Troubled Waters / Nsu a Owo Ohawmu
Korle Lagoon ˇ Ayigya-Zongo ˇ Assin Manso
installation with three water samples in plastic bottles,
photography, poem fragments, paintings
HMJokinen, 2011
Last Supper and Last Bath, painted by Ayasco

Korle Lagoon
The Ghanain newspapers call Korle Lagoon in Accra "the dirtiest place in the world". On the Agbogbloshie compound huge amounts of broken cars and electronic waste, illegally imported from the rich countries, are manually taken apart by the poorest of the poor. Children and young people from the nearby shack dwellers community Old Fadama burn plastic coated computer cables, thus salvaging small amounts of copper to sell to scrap dealers. The cables and the hard foam removed from old refrigerators and used to kindle the fires, emit extremely poisonous fumes when burned. The air as well as the lagoon and the sea water are significantly polluted with heavy metals. The neighbours are also in danger of seriously damaging their health, and the fish mortality on the Accra coast is alarming.
Old Fadama with 80.000 inhabitants is situated in the middle of Accra. The residents have mainly small businesses in the near market places. Currently foreign investors, most of them from Arab countries, have become attracted by the centrally located premises and want to build a recreational park there. Their plans are supported by politicians and accompanied by the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project KLERP - at first view a reasonable solution. However, the plans will evidently lead to gentrification, since it is foreseen to resettle the people of Old Fadama on the outskirts of the city where they would loose their very means of subsistence. NGOs have now presented substantial alternative models for e-waste recycling that avoid damaging people and nature, but these proposals seem to have fallen on deaf ears of the decision makers. The Old Fadama people are presently organising protests against the forced evictions.
Ayigya-Zongo bog water spot
The Ayigya-Zongo neighbourhood in the city of Kumasi, Ashanti Region, is faced with the privatization of drinking water. The residents, who are not wealthy enough to buy the provided water, have to switch to a spot with dirty bog water which, in addition, is far away. Especially the children get sick because of the poor water quality.
Assin Manso river and Memorial Place
Assin Manso in the Central Region of Ghana is a site where for many centuries the caravans, transporting enslaved people, used to rest. Those captured who had survived the exhausting march and still had strength, were bathed in the river and sold on the spot. The weakened were left to die on the river banks. The traders brought the enslaved to the forts on the coast from where they were shipped to the Caribbean Islands and the Americas. Today Assin Manso is a memorial place for those who had to suffer.
Numerous specific characteristics of water are still enigmatic, even in the domain of science. Water is capable of building complex and variable molecular clusters, and therefore is considered to have a kind of "memory". In Ghana water gods and spirits are worshipped still today, and water myths are maintained, especially among local fishermen.
HMJokinen researched the three places where water in different ways plays an important role. She also visited holy water sites of the Fante people on the Ghanain coast in Winneba, Cape Coast and Anomabo.
In the workshop space exhibition on Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Campus the artist presents a table installation with three water samples, taken from the Korle Lagoon, the Ayigya-Zongo bog water spot and the Assin Manso Memorial Place. She combines the water samples with fragments of Wole Soyinka's poem Anismistic Spells and with her own poem Ayigya-Zongo as well as with photos of the spots where she collected the water samples.
In Ghana, skilful commercial painting is widespread. Two paintings, realised by the Kumasi based painter Ayasco in cooperation with HMJokinen, complete the Troubled Waters installation. The image Last Supper/Edzidzie a Odzienwieyi refers to the fatal over-fishing by Western trawlers on the coast of Accra. The painting Last Bath/Egur a Odziewieyi shows a scene of the scrap spot in Agbogbloshie, Old Fadama, and the title also refers to the saying that the enslaved took their last bath in the Assin Manso river before they were sold and deported.

Assin Manso
first you must
walk among the faceless
their feet are shod in earth
and dung
Wole Soyinka
Animistic Spells

Korle Lagoon
as they, bread as breath
is held and spent, disgarding
weights of time
in clutching and possessing
- yokes of death
Wole Soyinka
Animistic Spells

blue shimmers wasted waters
blue writes lines in redred dust
black feet
small and fragile
touch black oil
on troubled soil

contact & credits | disclaimer