Akan Studies
by Phil Bartle
La version française de ce document.
Following the path of least resistance makes all rivers -- and some men -- crooked.
The arrival of the railway had an immense effect on the economy, social organization and people of Kwawu, including Obo.
Surf Boats on the Ocean Shore
Surf Boats Landed the First Locomotives
Originally, the Gold Coast did not have any natural harbours that could provide for ocean going vessels.  The large surf boats, made from the hardwoods of the rain forest, could hold up to about forty men, or the equivalent in cargo.  They offloaded goods coming from overseas, and loaded cocoa and other products to go overseas.  When the first rail way was built, the two artificial harbours had still not been built, so the locomotive was carried on four surf boats lashed together.  Six men died, but the locomotive was landed intact on the shore.  Today, the surf boats are used mainly for fishing, especially carrying nets from off shore to be then pulled in by hand from the shore.  Smuggling is not well documented,  but is a viable enterprise.
Although New Engines Were Diesel, Steam was Also Used Up To the End
The first trains were in Takoradi.  Later they came from Accra to Kumasi, and Nkawkaw was one of a few major stops along the route.  An historical document from the time describes Nkawkaw as a frontier town, much like in the opening up of North America, when the rails were laid and the first train arrived.
The Volta Lake on the Afram Plains
North Side of the Kwawu Escarpment, on the Afram Lake
Prior to the building of the railway, there were two trade routes from Kumase through Kwawu to Accra.  The one on the south side of the escarpment was by land, and involved walking for six days.  The one on the north side of the escarpment was on the Afram river.  The Volta River was called Afrau in Twi (Aflao in Ewe), and the Afram was "Afrau mu," (Afram) meaning "into the Volta."  In the sixties the Akosombo Dam was built, flooding the Afram and Volta rivers together to become a large shallow and silty lake.  In the photo above, the Afram River is flooded to now be the Afram Lake, and continued to be a source of fish and short distance transport on the north side of the escarpment, but is no longer a major transportation route between Kumase and Accra.

On the Outskirts of Accra
Comfortable Second Class Travel.A young fellow traveller.
When Time was Available, I enjoyed going to or from Kwawu by Train
A Young Fellow Traveller
For those used to a five or six hour drive from Accra to Nkawkaw, the train was a slow alternative.  but it was inexpensive and comfortable.  By the time the railway ended its service, some trips might take as much as a day and a half.
Track Side Markets
Along the Route
Koforidua was another major stop between Accra and Kumasi, about half way between Accra and Nkawkaw.  It is home to an Asante group which left the main Asante areas around Kumase.
Passenger trains were usually pulled by deisel engines

The shortest distance is not always a straight line
Akan History; Introduction;
Rain Forest Prehistory;
Settlement Patterns;
Forty Days;
Round to Square;
Historical Map;
The Afram, North of the Escarpment;
Kwasi Bruni. Corn and the Europeans;
Swiss Missionaries,  The Basel Pietists;
The railway, Revolutionary Effect on History;
Law in Ghana,  African and European origins;
Covert Gynocracy, Has Women's Power declined?
San ko fa
Prehistory in the Rain Forest
Settlement Patterns
Forty Days
Kwawu Kodiabe History
The Afram
Geographic Food Taboos
Swiss Missionaries
Oba ne oman -- Woman is the state
See: Gender
Women I; Food
Women II;  Farming
Women III: Cooking; 2
Women IV: Marketing
Women V; Clay
Men I; Wood
Men II; Weaving
Men III; Hunting
Men IV; Transport
Oil Palm
Palm Farming
Palmwine Tapping
Palmwine Selling
Other Palm Products
Gender Comensality
Modern Skills
Gender, Introduction
Farmer. Farming
Cooking Marketing Clay  
Weaving Transport Introduction: Oil Palm Tree Farming the oil palm Tapping: Collecting the palm sap
Marketing: Palm wine seller Other Palm Products Cocoa Industry Modern Skills
Link to the Home Page of this web site
....The Volta Lake on the Afram Plains.