders in the community are not the source of knowledge they used to be. Their traditional ideas are squeezed out by the modern technologies of television and Internet. Traditionally, youth would bring a “toll” to the elders in the form of Schnapps, food, or even chores. The elders would then pass on their traditional knowledge to the youth. In the process they would build a relationship. According to Rokoto and Ama, the value of such information is decreasing and so fewer tolls are paid.
For us folklorists, this is an interesting problem to think about, and a good way to expand our public folklore training and documentation skills.