Introduction / History
The Balemi (Buem) are a subsistence farming people living in the forested mountains of Ghana's central Volta Region. In the mid-1900's the area led the Volta region in cocoa production, and tin roofing sheets replaced the traditional log/earth roofs seen only on traditional shrine houses today. Most young men leave the towns in search of work in the capital. Traditional marriage customs are dying out. Most children are born out of wedlock and siblings rarely have one set of parents. Education standards have dropped since 1960, and jobs are no longer available for those who can afford education. There is an increased interest in the Mother Tongue and community based education.
The Balemi (Buem) are proud of their role as leaders of the Volta Region. During the Ashanti Wars (1865-90) their chief formed a confederacy to resist Ashanti dominance and kept trade routes open from the North to the coast. Originally guided by earth priests, the Balemi have adopted the Akan chieftaincy system and Asafo company structure. Eastern Buem is predominantly Catholic (with Ewe being the second language) and Western Buem is Presbyterian (using Twi). The majority of the Buem people are nominal or social Christians; few are committed Christians. Buem are well organized and capable of working together well to meet community needs. Unfortunately the reintroduction of the yam festival and its accompanying taboos has created polarization in the community, as some Christians have not agreed to maintain the taboos. This gives the Church an opportunity to help people sort through the cultural-social and cultural-religious distinctions.
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