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Antelope Lake Goddess In Kumasi, Ghana

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ANTELOPE LAKE

Trying to satisfy my curiosity about stories surrounding Lake Bosomtwe, I took a trip to Banso and Appau. These are just two, of towns surrounding the Lake.

My journey started from Kumasi, Journeying through Bekwai to Muruntuo. I set on foot to these sacred ancient towns called Banso and Appau, which happens to be some of the ancient towns surrounding river banks.

 

Motorist mostly does not ply this road due to the bad nature of it. It rises in height over what seems to be the rim around the lake and down to the lake and ending at the first village Banso.
It is possible to take boat rides on the lake, swim, and hike around.

Descending from the hills on foot for about 25 minutes of walk, one could see the beautiful scenery of Lake Bosomtwe as descending down the hills. It is fresh water body stocked mainly with tropical Tilapia and is the largest natural lake in West Africa.

During the raining season, three main water bodies serve as sources that feed Lake Bosomtwe. These rivers are; Ebor, lying between the town of Abono and Adwarfu; Abriwa, locate between Banwuso and Appau and the third, called Kantakyi, is located between Agyaman and Bruokwa.

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Lake Bosomtwe is the largest natural freshwater body in Ghana and is filled mainly by rainwater. The formation of the lake is not very clear, but several stories have and continued to be told about how it was discovered. Many geologist and researchers from all over the world have visited the lake, all in an effort to discover exactly how it was formed. This beautiful natural lake is surrounded by green vegetation and mountains.

The Lake’s surrounding which looks like a crater (a large bowl-shaped cavity in the ground or on a celestial Object, typically one caused by an explosion or the impact of a meteorite.) The lake is around 25sq km, and up to 90m deep.

My interaction with some elders in the community revealed that the lake is seen as a very sacred place to the Ashanti people who live in the area. It was considered a taboo in the past to use a regular dugout canoe or any form of metal or iron to touch the surface of the lake, because of this, a very different type of boat was and is still being used by the local fishermen on the lake.

 

Thus a large plank of wood that they sit on top of and use their hands or plates in their hands to propel themselves. However, there are a couple of modern boats that traverse the lake these days.

The level of the lake continues to rise, and because of this the villages around have had to keep moving up the hillside. one will notice that the names of the villages have a number suffixes which indicates how many versions of the village there has been. There is also the obvious sight of tree trunks standing out of the water.

Lake Bosomtwe now has 23 villages that surround it, though it used to be 30 villages. This is because the lake was then very small. Performing rituals during the intense rainfall season in the area continue always. Each village within the environs of the lake has its own shrine or fetish grove. Some of the people are converted Christians even though many continue to seek traditional help in bad times or against diseases.

Various communities around the lake are very welcoming and this makes for an interesting hiking experience around the shores of the lake, or up the sacred areas around the lake.
The name ”Bosomtwe” means (Antelope God) it is said that the lake was discovered by a hunter who was chasing an antelope that disappeared into the lake.

Legends has it that in 1648 an Ashanti hunter named Akora Bompe, and his dog, Daakyi(future) native of Kokofu Asaaman, strayed into this thick Virgin forest.

Bompe and his dog started their secret hunting spree in this forest on a sacred day called Akwasiedae (40th day on the Ashanti traditional calendar which falls on Sunday, during this day a ritual is performed by the natives and is a sacred day as well).

Traditionally, on such days, nobody goes out for hunting expedition, or goes farming but attends this great festival to honour the gods of the land. Bompe and his Daakyi decided otherwise and on that fateful day, Akwasidae, they went hunting and got lost.

They both walked for several hours and still couldn’t find their way back home. Daakyi the dog was sniffing around trying to help find the way when they both stumbled upon an antelope locally called (Otwi )which Bompe gladly shot. The distance at which the antelope was shot was very close. Bompe did not understand why the antelope was still on its feet and still running.

So he and Daakyi decided to chase the injured antelope through the rainforest by tracing its dripping blood. When they finally found the antelope, it was lying by a small pond which was not up to the kneel level. There were lots of tilapia fish in the water.

Daakyi took advantage to feast on the dead tilapia whiles Bompe watched in astonishment. Bompe waited to see if Daakyi would die after eating the fish but it did not. This encouraged Bompe who ventured closer to the water. Suddenly, the antelope disappeared in the small pond, by submerging itself in as it saw Bompe get closer. It was as if this body of water wanted to save the animal’s life. The hunter never got the antelope. Bompe went back and narrated his story to the Chief of the town.

Knowing that he was guilty of working on Akwasidae, Bompe twisted the story to suggest that since the antelope was shot and jumped into that shallow pond and disappeared, the antelope must have been a water god. The hunter’s adventure gave discovery to the Lake Bosomtwe. He later moved to settled close to the water and started his fishing expedition. This place he named “Bosomtwe”, meaning “god antelope”.

READ ALSO: Lake Bosomtwe

This story suggests that at that time the lake level was very low. The large dead trees standing ashore in the lake are also evidence of this, for they are over 300 years old.

The width of the Lake Bosomtwe is 25sq kilometres and up to 90mm deep crater wall up 600m and covering an area of 40sq kilometres and 8.6 kilometres across its widest and at narrowest length, the centre depth is 234 feet. In the entire lifespan of Lake Bosomtwe, only two people successfully swam across the lake in 4 and a half hour. Emelda from Britain and the other one crossed in 2016.

There are about 23 villages near the lake, with a combined population of about 70,000 people.

Anytime you want to go on a safari or wandering where to go for hiking and also trying to use a different path to Lake Bosomtwe for a cool relaxation the fun of it as well as history and photoshoot, just contact or send a mail to Detravelingfotografa@gmail.comor WhatsApp number +233244411375

Credit: detravelingfotografa

 

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