Between Sand and Water

Photography Exhibition/Installation by Ofoe Amegavie.

September, 2019. Ada, Ghana.

Ada, a serene town on the southeastern coast (Dangme East District) of Ghana, along where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean, is popular for its palm-lined beaches and estuary islands. Most Ghanaians in the capital, Accra and tourists prefer Ada as the perfect holiday location. Also along the sightly Ada coast, lie a host of small fishing villages.

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Ada is also my hometown, and despite the fact that my siblings and I try to visit at least once every year, I still feel very much an uncanny disconnect from the land of my ancestors.

Even though I had caught some glimpses of the project before-hand, I was equally excited and curious travelling all the way to go see this exhibition by my old time friend and collaborator Ofoe Amegavie.

Ofoe’s work as a documentary photographer seeks to capture and expose the intricacies in Ghanaian culture and heritage.

Titled “Between Sand and Water”, this one-of-a-kind photo installation boldly sets out to document the unique situation of the inhabitants of two small villages along the Ada coast – the people of Azizanya and Kewuno – who are currently facing an uncertain future.

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On one end, the changing climate situation has resulted in the washing away of parts of the communities into the sea. For years, these areas together with some neighbouring communities, have experienced a gradual erosion of their buildings, history and to an extent their sense of self.

On the other end, some of these locals are facing ejection from their homes due to a looming corporate threat. Trasacco Estates Development Company, a real estate developer based in Ghana, has earmarked the development of a private residence project known as Ada Turtle Bay. The project will include 40 private villas and a Hilton Resort and Spa. According to the company, the project intends to boost tourism and employment in the region. At the same time, quite a number of families will be displaced and discussions of compensation and re-settlement are ongoing.

Ofoe uniquely captures the expressions and the plight of this vulnerable group through his thought-provoking photographs of the locals in their different everyday situations.

These photographs are also cleverly presented using installations comprising flags draped on coconut trees, on canvases that cover fisherfolk sheds and as posters on community walls and even on a broken-down truck in the community.

Launched at the occasion of the Asafotu Fiam festival last August, this photo installation is “ongoing until the wind stops blowing”.

Alongside drawing peoples’ attention to the predicament of the locals, Ofoe aims to encourage healthy community conversations  and resolutions to these kinds of issues.

What stood out for me was the general simplicity of the project and the moods of the photographed.

All in all, I left Ada with a renewed sense of identity vowing to come back more often than I usually do.

More on Ofoe’s project here.

Side Bar:

While exploring the Ada beaches with Ofoe, we came across quite a startling sight.

On the opposite side of the pretty beaches, closer to the estuary, were loads on loads of plastics waste. A shocking and saddening view I must say. Clearly, the beach sand was losing the battle to plastics.

It turns out these plastics are also coming from other parts of the country, and makes a strong case for the call to ban plastics or have an in-depth re-evaluation of policies around this issue. There also needs to be a nation-wide encouragement of beach clean-up exercises as part of the sanitation day activities.

In that light, here’s a humble call for us all to be more conscious of how we handle plastics and how much plastic waste we dispose off in our day to day lives.

What’s between sand and water? The people? The companies? The plastics?

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