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Legend of Lake Bosomtwe

An article I wrote for the Business and Financial Times about our most recent trip to Kumasi where we were able to visit Lake Bosomtwe, a lake that was formed by a meteor over a million years ago. This spread is fun because it features a photo of Avery and Sean swimming in the lake!

 

Several kilometers south-east of Kumasi lies the only natural lake in Ghana, Lake Bosomtwe. This sacred lake is about 10.5 km in diameter but started as a small pond, only relying on rainwater and evaporation to determine water levels. Coming from Oregon, USA, my state is known for its beautiful lakes and rivers so naturally I was excited to visit the well-known monument.

Before arriving, the only information that my classmates and I knew was that it was created over a million years ago when a meteor hit the area to form a crater. The bus drove down a windy road which led to a village just a few meters from the lake. As I walked up to the lake, the first thing I noticed was that the water looked very clean and unpolluted. We boarded a boat made entirely of wood which was terrifying because most boats that I’ve been on have been made of glass, metal, and other sturdy materials.

The tour guide steered the boat around the right side of the lake as he pointed out the tilapia in the lake as well as the 300-year-old tree in the middle. He also explained that the lake was over 300 feet in the center and that the boat is unable to cross from one side to the other because the boat would sink in the middle. Instead, we went along the side of the lake as he told us the legend of the lake.

Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, a hunter named Akora Bompe was hunting an antelope when it escaped by disappearing into the pond. Fortunately, this led the hunter to the pond which was a prime area to catch many fish. The lake was named after this legend, as Obosom means god and otwe means antelope, therefore, creating Bosomtwe. Listening to the legend was intriguing because it describes the scarcity and significance of fish in the area.

Though the legend gave me context on the formation of the lake, I was more intrigued at how the lake grew from a pond to a large body of water deep enough to sink a boat. From a larger perspective, it is mind-boggling to realize that the rainfall had to be heavy enough to fill the entire lake, since there are no rivers or streams connecting to it. As the boat turned around and headed back to shore, the tour guide allowed us to jump into the lake and swim to shore. I personally don’t enjoy swimming in lakes, so instead I snapped photos of my classmates and took the time to soak in the beauty of the lake.

As we left the lake to head back to Accra, we took a scenic route that included passing a piece of land where illegal gold mining is prominent. Before coming to Ghana, I learned that the country has been nicknamed the Gold coast because of the billions of dollar’s worth of gold that has been exported. The topic of gold mining has intrigued me ever since because it is such a valuable and precious metal.

During my first week, I tried to read as many articles as I could about mining. I read that getting a license can be difficult because they are given on a first come-first serve basis, leading to the rise of illegal gold mining. The consequence is usually confiscation of equipment, forfeiture of materials, and a fine or imprisonment. For foreigners, the punishment can be significantly harsher.

Visiting the outskirts of Kumasi gave me an insight on a more local part of Ghana. From visiting a lake which reminded me of home, to finally seeing the illegal gold mining site that I had read so much about, Ghana continues to not only meet my expectations, but exceed them as well.