Fewer things captivate the human attention than stories of endurance and sheer will to survive despite all kinds of odds and obstacles. Many of such stories exists in so many forms and twists and we never get tired of them since they always remind our brains of not giving up easily when faced with life’s challenges. Somewhere in the Western region of Ghana, on the surface of a black lays a relatively small civilization that is preserving history the best way they know.
The history of how this civilization came to exist on the surface of the lake
This unique settlement which is the only of its kind in Ghana is found at the South Western part of the Western Region of Ghana. The Western region of Ghana is well known for its rich natural resources, wildlife and great weather and is very popular for its gold and diamond mines as well as the crude oil being mined there. The Nzema community of Amanzule which is about 3 hours’ drive and 90km drive West from Takoradi – the regional capital of the Western region is where this settlement is. The indigenes called the settlement Nzulezu which literally means “on the water” in the Nzema language. The whole village has been built on stilts in the lake Tadane (also called Lake Amanzuri) and this is the only settlement in Ghana built on water. Nzulezu is one of the two full stilt villages in Africa making it a very important attraction.
The ancestors of the inhabitants of the present day Nzulezu once found themselves living peacefully in an area situated in modern day Mali. In time as was common back then, they had disputes with some people who came from areas that exist today in the country of Senegal. The Senegalese proved to be too mighty for them in terms of military strength and because of that constantly harassed them and made their lives difficult. Even though no particular reason has been given for the wars, it is presumed to be most likely a scramble for natural resources. The constant defeats and harassments in the hand of the Senegalese forced them to consult their oracle on what to do to avoid being annihilated which was a fear that seemed to be on its way to becoming a reality.
Word came from the oracle which did not look good. They were informed that if they continued fighting with the Senegalese, they will fall and probably their worst fears may be realized. So the only solution the oracle prescribed was for them to pack their belongings and leave the region thereby saving their lives. In those days the oracle’s word was law unto the people and dictates were obeyed to the letter. So they left the Malian region in search of a peaceful place where they can live without worry. They started their journey in the night to avoid detection by their enemies and were being led by their god who spoke through a linguist called Moga (Pronounced nasally) and their Chief was called Nana Tapika who was their leader. There were no automobiles then and so they entered into the forests and headed southwards to Burkina Faso and subsequently, Ghana by foot.
In Ghana the gods led them to settle in a town called Wenchi in the Bono region of Ghana; after some time they left and settled again at Techiman all these settlements were in the forest where they remained obscure to the other inhabitants. From Techiman, they once again packed up and settled at Esipong at Sekondi and then later, Bakanta which is a coastal town in the Western Region of Ghana. In those days, modern orthodox medicine was not available and the migrating tribe used parts of plants, notably the leaves to cure their various ailments they had in the period of the travel, those who recovered continued the journey whereas those who perished were left behind or buried. So they had a lot of mortalities especially the women and young ones because of the migration and crude medical care.
When they got to Bakanta, they came across a very clean water body that extends to the ocean which presented a problem of how to cross it to the other side. They once again consulted the oracle who instructed them to log wood from the forest and construct something like a raft to help them cross the water body. They obeyed and went into the rafts, each one and his family and the water currents took them to a bigger water body which turns out to be the present day Lake Tadane (Amansuri). They settled on its bank; one problem they faced was strong winds which pushed their fires to burn their wooden houses. The linguist who was also a fisherman was hunting for fish one day when he realized that the winds at the other side of the lake was very mild so he went back and informed the Chief and elders who then relocated the whole village to that side of the lake. Upon their arrival, the god leading them handed them to the god of the lake and vanished.
The language they spoke from Mali was called Ewotiri and when they had settled, they realized that they had lost a big chunk of their population so they went into the Nzema Township to marry the women to replenish their population. When the women came to Nzulezu, they could not speak the Ewotiri and so the people learned the Nzema language and spoke it with their children. Sadly, the Ewotiri language is now extinct and no one today speaks it in Nzulezu.
Today, the Nzulezu settlement has become a tourist attraction due to the endurance of their ancestors. They however lack a lot of things many of us take for granted. There is no hospital and they only have first aid centre where medicines are purchased in bulk for not-so-serious ailments. There is an elementary school (up to year 6), a library cum computer lab a church and a community centre and they need help to develop the tourism potential and the quality of life of the inhabitants. Most truly, this is a Ghanaian tale of endurance.
Green Views Apartments embodies values like endurance and the will to survive all odds.