Mystical Nzulezu or Nzulezo: Village on Stilts near Beyin, Ghana

Nzulezu or Nzulezo Stilt Settlement in Western Region, Ghana

Mysteries never cease. People throughout the world have learned to live in ways that seem unimaginable to many. Village dwellers whose abodes are extraordinarily erected on stilts are among these marvels.

Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Vietnam and even Nova Scotia, Canada boast villages on stilts. Each village has its own unique tale which locals love to tell. Fabulous fables are related down through the generations in Benin and Nigeria of tribes who took refuge on the water creating homes on stilts to ensure security from their enemies.

Stilt villages like Nzulezu (also known as Nzulezo), found in the Jomoro District in the Western Region, Ghana near Beyin, are a wonder to those who have the opportunity to observe these amazing sites.  It’s no wonder Nzulezu became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

The Legend of Nzulezu or Nzulezo, the Village on Stilts

The legend from Ghana dates back 600 years. A god in the form of a snail floated across River Amansuri leading his tribal followers to safety after they quickly crafted raffia rafts to row behind him. These people were fleeing slave raiders who were in hot pursuit. Living in a village on water made it more difficult for them to be tracked down.

Homes on stiltsHowever, their adversaries relentlessly pursued them and discovered their hideout. The gods transformed the water into land, giving the enemy a seeming opportunity to overtake and capture their prey. But, as they approached the village, the gods changed the land back to water and the unsuspecting attackers were swallowed by the river and drowned. This is believed to have taken place on a Thursday, making this day sacred. On Thursday, no tours are conducted in Nzulezu, the village on stilts.

These villagers who originate from the Nzema people have adjusted to life in the middle of Lake Tandane. One might think that fishing is their major means of living, but farming provides much of their produce as they toil the land just across the lake. These inventive stilt dwellers surprisingly have electricity that comes from car batteries lighting their wood and raffia constructed neighborhood.

Visiting the Legendary Nzulezu is a Treat

Taking a tourA visit to Nzulezu, the Nzema word for “on water,” is a traveler’s treat. The journey commences at Beyin, in Western Ghana close to the Cote d’Ivoire border. A walk through the reeds is necessary to get to a dugout canoe that transports visitors to the village. The canoe cuts through the lush vegetation that provides the perfect home for several animal species. Aquatic life and birds can be seen in abundance as the canoe nears the village anchored on stilts over pristine waters.

Disembarking from the canoe, the visitor signs a guestbook before walking down a pathway lined with homes, a school and a guesthouse. The agile children are a sensational sight. Adept to life on the water, these youngsters are given a boat at the age of four so that they can move and play around their front and back yards – Lake Tandane.

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