Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So the title may be a bit cryptic, but I trust it will make sense
as you scroll through the images.  Another option would have been to
change the order of the words and put in some commas.
Too easy!
It all has to do with the excursion we took this weekend to the Volta Region, 
several hours northeast of Accra.
We started by visiting the big Akosombo dam.  See the other things we did
and the places we visited in the pictures below.

We start with a tour of Akosombo Dam.  We learned such memorable
facts as that the dam was finished in 1962, that the human-made Volta
Lake is the largest such lake in the world, that the dam produces 1020
megawatts of power, which is 60% of Ghana's need, and that the depth
right below where we are standing is 140 meters.

The part of the dam where the work is done!

A lone fisherman below the dam.

Dam building in developing countries brings the benefits of flood control
and electricity, which are definitely good for some.  But as is so often true,
poor people usually bear the brunt of the downsides.  Below the dam there
used to be a community of people who lived off the fish and clams in the river.
But the dam destroyed both those means of livelihood.  The people had little
political power, so no compensation was made.  After some years,
they migrated up top, on the shore of the new lake.
 But the fishing there is not as good, and competition was stiffer,
so life is hard.  We toured the new town, called Djemeni (Gemenee).
The fellow in front (Peter) did his PhD Thesis on this town.
He had a lot to teach us.

My right hand man, Charles walking with Peter.  Charles is wearing the shirt
made with the batik cloth I printed in blog post #1.

Part of what happens when communities are ripped apart and impoverished is
that social systems and norms are undermined and destroyed.
It is a common saying in Ghana that here there are no orphans.  Why?
Because the extended families have been so strong that the kids are
always surrounded by family and by people who love them.
Sadly, that is changing.  Down by the water's edge we found these
youngsters mending nets.  They do not go to school.  In fact,
they are slaves -- modern day slaves.  Oftentimes they are
sold to boat owners by desperate parents.  The kids can't
leave; they'd have no place to go anyway.  So they work, mending nets,
diving to the bottom of the lake to free snags, and otherwise working
morning to night.  It is dangerous and death is not uncommon.
The children are given enough to eat, but little else.  The girls slaves generally
make the food for the boys on the boats.
Some of our students work with organizations that are trying to
rescue the child slaves and end this practice in Ghana.
The next day we head to the highest waterfall in West Africa, Wli Falls

Here it is.  I could not fit it all into a camera frame.  There's a lot of water
crashing down there, creating clouds of cool mist,

which apparently creates a perfect environment for a certain type of fruit bat.
There were thousands of them.

Here are some of them, clinging to the walls.
We found them at what is called a monkey sanctuary.  The name of the place is 
Tafi Atome.  Villagers used to kill and eat these Mona Monkeys, 
but then realized they could do better by protecting the monkeys and 
letting tourists like us come and see them....and also feed them.

We didn't have any bananas yet, but this one thought he'd give Josh
a little unsolicited backscratching.  

Get hold of a banana in this area and it won't last long.  You'll have a "friend"
in short order, but the friendship will last only about as long as the banana.

This guy's enjoying one he got away with.

Shannon has a friend.

And so does Josh.  These little monkey hands were highly experienced
at peeling these bananas.  
 So there you have it...  
AND SOME RAVENOUS MONKEYS, reordered and with commas.

All in all, some good learning and some good times!

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