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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Columnist: Adorsu-Djentuh, Franklin Yayra

My Journey To Wli Todzi

I first heard of Wli Todzi in the news and later in a documentary by some students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism on Joy FM, a local radio station. The location and accesses route to the village aroused my curiosity and interest. The village appeared in the news for humanitarian reasons. There have been calls and appeals for government and non-governmental organisations alike to come to the aid of Wli Todzi as they are very isolated and cut off from the rest of the country with non-existent facilities. There is no motorable access route from Ghana to the village, due to the geographically hard to reach nature of the area. Wli Todzi falls under the local administration of Hohoe Municipality but Government’s presence is very limited there.
Wli Todzi is a farming community located at the south-eastern part of Ghana. The town shares a common border with the republic of Togo on the Agumatsa range. History has it that about 400 years ago, Wli Todzi's founders climbed to the peak of Agumatsa Mountain to settle. They were attracted by the fertility of the land and its abundance of plentiful game, clean water, and natural beauty. Wli Todzi is among the highest place in Ghana with an altitude of about 2,600 feet above sea level.
As a social worker heading an NGO in basic education, I have decided to explore the possibility of extending help to the people of Wli Todzi through my NGO. On the 4th day of March 2014 I together with a colleague Raymond Dzantor from Icon of Hope International decided to call on the people of Wli Todzi to learn at first hand the challenges and the stories we heard in the media about Wli Todzi.
We set out on a journey as early as 6:00am from our base at Hohoe to Wli Township the last motorable point to Wli Todzi. We were informed about another route through Tsebi in the same vicinity but that seem a bit far away from us. We made a brief stop at the tourist reception of the Wli waterfalls to buy water and some drinks for our journey. As first timers we had no ideas how the journey would be like. We ask for directions and set out for the long walk all by ourselves. We walked about three (3) kilometres to the foot of the mountain through a forest pathway. It took us exactly an hour to reach the mountain foot. Man was really exhausted at this point but that actually was the easiest part of the journey while the onerous task of hiking lied ahead of us.
We encountered a lot of lumbering activities in the forest. There were indiscriminate felling of tress without any replacements with blatant disregard for ecology conservation principles. As we go, we could hear the sound of the activities of chain saw operators all over the forest. One disheartening scene we came across was the lumbering of mongo trees for 2x4, what we call Wawa board. This time it is “mongo board” but will obviously be presented to unsuspecting buyers as Wawa, Odum or Mahogany. Am not sure if the Forestry commission is really aware of these illegal activities of chainsaw operators at the Agumatsa range.
We began to hike the mountain in earnest. As we climb higher the slop get steeper. The road was tortuous meandering through the rugged rocky tracks. At a point we have to crawl like babies on our wobbling legs. We began to lose water rapidly through showers of sweat as we climbed, but we will reached out for water in our bags from time to time to keep us hydrated and going. There was a particular part of the rock that runs vertically up and was a bit dangerous to climb, so a rod made of iron was fixed as a lynchpin from one end to the other to anchor pedestrian to the top. We were told that place was called “etokplevi” meaning a hill on a mountain. The hill was cut through to create a way. I watched on TV how pregnant women and the sick were carried on stretchers through that narrow and dangerous loop to Hospital at Hohoe. We met people on our way up coming down from the village. These people seem to have it very easy on their journey because this has been their way of life since they were born.
We gradually made it to the top of the mountain after all the hustling and bustling. Whiles I was expecting to immediately bump in to the village upon our arrival on the cliff of the mountain, I have the rude shock of treading for about a kilometre to reach the village. Finally we got there at exactly 10 am after two and half hours on foot through the wilderness. Few meters to the community, you could hear the noise and shout of school children from afar because the school is just at the entrance of the community.
We met a young man who was on his way to the farm at the entrance of the community. We ask for help and he took us to meet the elders in the community. Fortunately for us, the elders were already in a meeting so we were ushered in and given a warm welcome. As tradition demands drinks were offered before we stated our mission. We had fruitful discussions on developmental issues, and they were very happy to have us among them. A guide was assigned to take us round the community and the schools where we held separate meetings with the teachers and some of the town folks. The town is very close to Togo and it takes just 2hrs 45 minutes to 3 hours to cross to the other side. Due to their location, the people of Wli Todzi trade in both the Ghanaian cedi and the CFA Franc. The only motorable route to the community leads to Togo, so they trade mostly with Togolese.
After all said and done, we set out on our journey back home at exactly 12 noon after a wonderful and amazing experience at Wli Todzi. The people are so welcoming, hospitable and very accommodating. Our journey back was smooth and a bit easier than going. This time we were advice to carry walking sticks to support us in descending. It was somehow tough coming down as well, with our frail legs quavering like Parkinson’s. Finally we got down to the Wli Township at about 2:15 pm.
It was a wonderful experience at Wli Todzi but for such a town to catch up in development with the rest of the country, the government needs to expedite action on the road network to the mountain for easy access and mobility.

Franklin Yayra Adorsu-Djentuh