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November 9, 2010

Go straight …. straight

Lake Bosumtwi
Lake Bosumtwi

I hear it is a beautiful place: a crater lake and Ghana’s largest natural lake. We managed to glimpse Lake Bosumtwi in between the trees as we wandered around the back roads of the Ashanti Region. It was an uncomfortable yet enjoyable drive through the bush. At one point we were driving on a track in the middle of a cane field. Cane plant leaves swept both sides of the car. My feelings were torn; I was nervous about going further and further away from civilization yet I felt at home in the midst of the sugar cane.

The really annoying part of the ride was not the bad road or the back ache that I had the next day. It was everyone’s absolute refusal to admit that they did not know the way to the lake. Directions were given confidently, politely and the lake was always a “small” distance away. We were always going in the right direction. I mean, it would be rude of someone to suggest that we had made a mistake and were going the wrong way! No, “Go straight, straight”, was always the advice. And technically the advice was sound. We were going in the direction of the lake, just not on a road that would take us to the lake’s edge. As we turned back and retraced our bumpy steps to the main road I had a few choice words (in my head of course) as we passed the people who had shown us the way on this wild goose chase.

About the lake: Lake Bosumtwi is the largest natural lake in Ghana. It is situated within an ancient meteorite impact crater and covers an area of about 47 square kilometers and is 86 meters deep. It lies in a deep circular crater surrounded by steep hills up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) high covered by lush tropical rainforest. There are about 30 villages near the lake, with a combined population of about 70,000 people. The lake supports much of this population through tourism, fishing and it is also a source of potable water.

For the Ashanti people, this large crater lake is sacred. After death, the soul of an Ashanti is believed to go to Lake Bosumtwi to bid farewell to the god Twi (say Tree) before entering the afterlife. It is forbidden to put metal of any form into the lake, and anyone who dares to do so is believed to incur the wrathful curse of the gods.

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