Institute of African Studies

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    VISITORS WITHOUT BORDERS? Concords and Discords among National Communities in the Visitors’ Books
    (University of Ghana, 2020-03-12) Akpabli, K.
    Since the Government of Ghana declared 2019 as the Year of Return, visitations to the former slave dungeons of Cape Coast and Elmina have significantly increased. As they trudge through the doors and corridors of these monuments of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, visitors are taken through the harrowing experiences - which enslaved Africans suffered centuries ago before they were shipped to the various countries mainly in the New World. Together, these two sites have a long and varied history, and although they are places of incontestable human tragedy, they are equally spaces of contention. This paper explores how visitors to Cape Coast and Elmina castles coalesce or disagree on issues raised in the visitors’ books. Using contextual analysis, the research pays attention to, and attempts to draw the line between nationality and positionality. How, for example, does nationality affect observation, opinion or themes expressed? The paper contextually analyses a two month-long collation of visitors’ impressions, gathered around the period of the celebration - in Cape Coast - of PANAFEST/Emancipation Day which also marked 400 years of the start of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Data gathered from the two monuments tend to support the position of scholarship on visitor studies, which states that as they engage in the collaborative enterprise of reading and logging their own comments, visitors contribute to the building of communities around specific subject matters raised on the pages. Though some research have been conducted on the representation of both castles, not much has been done on visitor comment and citizenship. While paying close attention to how comments are framed, the research attempts to piece together correlations between the issues visitors inscribe vis-a-vis the politics of their national identities. Recognising that over their centuries-long history, the two monuments have been built and owned by at least, five different nations, the study deconstructs their respective visitors’ books as inter-cultural sounding boards of consensus and contention.
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    Sports: Levelling the Playing Field.
    (2020-02-06) Damion, T.
    Sports matter far beyond the playing field. This lecture explores how the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture uses sports as entry points into larger social, cultural, and political conversations affecting U.S. race relations.
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    Materiality and Real Estate: Evolving Cultural Practices of Security on the Urban Gold Coast in the Nineteenth Century
    (2018-11-15) Hesse, H.W.
    Historians of the African Atlantic world have increasingly emphasized cultural transformations and insecurity arising from the slave trade and Afro-European trade in urban settings. Whilst acknowledging the importance of these earlier studies, this research will argue that in participating in Atlantic commerce, nineteenth century Gold Coast merchant families transformed and deployed material culture – stone households, heirlooms and otherwise inalienable sacred objects into forms of collateral that could be used in real estate and other commercial transactions. In so doing, Gold Coast merchants expanded the cultural repertoire and commercial value of materiality in ways that gave meaning and form to the political and urban realities of the West African coast. In focusing on five prominent Gold Coast merchant families – the Brew, Bannerman, Hansen, Ankra and Richter establishments this paper will analyze the shifting discourses and cultural practices relating to security, power, vulnerability and materiality in the transition away from the slave trade and legitimate commerce to colonialism in the nineteenth century. By emphasizing evolving cultural understandings of security as evident in the investments in stone households/buildings, “trinkets”, heirlooms, family deities and ancestral veneration this study emphasizes how West African merchants materially expressed their vulnerability and declining power in an emerging British colonial economy by the second half of the nineteenth century. Ultimately, this study will make the point that West African merchants transformed their cultural understandings about the materiality of power, security and the sacred – rooted in their merchant households and transactional and cultural practices– into other forms of value to meet the exigencies of an Atlantic and emerging (proto) colonial economy and legal framework on the urban Gold Coast.
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    Geopolitics in Contemporary Africa: African Wealth still targeted by the West.
    (2018-11-22) Bakunda, P-C.; Amanor, K.
    The geopolitics of contemporary Africa lead us first to consider ancient Africa and evaluate the legacy of slavery, colonialism, and the post-colonial era. the geolocation of Africa has not changed, but its geopolitical and geostrategic behaviour evolve from period to period. The African continent has always been in the sights of the colonizer who was inspired by the golden rules of "divide to better rule" and exploit the African continent and his inhabitants then considered savage. The African continent has been humiliated and despoiled by Westerners seeking to enrich themselves to the detriment of the African peoples. In order to firmly establish their influences and not to fight on the African soil, they gathered in the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 to define how to divide Africa into separate parts. Thus, 14 countries were present at this Conference and made resolutions to which the Kings and Chiefs of the African people were not associated. The Euro-African relationship was never balanced because some considered themselves masters while others were servants in their own countries. At present the African continent remains the target of foreign hidden hands or neocolonialists who do not care about the inhabitants whose fate is severe poverty, malnutrition, diseases, lack of safe drinking water, etc. due to unfair geopolitics both internal and external, Africa has been on the dinner table for too long and Europeans have been at the same table to enjoy her wealth that they do not even share with most Africans.
