What would you do if one day you woke up in your suburban household, you get ready to go to your job in the city, where you spend your day collecting clients, making phone calls, taking care of customers, and selling goods, what if all this were gone? Where you buy the goods that you need to have for running your household, where you buy your food, and take your kids to school and you find out that you are no longer allowed access to the city to do what you have to do, to survive?
This is the predicament that Mosomagor found themselves in when Kakum national park was gazetted into its formal standing of a National park in 1992. The forest for the people in this village was their super market, offices, supplier, drug store, really their way of life. This was all forbidden to them when it became a National park, they were no longer able to hunt for food, gather food in the forest, collect the roots and herbs important to them in daily hygiene and healing illnesses. These forest products along with their agricultural products of cocoa, cassava, melon, corn, yams, and plantain allowed the village to be sustainable and successful in fulfilling its peoples needs.
After the formation of the park the people were no longer allowed into the park without a guide from the Wildlife division, this also meant that they could no longer hunt, gather or take things from the forest. This created quite the problem for this self sustained village, much like it would for you if you were no longer granted access to the city or your lively hood. This left few options for people in the village either they had to learn new skills to make products to sell at the market, or as many young men did, leave to the city to find more income. This was not good for the sustainability of the village because it split families and made the work a lot harder for the farmers left in the village. It also created a drain of young people and potential brain drain in the village because there was no need for young educated people to return to the village because there was no potential for income.
Kukyekukyeku (pronounced like if you were tickling a baby cochychochycoo) Bamboo Orchestra:
The original inhabitance of the village played music from instruments made of bamboo this way of playing music was invented by a few visionaries living in the village in its early years as a recreational activity that brought the village together in a social exercise. The tradition was strong until the 1970s when the young men who played the music were getting older and had less time to devote to the music due to raising families and other responsibilities.
In 1986 the music returned to the village with the young men once again reviving it as a means to get the girls in the village out of their houses and into social venues. But this was sort lived due to the national park being created and these young men left the village. In 1994 one of these young men with the help of an NGO revived the music in Mosomagor once again in a formal program to create income generation from tourists coming to see the orchestra. They now have village tours, a guest house, orchestra performances, and guided walks into the forest where guests can stay in a tree platform. The project is seen as a success and helps to keep young people in the village. They also have used the income to build a nice school block. It also is important to the conservation of the forest because it has provided and alternative to poaching.
This website offers a great historical and current perspective of Mosomagor and where I derived some of the information on this post.
Picture 1: Yao Mhadi, this man helped us find our way to the village from the junction to the main Kumasi road riding with us back to Mosomagor where he lives. He is an elder of the village helping to create the orchestra about 22 years back according to him. He said the village prospered from the tourism when the managed the funds themselves, but they have not been getting their fair share since the district assembly has taken over. (this was all learned through translation from our driver)