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VIDEO: The community using ancient tradition to conserve a river
AGENCY-STYLE VIDEO EDIT:
How a rural community in a fast-urbanising region along the west African Tano River is using traditional knowledge handed down over generations to protect the river, its vegetation and its fish stock.
STORY NAME: THE COMMUNITY USING ANCIENT TRADITION TO CONSERVE A RIVER
LOCATION: TANOSO, GHANA
DATE SHOT: 8/08/22
SOUND: NATURAL SOUND WITH ENGLISH AND AKAN SPEECH
SOURCE: BIRD STORY AGENCY
ASPECT RATIO: 16.9
ORIGINAL FRAME RATE: 24 fps (progressive).
INTRO: How a rural community in a fast-urbanising region along the west African Tano River is using traditional knowledge handed down over generations to protect the river, its vegetation and its fish stock.
1. LIVESTOCK DRINKING FROM THE DAM
2. VARIOUS OF RIVER TANO
3. CARS DRIVING ACROSS THE RIVER
4. VARIOUS OF THE RIVER
5. VARIOUS OF TANOSO TOWN
6. TANOSO RESIDENTS FETCHING WATER FROM THE RIVER
7. (SOUNDBITE) (English speech) AUGUSTINE ADUSAH OFORI, COMMUNITY TEACHER, SAYING:
"Tano river is very helpful to the people of this community, domestically we use it for washing, cooking, drinking and so many other uses. Potters also use it in their works and some also use it for irrigation purposes”.
8. VARIOUS OF CLAY PROCESSING
9. CLAY POTS ON DISPLAY
10. (SOUNDBYTE) (English speech) AUGUSTINE ADUSAH OFORI, COMMUNITY TEACHER, SAYING:
"There are so many traditions that the people of this community have used to protect this river. One, they don’t fish in it. When you go to other places, they fish in it but here we don’t. You can’t wash in it and again we don’t step in this river with your footwear”.
11. VARIOUS OF RIVER TANO
12. (SOUNDBITE) (Akan speech) JOSEPH CHRISTOPHER YEBOAH, A POTTER, SAYING:
“The benefit the River Tano has brought to us is that we are able to get clay at the bank of the river for our pottery works. It helps in the supply of raw water to the water works at Abesim.
13. VARIOUS OF CLAY PROCESSING
14. MORE CLAY POTS ON DISPLAY
15. PRIEST NANA OSEI DRINKING FROM THE RIVER
16. (SOUNDBITE) (Akan speech) NANA OSEI KWADWO, PRIEST TO RIVER TANO COMMUNITY, SAYING:
“The history of not eating fish from the river has been with us for years after it was bequeathed to us by our forefathers. We believe the fishes are our ancestors that is why we do not eat them”.
17. VARIOUS OF FISH IN THE RIVER
18. VARIOUS OF TANOSO TOWN ACTIVITIES
19. (SOUNDBITE) (Akan speech) JANET AKAABI, LOCAL FASHION DESIGNER, SAYING:
“What I do as an individual to protect the river is that I do not put refuse at the banks of the river. Apart from this, I also do not put soapy water into the river after washing”.
20. VARIOUS OF THE RIVER
21. RESIDENT FETCHING WATER FROM THE RIVER
22. VARIOUS OF TANOSO TOWN
23. LIVESTOCK LEAVING THE RIVER
Through the heart of the Tano North Municipality in Ghana's Ahafo region, runs a river that has, for as long as anyone can remember, been the life-blood of the community. A key bridge in the area also connects two regions, Bono and Ahafo, separated by the flowing waters.
Running over 400 kilometres from its head in Techiman, the capital town of Bono East Region to the Ehy and Tendo lagoons in Ghana, the Tano River finally enters the Atlantic Ocean via the Aby Lagoon in Ivory Coast.
Besides bequeathing the Tanoso community its name, the river is a treasured heritage and source of livelihood for many on its path to the ocean. And for that reason, it is carefully conserved by the community around it.
The origins of the edicts that prescribe how the life-sustaining waters of the river are to be protected and sustained are today lost on the Tanoso community that continues to protect it with a spiritual zeal. But that is of no consequence to the area's high priest, Nana Osei Kwadwo. The 70-year-old is the head of the Tanoso Traditional Counci,l comprising chiefs and queen mothers.
According to Kwadwo, tradition outlaws the fishing and eating of fish from River Tano. And those who flout rule, which applies to both locals and strangers, face severely punishment.
“Anyone who flouts the tradition by fishing in the river and also engaging in activities that may pollute the river, they are fined. The fine may differ depending on the gravity of the offence. Some are charged to slaughter sheep to pacify the river,” he said.
“This tradition which has been with us for years is achieving its purpose because we have been able to protect the river and the fish stock in it because people are aware what will happen to them when they flout the tradition.”
The Tanoso community has traditionally engaged in a booming pottery business along the river, along with farming. The importance of a regular, learn water supply for both activities may have much to do with how the community has to protected its “sacred heritage”.
Every small detail of the river is carefully observed. Even when a fish dies naturally, rites are performed by a priest who oversees the river before the fish is buried. This has seen the survival of the river and fish for generations.
The Tanoso credit the river and its protected environs, for their relatively stable ecosystem, at a time when many other communities are dealing with the fallout of environmental abuse, including dying rivers, disappearing fauna and flora, flooding and erratic weather patterns
Kwadwo, who has been a priest for the river for almost two decades, said the traditional council has over the years ensured the planting of trees such as indigenous acacias along the banks of the river, to protect it.
While the pressures of development have increased, the community has not been averse to using modern communications methods to help keep the river pristine. Kwadwo explained that the council uses media channels such as radio to educate the people maintain the tradition.
Despite that, the impact of upstream deforestation is evident in the brownish water during the rainy season.
For years the river has served as a major source of drinking water for thousands of people who live along the river in four regions of Ghana - Bono, Bono East, Ahafo and Western.
Illegal miners who have occasionally invaded the area have been flushed out by joint police and military patrols.
Augustine Adusah, a teacher at the Tanoso Primary School, believes the traditions associated with the river are likely to be maintained into the future. He believes other communities across Ghana can emulate the example of the Tanoso community and protect other key waterways in much the same way.
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