From dawn hunts to market treks; the indomitable spirit of rural life in “born to win”


By Kingsley Larbi (Rev. Prof)

In the rich needlepoint of Rev. Prof. E. Kingsley Larbi’s memoir “BORN TO WIN,” Chapter 4 stands out as a vivid portrayal of the intricacies and enduring spirit of rural life. This chapter, titled “Economic Life in a Rural Setting,” delves deep into the economic activities, challenges, and communal bonds that shaped the childhood and formative years of the author in a Ghanaian village.

Early Morning Ventures: The Mango Hunt

One of the most evocative recollections in this chapter is the early morning mango hunts. As children, waking up at dawn with torchlights to gather mangoes that had fallen from wild trees was more than just a routine, it was a thrilling economic game. This activity, free from the constraints of ownership, underscored the communal sharing and the unspoken competition among the village kids. It wasn’t just about the mangoes; it was about the joy of discovery, the excitement of the hunt, and the subtle lessons in resourcefulness and early rising.

This practice reflects a broader cultural narrative where children, from a young age, were integrated into the economic fabric of the community. The absence of rivalry, despite the competitive nature of the hunt, speaks volumes about the communal ethos that governed rural life. It was a blend of cooperation and individual initiative, a theme that runs throughout Larbi’s memoirs.

The Economic Endeavors of a Family

Rev. Prof. Larbi’s father was a man of many trades, a small-scale cocoa farmer, a palm wine tapper, and an occasional hunter. Each of these roles brought a unique flavor to the family’s sustenance. Cocoa farming and palm wine tapping were the mainstays, but the occasional success in hunting added an exciting twist to their diet, providing not just food but a sense of accomplishment and adventure.

However, the father’s economic contributions were hampered by his drinking and smoking habits, vices that, according to traditional beliefs, were attributed to malevolent forces. The narrative doesn’t shy away from these challenges, presenting a balanced view of the man’s efforts and struggles. This honesty adds depth to the memoir, showcasing the complexities of rural livelihoods and the personal battles intertwined with them.

In stark contrast, Larbi’s mother emerges as a paragon of resilience and industriousness. Her economic activities were diverse and consistent, ranging from cash crop farming of cocoyam, plantain, and maize to the production of palm oil and kenkey. Her ability to manage these various enterprises, often with the help of her children, highlights the pivotal role of women in rural economies. The chapter details how market days were not just economic activities but social events that knitted the community together, with children learning the ropes of trade and responsibility.

Market Days and the Rural Economy

Market days, particularly at Tetekasom and Dokorokyewa, were significant undertakings. They involved long treks, often with heavy loads of farm produce, which sometimes extended beyond regular school hours. Larbi’s recollections of accompanying his mother to these markets reveal a childhood marked by hard work and the balancing act between education and economic contribution.

The chapter paints a vivid picture of the logistical challenges faced during these market expeditions. The journey to Dokorokyewa, for instance, was a grueling 20-kilometer trek over difficult terrain, including the perilous crossing of the River Densu. These expeditions were fraught with risks, especially during the rainy season, yet they were an integral part of rural economic life.

Lessons in Resilience and Adaptability

The economic life depicted in Chapter 4 is not just about survival; it’s about the resilience and adaptability of rural folks. Despite the physical and economic challenges, there was a prevailing sense of community and mutual support. Larbi’s experiences of helping his mother, whether in the farm or at the market, instilled in him the values of hard work, responsibility, and empathy.

These early experiences, though fraught with difficulties, were formative in shaping Larbi’s character and outlook on life. The blend of economic activities, from farming to hunting, and the involvement of every family member illustrates a well-rounded approach to rural livelihoods where everyone had a role to play.


Chapter 4 of “BORN TO WIN” by Rev. Prof. E. Kingsley Larbi is a testament to the indomitable spirit of rural life. It captures the essence of a community bound by shared labor, economic interdependence, and an unwavering commitment to overcoming the odds. Through vivid storytelling and reflective insights, Larbi offers a window into a world where the simple act of collecting mangoes at dawn becomes a metaphor for the larger economic and social dynamics at play. This chapter not only honors the hard work and resilience of rural communities but also serves as an inspiration for future generations to appreciate and build upon these foundational experiences.

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