Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures

Korleykope, Ghana

Nene Korley IV, the chief of the Tekperbiawe clan, to whom the salt-rich Songor Lagoon is traditionally believed to have been bequeathed. According to legend, a hunter named Korley wounded an animal while hunting. He followed it into a forest where it turned into an old woman who entrusted the lagoon to him.

Since then the Songor Lagoon has historically been a communal resource managed in trust for the people of Ada by the leadership of the clan, notably a traditional priest known as the Libiwornor. 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.

A group of women known as the 'Yihi Katseme' (Brave Women) are fighting to reclaim their right to the lagoon's wealth. In the meantime 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. According to Nene Korley it was the chiefs of the Ada area who together presented McKorley to the government and asked that he be granted the concession. Community members say they were not consulted, as does the Libiwornor.

Object Name
Nyani Quarmyne/Panos Pictures
Max size
High Resolution
5000 x 3333 pixels
42.33 x 28.22 cm (300 dpi)
16.67 x 11.11 inch (300 dpi)
5.8 MB size on disk
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