Akyem-Ntrubo trail: discovering my new world

Akyem-Ntrubo trail: discovering my new world

Views: 707 Ishmael Junourgh, Nkwanta South,Sept 9, 2019, Mon, 6:30am After 30 minutes of biking, we had to push the motor for the rest of the journey ...

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Ishmael Junourgh, Nkwanta South,Sept 9, 2019, Mon, 6:30am

After 30 minutes of biking, we had to push the motor for the rest of the journey and we cursed it for that; next time we are going to walk rather. What about the route? It had reduced into only a trail, and it keeps separating you from the rest of the world as it meanders up-and-down through the crowded mountains with gullies and full streams. Climbing the mountains, and descending them; you cannot tell which is horrendous. No lesser of the two evils.

There are no human settlements along the trail and seldom do you meet a human being on the path. Only the cry of birds keeps you company. Half-way, I thought had been lured into a different world to be murdered as the slippery trail continued to separate me from the world, and my two guides decided to speak in only adele,  a dialect I had never heard in my life. But what could I do then, I had reached the “island of no return,” and there is no network to make a phone call either.

The trek could be a test of faith for you too because recently when I returned there with an experienced hiker-photographer, he shed tears at a point, and asked for forgiveness from his beautiful daughter he had left home alone. It is not a joke. That feeling when you follow like a lamb to the slaughter. After three hours of fatigue, there lies the community—Akyem-Ntrubo; my new world discovery as the first journalist to have explored the area for stories, and indeed the natives bear witness with me. I am planning to erect a signpost in the name of the Bridge news for this discovery.

It all started on May 30, 2019. I had arrived at the Nkwanta South, the capital of the Municipality in the night (1:30 am) for community development stories. I, therefore, thought it wise to while away time at the lorry-station till daybreak completely to avoid double charge at a guest house the next morning, already my budget for the trip was in distress.

There I met an all-night wayside-tea-seller whose sitting-bench I had occupied and had asked him to charge my phone battery too.

He asked me to at least introduce myself. Sure, he was right, one, for fear of armed robbery at that time of the night, and two, the township had been educated about the infiltration of a terrorist because the area shares a border with the Republic of Togo, a sister country to Burkina Faso which was then experiencing incidence of the killers.

“‘I am a journalist with the Bridge news. It is a community development platform, and this is part of my nationwide tour for stories. In each district, I visit at least one deprived community, and I will do the same here too by tomorrow.”

I knew I must be clear with the guy before he took me for either a suspected armed robber or a suspected terrorist.

“As for here we have more of such communities,” said, the tea-seller, and quickly in that night he called on phone to inform a friend about me, and he brought along a letter. It was from the youth of Akyem-Ntrubo petitioning the Nkwanta South Municipal Assembly for development of the community.

“Wow, I will like to be there tomorrow.” I became giddy at once.

The next morning, on May 31, 2019, John was at the E.P. Guest house knocking on my door. I was happy to realise he was enthusiastic about the trip, and off in a taxi we were on our way to Brewaniase-Ntrubo, from there we hired an Okada, a commercial motorbike to the next community known as Pusupu-Ntrubo, and at 1: 58pm, we had hit the trail to Akyem Ntrubo—discovering my new world.

But, it is 21 century now, it is the era of unprecedented civilization, and it is the period of technology. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind. Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals.

Aside, Ghana is claiming to have attained middle-income status.

Yet, the story of Akyem-Ntrubo is still a pathetic one. The village is a typical pre-colonial community without a single amenity ever from either a government or a non-governmental organization. (NGO)

The people travel on foot along trails, their source of drinking water are streams, their medication is herbs, they depend on farming, hunting, and gathering of spices from the forest, and there is virtually nothing like school there.

Also, people still practice barter trade to some extent. Recently the community asked a construction company known as Jacincas Investment Ltd based in Jasikan in the Oti Region to opened up their trail into a feeder road and to harvest their timber in return for his investment, but as it is now, the route is far from completion yet the company has already depleted part of the forest claiming he had so far invested over 9 billion Cedis.

This sparked a confrontation between the two, and when asked the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Geoffrey Kini said he had visited the people and had realized both parties had not signed a document to the effect of the agreement—simply they had done barter trade.

I gasped for breathing like a dog that had chased a prey, drenched in sweat as if beaten by rain carrying only my hiking bag on the trail. In fact, you will count every step you make either going to the community or leaving it because you feel the weight exerted by each step you make; similarly, the women who do most of the goods-carrying to and fro the community are crying of fatigue and sickness as a result, and they are complaining of fast aging.

When interviewed, most of the women said when they were to go to market at either of their two neighboring communities— Pusupu or Tutukpene—they usually spent the previous night sleepless and worried about how to carry their produce on their heads with some carrying babies also.

Most of these women give birth at home without the assistance of a midwife. During complications, the suffering woman is being carried in an improvised head-carrier for hours on the deadly trail to the CHPS Compound for the service of a midwife either at Tutukpene or Pusupu.

It is usually a bitter experience for the entire community as they carry the dying woman in turns of four each session until they reach the facility, this ordeal usually happens in the night, and it is worse during a rainy night.

It is not only women in labor who are being carried like that, but anyone at all in the village whose health condition was critical for the natives is equally being carried in a similar way to the CHPS Compound.

Notwithstanding, they manage their health with herbal medicines. Like the ancient being, the natives are versed in herbs. The forest’s bitter-cola, quinine plant, back of trees, and many spices are sources of herbal medicines to the people.

I remembered how my grandmother used to treat me when I complained of either headache or appetite loss with hot and black soap which she used to prepare herself. She held me down with force on my arms and on my knees, used her left hand to open my anus and with the right hand, she pushed in some of the soap and threw in the hot water until I passed out painfully as it burns. It used to work for me, I used to get well after days of the ordeal, but this was over 20 years ago, yet it is still practiced at the community.

The village is surrounded by streams which serve as their source of drinking water, but with open defecation still in the community, cleanliness of the water is highly questionable. Some of them complained that at times they experience stomachache and diarrhea, and they often took quinine-plant  to subside the upset because there is no a single pharmacy in the village, except an unlicensed small kiosk which you can count the codeine tablets in there.

The Akyem-Ntrubo M/A Primary school was initiated by the community. It comprises a pavilion for the kindergarten and a three-unit classroom built with mud. The floors of the classrooms are not cemented; the school has no furniture for the pupils, and currently, there is no even a single attendance for the kindergarten. There is only one teacher, and he has less than two years to go on retirement. The school is teetering to a collapse.

There are 14 Ntrubo communities and more than half of them are dotted in the crowded mountains, they are; Akyem, Pusupu, Bontibor, Brewaniase, Ahondwo, Damabin, Obandaa, Salifu, Ando, Abrubruwaa, Fakyenekor, Kpena, Kankyekura, Obaakoba.

One may think it is wise then for the community to relocate to a neighboring village with some basic amenities already. But, the people said they were not moving from their ancestral land, endowed with more natural resources namely; gold, timber, cocoa, paint-rocks, streams, bitter-cola, spices, plastering sand, gravel, wildlife, bird-sanctuary, plantain, cocoa-yam, fruits, and waterfalls.

According to the Ntrubo ethnic group, their ancestors migrated from somewhere in Kenya to Nigeria, and later to Togo, and eventually to their present settlement in Ghana.

It is obvious then that relocation is not the answer, and they are right, instead, the Government must construct a road, extend electricity, provide a CHPs compound, improve education, and supply adequate portable water to Akyem-Ntrubo.