Return to Winneba


Leaving Bill at Kakum forest, I went on with Solomon to Winneba, where he dropped me off at the Lagoon Lodge, a hotel recommended to me by some backpackers at Mole. The hotel did not exist when I lived in Winneba in the 60s, and the staff were greatly excited when I showed them a print of the photograph below, which I had taken then. The hotel had been built on the greenery in the foreground!

The photograph of the fisherma, Alfred Nartey, produced news which I was half expecting - the receptionist recognised him and told me that he had died ten years ago. She said that he and his family had lived in her grandmother's house.


Solomon makes sure that his goats are comfortable before we set off for Winneba.


View across the lagoon, taken ~1969. Site of Lagoon Lodge in foreground.


Main street in 1969


Main street in 2004


I wandered around town with a selection of 60s photographs, trying to identify where the photographs had been taken, and taking new ones from the same spot. Fascinating to compare the above photographs, with 35 years between them.


Congregation entering the Methodist chapel


The Winneba seafront on a Sunday


Fish market on Winneba's waterfront


As a young man in the 60s, I was introduced to Alfred Nartey (yellow sweater and big smile) by a Ghanaian member of staff at my school. I frequently went out fishing with him and his crew in their dugout canoe, leaving the town beach through the surf in the darkness just before dawn, returning in the afternoon to hand over our catch to the market women.

Although they spoke little English, we communicated well and I was grateful for their friendship. This photograph was taken at sea in 1969.



Winneba fishermen

Now as I walked through the fishing quarter, I showed the photograph to people, asking if they knew his family. I was having no success until a fisherman took the photo from me and took it over to an older man striding along the waterfront. He looked at it and immediately gesticulated to me to follow him.


Part of the crowd examining the photographs

Alfred's two sons

We arrived at a house where the man showed the photograph to some young people, and a crowd quickly gathered, becoming very excited as the story was explained and the photographs passed around. I was told that Alfred had had two sons, and they were being sent for.

Eventually, they arrived and I was introduced to them, and there were hugs and handshakes all round. Then an older man was introduced to me who claimed to recognise me - he had been a member of Alfred's crew, and remembered my daughters.


Swimming pool we used every afternoon


Winneba Secondary School staffroom


Swedru market


Swedru market butchers


Swedru is a town 12 miles inland from Winneba. I went there to buy bead necklaces for my grandchildren but we used to go to Swedru market to buy meat. If we got to the butchers before 6 am, we could buy the best beef steaks at the same price as the rest of the meat.

I looked in at the butchers to see how it had changed, to find that it had not - it was exactly as I remembered it.


Sea-going canoe on lagoon beach


Ewe village


A long neck of sand, narrow in places, separated the Muni lagoon from the sea, and among the palm trees was an Ewe village. The villagers were fishing people who came originally from the Volta region, but the village was already there in the 60s. The only differences I could see were a few small concrete structures.

The Ewe people fished using large seine nets. A canoe would lay the net in the sea in the shape opf a big U, then teams of men on each end would haul the net in, trapping the fish in the central bag.


Pied crow ignores sign


Fisherman working in Muni lagoon


The Muni lagoon lay behind the school, and I walked around it to refresh old memories. In one place, embankments had been dug, in rather haphazard fashion, and proclaimed to be a "salt industry". However, work had come to a halt because of "a land dispute".

The lagoon contained more species of birds than I remembered, including blackwinged stilts, senegal kingfishers, and various herons. The sun set as I walked back in the sudden darkness, feeling both at ease and at home, and also that strange gap of 35 years.




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