Akpertiyo Lawer, who estimates her age at 90, at her home in Matsekope, a village on Ghana's salt-rich Songor Lagoon. Pictured with her grandchildren, Roberta Sottie, 17, and Obed Sottie Obed, 21, she is known for her protest songs, which are often spontaneously composed and sung. She is a member of the Yihi Katseme (Brave Women) who fighting to reclaim their right to the lagoonÃ¢€™s wealth.
The salt-rich Songor Lagoon was historically a communal resource managed in trust for the people of Ada by the leadership of the clan to whom, according to legend, it was bequeathed by the spirit of an old woman (the 'Yomo'). Anyone could win salt in exchange for a tithe, and it was an important source of financial independence for women. In more recent times, individuals began to imitate commercial salt production methods, leading to the creation of private pans (locally known as 'atsiakpo') in and around the lagoon. Fuelled by greed, self-interest and corruption, the phenomenon exploded, all but killing off the communal way and threatening the very lagoon itself. Those who lack the means to establish their own pans are reduced to labouring for others, a situation that disproportionately affects women.
In late 2020, without public consultation or scrutiny, the government of Ghana granted a fifteen year commercial concession covering the entire lagoon to Electrochem Ltd, a company belonging to local businessman Daniel McKorley. The future of the lagoon and the livelihoods of the 45 communities surrounding it are unclear.