Colleen’s post about the Hand Drawn Map Contest reminded me of a neat map of Kawu I was given some time ago. Kawu is the area where I do fieldwork, located in the Hohoe district of Ghana’s beautiful Volta Region. This map was drawn in 2003 by John Atsu, literacy coordinator and member of the Siwu Language Committee
The main villages (squares) and the tarred roads (thick lines) would be found on any sufficiently detailed map; more interesting are the farm settlements (FM), where farmers stay overnight if they work far from home; and the foot paths (x-x-x-x) that connect the villages where there are no roads.
I’m not sure why the map is oriented as it is (with West on the lower side), not having done fieldwork in enough different villages to be sure about how the Mawu talk about directionality and orientation. 1 The mountainous area on the lower side of the map is simply called Kùbe ‘the mountains’; partly in it, partly beyond it lies Awubeame, literally ‘in the mountains of the Mawu’, the area where the Mawu people lived before they split up into Akpafu and Lolobi.
The Kawu area is divided into two zones: Akpafu (north-west, comprised of Todzi, Odomi, Mempeasem, Adokor, and Sokpoo) and Lolobi (south-east, with Kumasi, Ashiambi, and Huyeasem). The names of the villages are usually prefixed by the traditional area: Akpafu-Todzi, Lolobi-Kumasi, and so on. A mountain ridge, or actually the river Dayi just east of it, provides a natural boundary between the two areas. The main dialectal division in Siwu corresponds to this geographic boundary.
Right in the center of the map lies Akpafu-Mempeasem, the village that is my home base while in the field. There is a foot path from there to Adokor (top left corner) which crosses the mountains (via Todzi) and a densely forested valley, until it reaches Sokpoo, where it changes into a 2nd class untarred road. It’s a very nice hike. And this map tells me I should also try to hike to Lolobi-Ashiambi one day — there is a footpath after all.
Below a picture of Akpafu-Todzi, the oldest town of Kawu and the seat of the paramount chief.
In the valley lies Akpafu-Odomi.
- What I know is that Todzi and Mempeasem are in an up-down relationship, with Todzi being called kaa i kato ‘home up high’ and Mempeasem kàlà ‘down’.