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    Being Black in post-apartheid South Africa
    (2018-11-28) Phadi, M.
    As the state of South Africa matures, questions attached to meanings of being ‘Black’ have become more pervasive, and the promised freedom is embroiled in sharpening contradictions and paradoxes. The construction and reconstruction of Blackness developed within capitalism, which is the cornerstone of structural racism. Inferiority complexes emanate from the process of construction, and the overlap between old and new structural contexts reconstructs Black ontology. The article uses grounded experiences of people and the meanings they attach to their realities to stretch ideas of race and class, expanding on Du Bois’ theoretical and empirical scholarship, which pioneered interweaving the relationship between capitalism and how it molds the notion of being Black. I engaged with eight ‘elites’ and forty-six ‘ordinary’ people. ‘Elites’ are those who influenced the intellectual and political landscape, and the term ‘ordinary’ is used, not in an ignominious sense, but as a category of distinction from the ‘elites’. The article argues that being Black in post-apartheid South Africa produces multiple consciousness. Multiple consciousness has multiple folds which interact to disrupt the collective history of oppression. This consciousness does not operate outside capitalism, but it is embedded within its structures.
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    Cold War and Cultural Diplomacy: Musical Dialogues between Cuba and West Africa (1960s-1970s)
    (2017-01-20) Djebbari, E.; Quayson, A.
    Based on ethnographic fieldwork and archives research, the paper will analyse the political and musical issues revealed by the crisscrossing and the transnational journeys of Malian and Cuban musicians in the light of the new cultural exchanges initiated between Cuba and newly independent socialist African countries within the Cold War. In this particular political context, the role of music as a key component of cultural diplomacy and policies will be explored, particularly through the cultural conventions signed between Cuba and several African countries in the 1960s. In this frame, I will mainly address the creation of the band Las Maravillas de Mali by young Malian sent to Cuba to get train in music in the 1960s. In parallel, the tours made in Africa from the 1970s by famous Cuban orchestra Orquesta Aragón will complement the analysis grid of these transatlantic political exchanges
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    Are we doing enough in Diabetes Care? Lessons from a Hermeneutic Phenomenological Investigation
    (2018-11-01) Ekotto, F.; Frehiwot, M.
    In this documentary, Marthe Djilo Kamga takes us along as she engages in fruitful conversations with four other African female artists who, like her, know exile as well as how necessary it is to transmit to younger generations what they have learned as their multiple identities have evolved and fused. The original score that accompanies the voices of these three generations of women is an active part of the adventure, a witness for the future. The conversations are connected by key themes of cultural heritage, historical memory and how images shape personal and collective memories. Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion with My Sisters is the first installment of Frieda Ekotto’s visual research project Vibrancy of Silence: Archiving the Images and Cultural Production of Sub-Saharan African Women on African women as the unsung heroines of artistic and cultural production. Indeed, their immense cultural and creative contributions remain underrepresented and inexplicably invisible. She is resolved to affirm and archive her own story and thus participate in a rereading of the “Colonial Library” with new kinds of narratives by and for women
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    The impact of transformational leadership and a series of organisational factors on employee performance – a survey of organisations in ghana
    (2017-08-24) Bempong, B.F.; Asumeng, M.A.
    Within global competitive markets, some developing economies (e.g. Ghana) lag behind those of developed countries (e.g. the UK), resulting in a widening economic gap. The growing disparity between the developed and the developing economies has caused great concern among political leaders, organisat­ional leaders, management researchers, and other world bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Such disparity raises the question as to what factors account for the differences in performance between developing and developed economies. How do firms and organisations in developed economies obtain higher levels of performance than firms and organisations in developing economies? Research indicates that factors such as transformational leadership, organisational culture, organisational climate, organisational commitment, and national culture can influence performance in the western economies. However, such evidence does not exist in the developing economies like Ghana. This thesis therefore explores whether these western concepts similarly apply in the developing economies like Ghana. Five hundred and eighteen (518) employees were sampled from fourteen (14) organisations in Ghana in a cross-sectional survey. Multi-varied analysis of the data revealed significant relationships amongst the research variables: Significant differences across research variables also exist between organisations from the different sectors. Analyses through structural equation modelling indicated that transformational leadership (stimulating leadership, and supportive leadership), organisational commitment, organisational climate, and organisational culture (innovative culture, tranquil culture, and bureaucratic culture) adequately explained the variance in employee performance. It was concluded that factors that affect employees in the western economies also apply, with some variation, in the developing economies like Ghana. Suggestions and recommendations were made for future research.
