I went with some geography students of Tamale Senior High school on a tour to the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and proceeded to the Kintampo Waterfalls. Knowing Ghana, my homeland, is now a passion, so I decided to share our experience.
HISTORY OF THE BUABENG FIEMA MONKEY SANCTUARY
In the year 1827, some people went to settle in Buabeng Fiema. There was a hunter among them. One day, the hunter who was called Nana Ampong decided to go to the river side to fetch water. On reaching the river bank, he found a fetish covered with white cloth, flanked by the white and black colobus and mona monkeys. When the monkeys saw the hunter with his gun, they fled, leaving the fetish. The hunter decided to take the fetish home. When they woke up the next morning, they found four monkeys in the village. They consulted an oracle and the oracle told them that the monkeys were the children of the oracle, so if they liked the monkeys and could live with them without any problem, they could keep the fetish but if they could not live with them, then they should take the oracle back to where it was found.
The settlers liked the fetish and the monkeys because they met them in Buabeng Fiema when they went to settle there, so opted to keep it and live in harmony with the monkeys. The fetish told them that anyone who caused any harm to any of the monkeys would face the anger of the fetish by dying. The settlers agreed. The oracle also told them that if any of the monkeys died, they should bury them like humans or else, the fetish gods will deal with them. The settlers obeyed and prepared sizeable coffins for the burial of dead monkeys and the fetish priest of the village poured libation to go with the burial. (Still a ritual)
If the monkeys get sick or injured, they have their own medications in their sanctuary (which is the forest in which they live) but no one has been able to get their medications. If they realize they are going to die, they go to the village or to a public place and die, so they can be found for burial.
The monkeys live in groups and every group has its leader. In the group of the mona monkeys, the head of the group, who is always the biggest, is the only one allowed to have sex with all the females in the group. If another male tries it, the leader beats it to a pulp. So if a male wants its freedom, it needs to form its own group. The groups get their territories marked so no other group can evade, if there is an evasion, there will be a terrible war. Funny enough, the mona monkeys play with the black and white colobus monkey without friction. The monkeys go to the village after the villagers go to farm to steal their foods, so villagers who are not careful will have no food in their houses upon their return from farm. No monkey can be hurt or given any form of punishment because any harm on any of the monkeys is tantamount to death. (At this point, I asked if it is really true that one might die if he or she harms a monkey.) To this, he replied: “Ei madam, please don’t doubt this, when I was in class four, the Salvation Army Church members defied the gods and killed the monkeys for their meet claiming the words of the gods were superstitions, they died painful deaths until their extinction. So the villagers learnt their lessons” The guide, Mr. Edmund, cautioned that noise will scare the monkeys off, so tourists just needed bananas or other foods, extend them to the monkeys and they would come and take them, granting tourists time to take pictures.
There are other animals in the sanctuary, but the monkeys have a larger population, they may be over 3000 monkeys now, they were counted more than five years ago and were about 2000 monkeys. Since the mona monkeys deliver every five months, and the black and white colobus deliver every two years, their population has surely increased.There are snakes but mangoose are also many in the sanctuary, since they feed on snakes, the snakes are not many in the sanctuary. Hunting in the Sanctuary is forbidden. So even if a tree falls, it is left to rot. There are trees like the ficus tree, which is a parasitic kind of tree, it eats up an existing tree and replaces it by planting its root and eventually plants its root from the top into the soil. THE MONKEY CEMETERY
There are two signboards in the cemetery; Madam Afia Boahene and Nana Kwaku Amponsah, but the one who discovered the fetish and monkeys was called Nana Ampong. Madam Afia Boahene was a virgin who helped the village to communicate with the fetish any time there was going to be a disaster. The fetish told her to warn the village, they also told her what the village needed to do to counter the attack. So the then priest, who was Nana Amponsah, prayed to counter it. Madam Afia Boahene died at the age of 120 and no virgin has been found to replace her. Now, whenever there is going to be a calamity, the monkeys cry deep into the night for seven days. Mostly, this cry means a chief of the two surrounding villages is going to die. The unfortunate thing is that, nothing can be done to reverse this as no one hears the voice of the fetish. The three people; Nana Ampong, Nana Amponsah and Madam Afia Boahene were all buried at the Monkey Cemetery because they are all considered the children of the fetish. I have to add that, there is also another story of a king and his men going to war leaving only women and children in the village. Fearing they may come to harm, he turned them into monkeys, hoping to come back and turn them back into beings. Unfortunately for them, they all perished leaving the human monkeys to live in the Monkey Sanctuary.
HISTORY OF THE KINTAMPO WATERFALLS
It was discovered in the 18th century by a roaming hunter called Nana Ankomah who was the first formal chief of the area. He kept mute about it and visited the place with his family. During the colonial era, a British colonial doctor called Dr. Saunders also found the waterfalls so decided to develop it and make it known to all. The place was named after him and so was called the Dr. Saunder’s Waterfalls. Shortly after independence, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also took over and built some houses there. Since, Dr. Saunders was no more, he changed the name from Dr. Saunders to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Waterfalls. After the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the buildings he had became idle. In 1992, the place went under the Ghana Tourist Board who decided to change the name because Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was no more. They chose to name it after the town, hence, the Kintampo Waterfalls.
Stage one is the lower fall, stage two is the normal stream water and stage three is the only place one is allowed to swim. In stage three, one can fall easily because the place is very slippery. Females in their menstrual cycle are not allowed to swim.