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V/R: Keta- The town of “Emancipation and real slavery”

Kumi Kasa

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Michael K. Ahiaku
Photojournalist and Writer.

Keta is a town in the southeastern part of  Ghana. It lies on the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean, near the mouth of the Volta River. It is built on a sandspit separating the Atlantic from the Keta Lagoon. Before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century, the area was part of the African kingdom of Anlo. The settlement was a port for trade in slaves, ivory, spices, and gold. The expanding Asante empire controlled much of the region by the first half of the 18th century.

A Danish fort was built on the site in 1784, and in 1850, when Keta became a British colony, the Danes sold the fort to the British. Until the harbour at Temabegan operations to the west in 1962, Keta served as an open roadstead port.

Its double waterfront, once an asset to the main occupations of fishing and fish processing, eroded rapidly. During the 20th century more than half of what had been the area of the town was washed away.

Many of Keta’s inhabitants moved south along the coast to Dzelukofe. In 1992 the Anlo-Keta Lagoon was placed on its list of Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and in 1999 work began on measures to limit further erosion and to control flooding of the coastal region.

It was settled by the Anlo Ewe, a sub-group of the Ewe people who, in the 17th century, migrated to the area from Ketu, in Benin.

Keta was an important trading post between the 14th and the late 20th centuries. The town attracted the interest of the Danish, because they felt they could establish a base here without interference from rival Europeannations. Their first initiative was to place a factory at Keta to sell alcohol.

In 1792, a war between Anloga and Keta broke out.

Faced with the threat of war between Peki and an alliance of the Ashanti and the Akwamu, the North German Missionary Society (also known as the Bremen Missionaries) moved the focus of their activities from Peki to Keta. Their missionaries, Dauble and Plessing, landed at nearby Dzelukofe on September 2, 1853.

Historically Keta was also known as Quittah and was assigned B27 as a postal mark.

From 1874 Hausa Constabulary were based at Keta, and soon there grew to be a community of Hausa traders in the town has been found at the Keta Basin. However, experts are against the exploitation because it will be on land which lead to the destruction of land and lives, as well as some sources of livelihood.

In 1784, Fort Prinzenstein, like most slave trade forts, was built by the sea’s edge. However the sea had retreated by about 600 ft by 1907. Since then Keta has been subject to sustained erosion.

The Bremen Factory and Coconut plantation, which were close to the high water mark in 1907, had been swept away by the sea by 1924. The erosion has now advanced as far as Queen Street and started to wear away the Fort.

Close to Keta is the famous town of Woe, known for the notable lighthousecalled Cape St. Paul Lighthouse on the beach that is believed to guide ships away from a mythical massive underwater mountain. This lighthouse is also thought to be the oldest in Ghana.

Keta Lagoon
The Keta Lagoon Complex is the largest Ramsar Site in Ghana.  The total area designated as the Keta Ramsar Site covers about 53,000 ha and comprises the open water of the Keta Lagoon, the surrounding flood plains and the mangrove swamps east of the Volta River. The lagoon is an extensive brackish water body situated to the east of the Volta River estuary. Although considered to be an open lagoon, it is effectively closed for most of the year. The area of the open water varies with season, but is estimated to be around 30,000 ha, stretching for about 40 km along the coast and is separated from the sea by a narrow coastal ridge.  

Freshwater inflow into the Keta Lagoon is from three main sources: run-off from the Todzie River which enters and fills the Avu lagoon in wet years and overflows into the Keta lagoon via several small tributaries; run-off from Aka and Belikpa streams which enter Keta lagoon directly from the north; and to a limited extent, from the Volta River itself. 

The lagoon itself is surrounded by numerous settlements and the surrounding flood plain consists of marsh, scrub and farm lands and substantial mangrove stands which are heavily exploited for fuel wood.  Occupational activities include lagoon fishing, which is a major source of livelihood for the people, salt winning and crop farming. 

The coastal villages, particularly Anloga, Woe and Tegbi are famous for their shallots and market gardening, and produces large quantities of onion and okra. 

The Keta lagoon is the most important wetland on the Ghana coast for waterbirds and together with Songor Lagoon constitutes the fourth most important waterbirds site on the Gulf of Guinea coast.

The site supports 76 waterbird species with an estimated total population of well over 100,000, including globally significant numbers of 21 species. The site is particularly important for waders, supporting almost one third of the estimated East Atlantic Flyway population ofTringa erythropus.  Other species which occur in large numbers at the site include Calidris ferruginea, C. minuta, Himantopus himantopus,Dendrocygna viduata, as well as several heron and egret species. The most important parts of the lagoon for waterbirds are the Fiahor, Woe, Tegbi, Adina and Afiadenyigba sections. 

Predation of the relatively small numbers of three species of marine turtles, Lepidochelys olivacea,Chelonia mydas and Dermochelys coriacea is very high along the 40km coastline of the lagoon.  The catchment is huge, human population density in the area is one of the highest in the country. Land for settlement along the coastal areas is scarce and pollution from domestic waste in some of the villages is a major cause for concern.  Sea erosion which previously threatened the existence of the communities along the coast has abated following the completion of the sea defense wall.

Keta Emancipation beach

Emancipation is back in business. A tranquil community sited close to the shores of Keta. We offer you the best in accommodation and tour experience. 
Emancipation Beach Camp is a beautiful place to away from the busy town of Keta.
Visit us for a mind blowing hospitality experience.

