Location

Ghana

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the belly of West Africa, just a few degrees north of the equator. The name Ghana literally translates to “chiefs’ land.”  In 1957, through the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah, it was the first African country to gain independence from the British. Ghana is comprised of ten different regions and six main ethnic groups, totaling almost 20 million people. Ghanaians are renowned across the globe for their warm, hospitable nature, and rich cultural heritage.

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Cape Three Points, home of Trinity Yard School

Located in the Western Ahanta Region, Cape Three Points is situated on the southernmost point of the country. It is comprised of a small fishing village and beaches, rocky points, and vistas along the coastline that are some of the most beautiful and pristine in all of West Africa. The shores are nesting grounds to many species of sea turtles, migrating humpback whales and dolphins, while the trees along the beach are home to raucous hornbills and many other species of colorful birds. Surrounded by the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve to the north, steep coastal hills to the west, and a tidal river to the east, the village remains untouched by the development evident in many other parts of Ghana.

Nzema people, most of whom are fishermen and farmers, inhabit the village of Cape Three Points. Nestled in the picturesque rolling hills and fertile farmland of three rocky points jutting out to the sea, the village consists of mud and concrete dwellings. It has very limited sanitation and suffers from erosion that worsens year after year.

Life in Cape Three Points

On their daily trips out to sea, the men of the village navigate either beautiful wooden boats fitted with large nets and outboard motors or smaller hand-paddled dugout canoes. A beach of waiting women welcome the fishermen home each afternoon who then take the catch to fry, smoke, dry, or resell. At night, the western beach is line with boats resting in the sand along with the goats, sheep, and the many villagers who take advantage of the cool sea breezes. At first light, the cycle recommences; the fishermen push their boats into the surf and cast their nets and lines into the Gulf of Guinea.

The single main source of potable water in the village is a hand-pumped well that was installed by the non-profit organization World Vision. Mornings and evenings, most of the villagers take their aluminum basins to the well to collect water for cooking and drinking. Even the smallest children balance basins of water on their heads, carefully stepping along the rocky paths back to their outdoor kitchens. Food is cooked over open fires of both wood and charcoal, and is served in dishes shared by two or more people who follow the traditional method of eating with only the right hand, without utensils. It is normal for there to be only one meal a day, so children who are hungry often make traps for crabs and search for snails and clams in the low tides to supplement their diets.

Electricity didn’t arrive in the village until 2014, yet many families still use kerosene lamps for cooking and bathing after dark. A solar-powered lighthouse, rebuilt by the British in 1920s, remains the only real tourist attraction to the few travelers who make it down the long road to the village. Although Cape Three Points is part of the Heritage Trail that connects historic landmarks in the area, few travelers find their way here. The coastal road along from the east, which would logically connect Cape Three Points to Akwidaa, is blocked by a tidal river which cars cannot cross, making that route impractical. Thus, the road from Agona to Cape Three Points travels inland through a number of villages located on the southern border of the forest. The conditions along the road are extremely rough and, during the rainy season, it can become impassable following heavy storms.

 

Environmental Concerns

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Three kilometers to the north of the village is the forest reserve, the last protected, primary coastal forest in Ghana. It is sanctuary to many endangered species of birds, monkeys, and butterflies. The 51,102-square-kilometer forest, declared a reserve in 1949, is abundant in many varieties of trees and medicinal plants, with collections dating back to 1780. Though the forest has endured some illegal timber harvesting and gold mining, it remains fairly well protected.

Cape Three Points has recently been the focus of Ghanaian attention due to the 2007 discovery of offshore oil. Rumors have circulated that the village will be moved a few hundred yards back from the beach and rebuilt with cement housing, electricity, and a new road for the villagers. The current village location would be bulldozed and turned into barracks for oil workers, and the beach that is now home to all the fishing boats would be used for the workers’ marine transportation to and from the oil platform. Though there is yet to be clear evidence that this will happen, the discovery of offshore oil adds to the need for a vocational-based school for the youth in the area to help them exploit and create a more sustainable future.