This book looks at the political economy of the Sisala of Northern Ghana, showing how the creation of their society was influenced from the very beginning by the world system — primarily through slave raiding. Mendonsa shows how their society continues to be influenced by the global economy today, and how such contacts with the outside world are altering their ability to survive in the savanna as farmers.
The two main foci of the book are:
(1) How outside influences (agricultural inputs, consumer goods, cash-cropping, and urban markets) have affected and changed the relationships between elders, women, and young men, as elders attempt to control the labor of their subordinates within the context of the gerontocracy that functions as the political economy of their society.
(2) Dependency on petroleum, petroleum-driven machinery, imported fertilizer, and other chemicals. This is a tenuous position for Sisala farmers, many of them being subordinates — women and young men — who have become involved in cash-cropping. Mendonsa proposes a more sustainable form of farming in animal-traction technology and gives data to show how such technology and organic methods such as composting, green manuring, and intercropping can provide a sustainable base for the ongoing nature of Sisala society.