"With the collaboration from Cambridge, I am hoping to engage frontline communities in Ghana and parts of Africa facing the impacts of climate change, and highlight African traditional conservational ideas within the communities that protect the environment and promote resilience".
I paced languidly across the street up the hill out of hunger. It was too early for breakfast when I left home so my muscles were probably wringing every grain of glycogen for endurance. I looked totally disinterested in surrounding activities—the boring traffic jam on the Achimota-Pokuase stretch that can easily put many a motorist to sleep, and of course, the showdown involving troskis at the ACP bus stop cluttering for passengers which is a frequent chaos.
My attention was however stolen from approximately 50 meters away; a long and powerful drilling equipment, manned by some Chinese people crushed the top soil besides the Sunkwa River. Leaving rock debris in its wake, the heavy duty machine grubbed into the bedrock and pulled up rock samples to the surface. Its operators looked on appeased at its strength and efficiency. I ogled, as the noise from the machine commensurate with its mammoth horse power pummeled my ear drums. It was my third time in Pokuase to meet my contact person called Jack.
After he welcomed me, I quizzed, “what are they doing with the machine?” He replied, “because of the highway under construction, the engineers want to know if the land is strong enough to hold the overpass”. My visit had coincided with construction work for the $84m three tier Pokuase Interchange jointly funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Ghana (GoG) to be completed in April 2020. That Chinese workforce and tech are heavily involved in this project is an overwhelming glimpse of Beijing's ambitious 'Made in China 2025' programme that is heavily targeted by the Trump-led US administration, in what has now morphed into a Sino-US trade war.
|Artistic impression of the Pokuase Interchange. Credit: Citi Newsroom|
My interest in Pokuase however is two-fold; the Gua Koo forest reserve, a sacred groove that stretches eastwards towards Pokuase township before ACP junction, and the Sunkwa River which flows from the forest and serves the community and its environs. While the forest is under imminent threat, the destruction of the water body is looming. The unique and striking story of conservation behind the forest and the river is worth telling and listening. I am taking on this project as part of my partnership with the Cambridge Calimate Frontline Programme (CCFP) based in the University of Cambridge in the UK.
With the collaboration from Cambridge, I am hoping to engage frontline communities in Ghana and parts of Africa facing the impacts of climate change, and highlight African traditional conservation ideas within the communities that protect the environment and promote resilience. I am hoping to communicate conservation ideas rooted in African culture and value systems that are alien to Western thought.
I have spent the past 2 months working with a dedicated team of close friends and environmentalists to sample which community to engage and what story to tell first. With a long list of amazing places with incredible stories to tell, I shudder to say that Gua Koo and Sunkwa are just a fraction of undocumented cases. I will be keeping a diary of this journey and I hope that you will share the story as it is told.
My meeting with Jack today was successful. He led me to meet the Asafoatse of the area whose family is the custodian of Gua Koo. This will be followed by another meeting with the elders before our team can finally be granted access to conduct interviews and do a video recording. The broad grin of excitement worn on my face out of a successful meeting today was so real, like the whiffs of frying oil that greeted my nostrils with a tinge of déjà vu as I exited my host’s compound. Ah! The woman is frying my favorite spring rolls here!