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    On writing biography: my experience with george james christian
    (2017-06-02) Rouse-Jones, M.D.; Ansah, M.A.
    The presentation will describe my experience of writing the following book: Returned Exile: A Biography of George James Christian of Dominica and the Gold Coasts, 1869-1940. Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press and Republic Bank Limited, 2016, 320p. It will consider the following themes: 1 Data Gathering from Personal Papers 2 Creating other Source Materials: Collection of oral sources 3 Outline of A Life 4 From Source-Material to Story 5 Importance of the Scholarly Review Process 6 Timelines for the Process
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    The creation of a Ghanaian identity through half a century of Modernist paintings (ca 1950s – 1990s)
    (2017-03-15) Labi, K.A.; Ampofo, A.A.
    Ota Benga, a pygmy from the Congo recruited for the Saint-Louis of 1904 and subsequently exhibited at the Fair and the Bronx Zoological Park in New York City, symbolizes the tragic fate of Africans targeted by conquering Western States in search of new resources and territory. The body of Ota Benga was literally and symbolically caught in the network of the colonial machinery that speaks both the language of raw exploitation and humanitarianism. Ota Benga, the “dark skin stranger from 10.000 miles away” (New York Tribune, October 7, 1906), “represents the missing links between the higher man and the chimpanzee” (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 23, 1906). Benga eventually killed himself with a gun in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was in 1916. His tragic fate writes the story of the vanquished pre-colonial African State, the moral legitimation of the Imperialist European State, but also prefigures the future failed State of the Postcolonial Age. Dr. Philip Verner brought Ota Benga from the Congo to the United States. He subsequently invented many fictions to explain and justify his association with Ota Benga. Out of these fictions stood the story of rescuing Benga, with the help of Belgian army officers, from a death at the hands of cannibals. The reader also learned that “his second wife died from the sting of an African viper, a beautiful snake” (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 23, 1906). I argue in this presentation that it is significant that while Benga is kidnapped and exposed in a monkey’s cage in the United States of America, a snake that is redeemed as beautiful by the Western imagination rhetorically victimizes his wife. The beautiful snake stands in metaphorically as the drive towards the massive and long-lasting dispossession of Africans undertaken under the guise of nature conservation. In 1903, the British Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire came into existence. Africans have been seen displaced from their habitat to provide room for the “darlings of the animal kingdom.” Western NGOS operating in area of the protection of the environment reproduce what I have termed elsewhere the Humanitarian Misunderstanding. In remaining deaf and blind to their colonial genealogies, these NGOS fail to challenge the dubious practices of the eugenics movement, amplifying what some have termed the “greening of hate”. Unlike Ota Benga was displayed in a monkey’s cage at the beginning of the 20th century. In this contemporary moment, radical western ecologists, armed with a dubious ecocentrism, have managed to displace Africans from the wild, making them unfit for the monkey’s cage.
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    Do Interventions to Support Women Producers Promote Gender Equality and Equity in the Rural Economy? Reflections on Recent Measures in the Context of Agricultural Commercialisation
    (2017-02-23) Tsikata, D.; Darkwah, A.