The space

Emancipation Beach Camp is far from the busy and noisy town and beaches. The camp is close to a couple of tour destinations and a community rich with colonial history. At the camp you get to have a feel of a whole different environment and a serene beach. We provide rich Ghanaian and Continental dishes. Close to the camp is the fort Prinzenstein which can be visited, a ramsar site where migratory birds nest, the oldest lighthouse house in the country Cape St Paul Lighthouse, a surf spot, kayaking and a seasonal whale watching experience.

Guest access

The huts are made with palm fronds and roofed with thatch. They are well ventilated and furnished with power supply also available. Toilets and Showers are close to the rooms and on Saturday nights we have bonfire and traditional drumming and dancing around the fire. The atmosphere is serene and you fall asleep with the sound waves and wake up to the scent of freshly smoked fish from a community close by.

Other things to note

They provide pick up services from the airport at a cost and we have a collection of books on Ghanaian folktale and history. We also sell and teach bead making and the brewing of some traditional non alcoholic beverages. There is enough space in our compound for games such as beach soccer and volleyball and a spot to pitch your own tent and go fishing with your hook and line.

Keta Beach Hotel

Resort is established in the early 2000s and can through series of expansion boast of 28rooms consisting of executive, twin and standard deluxe located in Keta, Volta Region of Ghana. The Hotel is situated within nice and well laid grounds with summer huts and contemporary style, capturing its original Elegance, luxury, and superb amenities. Machuca tiles form cool geometric patterns in the hallways. Hotel hardwood floors contrast modern furnishings and amenities in the dramatic suites. The Hotel lifestyle offers guests the finest sensory indulgences: soothing organic toiletries, heirloom recipes and unmatched privacy

It is set between the Atlantic, and the Keta lagoon; the Keta beach Resort offers guests a unique tropical experience.

It is located in a serene residential area of Dzelukope, the district headquarters of the Keta District in the Volta Region of Ghana, the hotel is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the famous Keta Lagoon to the north.

Sited adjacent to Keta Secondary School and a very short distance from the divisional police headquarters, security is guaranteed every hour of the day. Both the sea and the lagoon are within walking distance and the fresh coolness of the shade, provided by trees that abound on the terrace, help to make the Keta Beach resort hotel a comfortable and homely environment.

Facilities include a Conference Hall for 250 people, a ground floor terrace, and a Roof-Top Terrace restaurant, serving both African and Continental dishes. The hotel offers a range of single and twin, well furnished, self-contained rooms – including air-conditioning – all at moderate prices.

Cape St. Paul Light House

This ancient light house located in Woe, built in 1901 can be found just off Keta’s Municipalities main road. It is a vital part of Keta’s coast line.

Still functioning, it is used to direct ships at night away from what is believed to be a big submerged mountain just off the coast of Woe.

It is reportedly the oldest lighthouse in the country making climbing it an interesting if somewhat daunting adventure! Upon climbing to the top, you will be rewarded with the fantastic views of Keta’s beautiful sandy 
Cape St. Paul (Woe)1901. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); one long (1.7 s) flash every 15 s. 25 m (83 ft) octagonal pyramidal cast or wrought iron skeletal tower, upper third enclosed, with lantern and gallery.

Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. Wikimedia has two photos (one seen at right), Keta District Tourism has photos of the lighthouse.

A remarkable lighthouse with a design very rare for Africa. After being neglected for many years the lighthouse was restored and repainted in 2017.

The lighthouse is located at Woe, about 10 km (6 mi) south of Keta in easternmost Ghana. Site open; the tower can be climbed, but be careful. ARLHS GHA-004; Admiralty D3168; NGA 24924.

Attipoe bust

It is a bronze sculpture of the late Corporal Patrick Gagbale Attipoe, a victim of the February 28 Christiansburg Crossroads shooting incident in 1948, in his hometown, Kpota, Anyako in the Keta municipality of Volta Region is also one of vibrant tourist site.

Corporal Patrick Attipoe who died on 28th February ,1948 was a Ghanaian ex-serviceman and veteran of World War II. He was one of the three veterans shot dead by Major Imray[1] while on their way to present a petition to Sir Gerald Creasy who was Governor of Gold Coast .

History has it that before noon on Saturday, February 28, 1948, a number of unarmed Ex-servicemen who had fought for Great Britain, her allies, in the World War II were marching to the Osu Castle to present a petition to the Governor, Sir Gerald Creasy.

The war veterans were frustrated by the failure of the colonial administration to fulfil promises made to them before the war – to better their standard of living.

A contingent of armed police men, led by British Police Superintendent Collins Imray, intercepted them at the crossroads and ordered them to disperse.

In defiance of the order, the ex-service men marched on to accomplish their mission. Superintendent Imray gave an order to the police to open fire on them, killing the three ex-servicemen in the process.

The news about the death of the gallant Ex-servicemen spread rapidly, leading to a situation where law and order broke down in Accra and other parts of the country.

This encouraged anti-colonial movements to press the British government to institute a committee to investigate the killings and general.

The construction of the Nationalism Park was sponsored by the Royal Duklui Attipoe Family to preserve the memory of their son Cpl Attipoe.

Underneath the sculpture was the inscription: “In memory of Corporal Patrick Gagbale Attipoe was the first of three gallant ex-servicemen who lost their lives at the 28th February, 1948 Christianborg Crossing Shooting Incident, a Pivotal moment in Ghana’s march to Independence. May this monument be a testament to your bravery and that of your comrades Sergeant Adjetey and Private Odartey Lamptey, Rest in Peace”.

The presence of Cpl Attipoe’s bust and a whole park was built in his memory to serve as an inspiration to the current generation and generations yet unborn that it is worthwhile dying just a cause in national interest.

The edifice is one that can endanger the youth to be patriotic with the hope that their contributions to the development of their traditional area, the region and country at large would not be in vain.

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