The story is told of how in the early months of 1902, Togbe Tekple and Togbe Acolatse from Srogbe in the Anlo area of the Volta Region decided to look for their brother, James Acolatse, who had a job in the Western Region during the construction of the Takoradi Port and the railways.
They arrived in a canoe at the top of the sandy beaches of ‘Shama and christened the place Shama Kedzi,’ meaning ‘the top of the Shama sand’. They felt at home and decided to settle there after they had found their brother.
It was a great moment of reunion for James Acolatse the port worker and his siblings. Oral tradition has it that having been warmly welcomed by the natives of the area, they soon became a formidable community and were later joined by others from their home area.
That resulted in intermarriages as well. Anlo Village, as it later became known by virtue of the fact that most of the people were kinsmen from the Anlo area, gradually developed into a sizeable community.
Some natives of Srogbe, notably Adelashie Agbavitor, Ayedzinu and Taylor, also migrated to Anlo Village and led in development efforts that resulted in the establishment of a school for the community as the population of the children grew and the need for education became obvious.
However, almost a century after the two Togbes landed on the top of the Shama sand, the resultant Anlo Village, the bustling fishing and farming community, now with a population of over 4,000, which has produced many prominent citizens, stands in danger of being washed away by the ravaging sea unless immediate steps are taken to resettle the community.
Currently, the sea has reduced the village into a small strip of land sandwiched by the high tides and swelling lagoon as well as the River Pra.
Some portions of the land mass of the village have been reduced to a stretch between 60 and 100 metres between the sea and the lagoon.
Education is under threat as the sand has swallowed the only school building and the children have to trek to nearby villages to attend school. Wells that served as the source of water for the community have been swallowed by the sea, leaving many with no source of potable water while social services have been cut by the rage of the waves.
Lives and properties
A community leader, Francis Borlu, who was born and bred at the Anlo Village, says hundreds of metres of land have been lost to the sea. He points to several landmarks, which he said used to be part of the village, which have now been “swallowed by the sea”.
With despair clearly on their faces, many residents told the Daily Graphic that the ‘angry’ sea had claimed lives and destroyed residential, commercial and communal infrastructure. That aside, many have been left poverty-striken after the sea consumed their lifetime investments.
The situation has also displaced several hundreds of people who are now putting up with friends and relatives in unaffected areas such as Shama Krobo, Bronokrom, Formanye and Bosomso.
During a tour by the Daily Graphic news team, it was realised that electricity poles have been uprooted by the sea, forcing the Electricity Company of Ghana to disconnect part of the community and salvage its cables which were coiled and packed at the community centre.
Farming and fishing
Farming and fishing, which are the main occupation of the people, are currently under threat as thousands of mature coconut trees have been uprooted and some farms affected. Fishing boats have no berthing space and there is no place for the pulling and mending of fishing nets.
The more than two-hour tour of the community and coast by the Daily Graphic revealed heartbreaking sights of foundations of buildings deep in the sea, while others have their roofs destroyed and living rooms and bedrooms filled with sand.
Other residential facilities have weak foundations, with deep cracks in the walls as a result of the impact of the sea. Sadly, some residents were left with no option but to continue occupying the affected structures.
Travelling to Shama, the district capital, by boat is less than 20 minutes but the same journey by road through Beposo, Daboase Junction, Ohiamadwen and Shama Kumasi could take about two hours.
With the oil find in the Western Region, land has become one of the hottest commodities; therefore, indigenous people have become protective of their boundaries and so the issue of resettlement has become a difficult subject to broach due to the expensive nature of land, making the task of resettling the people an uphill one.
The Chief of Anlo Village, Togbe Tekpele Gaakor, said the community leaders were holding talks with the landowners for space. “We have been squeezed enough by the sea; here behind the village is a lagoon and a wetland that is not habitable.”
The Regional Director of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Abdule Ganiyu Mohammed, said: “What we need now is resettlement of the people. We have done a lot of work in the area, getting to know the real landowners, making sure that when the resettlement is done, the people will not have other issues to deal with. We will not wait for disaster. We will proactively engage the assembly, the community and the stakeholders to avert any disaster.”
The community’s contribution to national development through fishing and farming cannot be underestimated.
In the words of Mr Ganiyu, “they contribute to the national economy, help to provide our protein needs and ultimately they are Ghanaians and must not be neglected at this critical moment.”