This was as much a story about how much Tulio Alves kept moving, as it was about the place where she did it, and the life it entailed. In recent months, Alves has become a key figure in “No Man’s Land”–an upstart group advocating for Ghana’s neglected northeast region of the country–and the Tarkwa-speaking inhabitants who call it home.
Around April 1, she was one of several activists to move across open-top trucks into their territory, just outside the Ghanaian capital city of Accra. They met that day with a local priest to discuss the future, and both men gave a nod of approval, Alves said.
That was it. Alves and the rest of her team sat in a circle and prayed, making a declaration of the area’s importance.
“The most important thing,” she said, “is that it can be used as a center for development.”
Under Ghana’s national laws, the northeast’s inhabitants have a right to land, Alves said. What they don’t have, however, is the resources to make use of it, and many aren’t entirely sure that they can pursue development and yet maintain a certain semblance of local control.
What’s more, they don’t have a plan for what will happen when they leave or when the climate changes, as it inevitably will, Alves said. In other words, the northeast has a lot of promise, but Alves has a great deal of time to think about what she wants to see happen.
To do so, she has left the United States. She’ll stay in Ghana for nearly two years, focusing on maintaining relationships and fundraising, while simultaneously teaching other African immigrants to appreciate the country.
“(Ghanaians) are really in a strange spot because they have no idea about the Americans,” she said. “I was trying to explain to them, ‘This country’s different. This place’s not about (Western issues).’ We’re on different worlds. We have so many identities.”