Report from Aaron Kweku Amanor, Master Programme in Indigenous Studies, University of Tromsø
Financial support to a project with the topic:
“Condom Use Among The Indigenous People Of Akuse, Ghana.”
The fieldwork was performed in Akuse in the eastern region of Ghana with financial assistance from the Centre for Sámi Studies and Lånekassen respectively. The work address the primary objective of the fieldwork which were to investigate the attitude of young adult towards the use of condoms and find out about the factors that prevent them from using condom. The research also considers the role gender and religion plays in condom use.
Life in Akuse
Akuse is in the eastern region of Ghana, located between Somanya and Asutsuare in the Lower Manya Krobo district and is about one kilometer from the bank of Lake Volta with irrigation canal passing through the outskirt of the town which is used for rice farming. People have little money. Their houses are basic: bricks and blocks walls with a roof made of iron sheets. The community has a very high breed of mosquitoes leading to high cases of malaria in the community. This might be due to the water-log nature of the land and the irrigation canal that passes through the outskirt of the town used for rice farming in both Akuse and Asutsuare. The town has a population of about 3 000 people and has a tropical climate.
A dam has been constructed on the Volta Lake nearer Akuse owned by the Volta River Authority (VRA) for the generation hydro-electricity for the country. This has attracted employees from different part of the country into the community making Akuse a very popular town in Ghana. However it important to note that the employees of VRA are living in a separate environment of their own with good housing facilities and are economically better off than the indigenous people of Akuse.
A big concern to the people of Akuse is the mass unemployment of the youth in the town. This is attributed to lack of industries and other employable works in the town. It’s reported that during the early 19th centuries, the Germans had a trading post in Akuse wherein they built warehouses, hospital and factories that did employed people in Akuse and it environ. After their departure, many are left unemployed. Most of the warehouses I saw had been converted into church auditoriums and shops by individuals. The only property left behind by the German traders that have been of a good use is the Hospital, named, The Akuse Government hospital which serves the district and other towns around it.
The major economic activity of the community is rice farming, followed by trading. Their engagement into rice farming can be attributed to the nature of the soil. The soil has clayey nature which makes it muddy during the raining season and hardy during the dry season. As a result of this, the crop that does well on the land is rice and majority of people are found in this agricultural activity.
Data were therefore gathered using a qualitative method. The reasons being that I did not know much of the phenomenon I was about studying and therefore needed to explore how people think about condom use, why they refuse to use it, their attitudes towards it and the meanings they give to it. The main primary data were collected using semi-structure interviews which did enable me get direct information about their attitude towards condom use and the reason they refuse to use condom. Muslims and Christians were also interviewed as plan to find out the influence of religious affiliations on their attitude towards condom use. I also manage to interview only one Senior Nurses at the Akuse Government hospital who really gave me a good insight to the attitude towards condom use from her perspective and what to her was the contributing factor that affects the community’s attitudes towards condom use.
The questions of the interviews ranged from knowledge of HIV/AIDS to the reason the refuse to use condom. Opinion and other relevant issues in understanding attitudes towards condom use were also collected. I also studied some relevant literatures and some individual thesis. The study tried to see how gender and religious affiliation influence attitudes towards condom use.
Before I started my fieldwork, secondary data was one of the methods I thought of using since a number of studies had gone on about condom use and HIV/AIDS by scholars and authorities. I visited the University of Ghana Libraries; especially sociology department library which gave me the opportunity to access information that were difficult to come by when I was at the field. This information was further supplement to the data that I gathered during the field work at Akuse.
Over the two months, I have conducted around 21 interviews; with assistance from a Teacher. The Teacher was a member of the community and it was therefore easier for the members to identify with him. The 21 interviews were somehow evenly split between Christian and non-Christians, Male and female so as to have a balanced review and assessment of the cases. The informants were mostly traders and farmers who had little education. Majority of them were also in relation while some were married. Others too were not into any relationship but were conversant with relationship issues.
Additionally, during the fieldwork, I was able to visit a number of sites of which I collected a number of photographs. I visited the Akuse hydropower generation station (taking of photograph was strictly forbidden), Akuse Government Hospital, Rice farms and irrigation canal to be hopefully included in the thesis.
Centre for Sámi Studies and Lånekassen had kindly supported my fieldwork. The financial support from the Centre for Sámi Studies and Lånekassen greatly aided the fieldwork in terms of transportations, accommodation, food and buying of a relevant journal for my literature review. I therefore appreciate these supports and want to thank the Centre for Sámi Studies and Lånekassen for this great financial assistance.