I like to travel over rivers and see the span of water dotted with boats, barges and people swimming or fishing.  My first experience was travelling on the ferry over the lower Volta River in southern Volta Region of Ghana.  I was probably about five years of age.  I remember the water splashing over my feet and my shoes as we walked onto the platform that led into the ferry.  This was before The Sogakope Bridge was built, after that it all got very easy  because Dad could drive us to see my grandparents without me getting my feet wet.  There was a toll to pay though, in order to keep the bridge maintained.

The other bridge I became familiar with is The Adomi Bridge, this is a suspension bridge situated nearer the middle of this river, which run from the north of the country to the south and enters the Atlantic Ocean. The Adomi Bridge is closer to The Akosombo Dam, the latter then the main source of hydro-electricity for the country.  It was the one used when I had to cross the river to and from school.  This area had the best smoked oysters ever and there were disappointed faces if I came home without a parcel of these choice delicacy.

For years I passed by the towns and villages and the children who were playing stopped to wave to us, as children do.  We bought earthenware, fruits like oranges, pawpaw, avocado, guava and pineapple and a variety of  vegetables such as tomatoes, garden eggs, okro, cabbage, peppers and leafy greens from farmers and traders. We saw families sitting by their open fires cooking or socialising but they were all just faces like we were to them.

It wasn’t until one of my holiday trips from London, that I came close to the people who lived by the river and their livelihood depended on it, by farming near the river, fishing in the water and using the fine clay dug at the riverbank to make nice earthen ware.  Our driver who made that journey frequently was acquainted with them and when my daughter and I caught a glimpse of water through a gap in the houses, we were astonished how close they lived to the river. Our driver asked us if we would like to see the river close up.  Of course we both jumped at the chance.  He stopped the car and we went towards the houses.  We formally greeted a lady he knew and he asked permission for us to see the river. The lady and the rest of the householders were so friendly and happy.

Wow! we couldn’t believe the beauty of the environment they lived in.  Not far from them was a riverside Guesthouse. What was really fantastic was that with my naked eyes I saw an oxbow, the U-shaped body of water, something I had read about and only seen in books and on television.  Here it was right in front of me.  Our impromptu hosts were surprised we were leaving so soon.  We promised to come back. I am sure we will one day.  For now I’m happy to be seeing The Thames whenever I travel into London.




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