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Tallensi Pitek, Emily


The Tallensi are agriculturalists living in scattered groupings across northern Ghana. “They constitute a homogenous group both culturally and linguistically, but do not show strong political unity as an ethnic group in the sense ethnicity is commonly manifested and experienced. A majority of the Tallensi live in the basin of the Volta River in northern Ghana. But they have no fixed territorial boundaries, nor are they precisely marked off from neighboring groups by cultural or linguistic usages” (Adem, 2010). The Tallensi religion consists of a system of ancestor worship, and includes ritual practices and divination. Each lineage possesses a group of ancestor spirits, and ritual activities are led by a lineage head. Multiple lineages occasionally come together as a clan for activities such as harvest rituals, but religion is generally practiced at the individual lineage level. The society is best described as coterminous with the religion. This entry focuses on the Volota River basin of Northern Ghana, ca. 1934. At this time, British rule had recently ended, and the administration was changed to Indirect Rule.

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