    In recognition of the entrenched character of their challenges with decent work and economic emancipation, rural women are one of the most targeted groups in development interventions. The gender and development literature is replete with assessments of such interventions which have been mainly within the WID-GAD development framework (e.g. Buvinic, 1986; Schroeder 1999; Kabeer, 1994). A major concern in that literature has been to explain the unexpected responses or lack of positive results from several interventions. Often projects ignored or tried to circumvent the power relations within households and the conjugal union, women’s heavy reproductive workloads and the overarching effects of the larger political economy on livelihoods. This seems to be a persistent problem in many efforts to support women producers and address gender inequalities in rural production systems. In this seminar, I reflect on recent interventions aimed at improving the conditions of rural women producers and their livelihood outcomes in the context of Agricultural Commercialisation in Ghana. I discuss the extent to which they contribute to more equitable gender relations and draw lessons for approaching interventions in the world of work as elements of a transformative gender equality project. The interventions include a) measures to improve access to land and security of tenure for women; b) support women’s participation in commercial agriculture projects; and c) CSR projects which seek to support women’s reproductive activities. I argue that beyond design and implementation challenges, the limitations of these intervention are related to the fact that they have tended to focus on only one of several challenges rural women producers face and are undermined by the larger policy context of neglect of smallholder agriculture and gender inequalities in other spheres.
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    Afro-Latin-Africa: Movement and Memory in Benin
    (2017-01-20) Kabir, A.J.; Quayson, A.
    The Afro-diasporic music styles that developed in twentieth-century Cuba and their corresponding social dances, from rumba to mambo to salsa, have been ‘returning’ to West and Central Africa since at least the 1930s. Different frameworks have shaped this transatlantic movement of Afro-diasporic rhythms: transcolonial exchanges, decolonization, the Cold War, and, today, globalisation, social media, and other internet-enabled technologies of communication. What do these transactions between ‘Afro-Latin-Africa’ signify in a deeper memorial context? This paper will draw on fieldwork with dancers and musicians conducted in Cotonou, Benin (February 2015 and January 2016), and a collaborative experiment, ‘Afro-Latin-Africa’, that brought together in London a dancer and a singer from Benin and Cuban musicians. This public event took place in London in September 2015. It was commissioned through the ERC research project, ‘Modern Moves’, which I direct. The analysis is given a further twist through my reading of archival documents pertaining to the launching of UNESCO’s Slave Route at Ouidah, Benin in 1994, a high profile event that had involved a veritable who’s who of the Black Atlantic intellectual world, including Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, Edouard Glissant, and Wole Soyinka, and aimed at building an ‘Afro-American bridge’ connecting continents, memories, and traumas to promote world peace and development. Reading the body in and out of the text, I analyse the movement of memory in the circum-Atlantic context. The somatic and affective ties binding memory and movement in the (new) Black Atlantic enable me to conceptualize modernity through decolonial cultural exchanges between the Americas and West Africa, while taking seriously the return of ‘enchantment’ through the dancing body as a way out of difficult memories of a shared yet severed history.
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    The significance of Arabic manuscript documentation and preservation in West Africa
    (2017-01-12) Stewart; Bari-Islamic, S.O.B.
    This talk will in part be tribute to the leadership that Ghana, and Legon in particular, played in the beginnings of research into Arabic script writings in West African history, and in part it will be an autobiographical account by Stewart from his first year at Legon (1961-2) and subsequent M.A. study at the IAS (1963-5) that focused his career on the documentation and preservation of West Africa’s rich manuscript literature. During the past fifty years we have progressed from amazement that an indigenous, pre-colonial written record of any sort existed, to a non-critical reverence for the Word that led to an inflation in the reputed value of manuscripts, and finally, and more recently, serious, scientific study of the texts and their meanings as historical documents. This, and the recent interest in codicology, the materiality of the manuscripts themselves, breathes new life in the significance of manuscript documentation and importance of their preservation
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    Black Settlers: Neoliberalism and Ecosystemic change in Zambia’s Southern Province, 1964-2009
    (2016-11-24) Moorsom, T.L.; Aidoo, K.O.
    Dr. Moorsom will discuss the impacts of neoliberal economic p​olicy among a group of Tonga farmers in Zambia’s Southern Province. The agro-pastoralists at the center of this study farm predominantly within private titled holdings, which were initially cleared for white settler populations. In contrast to dominant narratives of the post-independence period in Africa, Dr. Moorsom argues that Zambia did experience a developmental process post-independence, which saw significant achievements made in the agricultural sector, including the doubling of national cattle stocks. Dr. Moorsom’s research uncovers processes of overwhelming ecosystemic change that contributed to livestock epidemics of severe scale and scope. Amazingly, this went largely undocumented because of the simultaneous crisis of the state, which left the national statistics office and other state bodies incapable of functioning from the late 1980s into the 2000s. Dr. Moorsom will elaborate on a multidisciplinary methodological approach that considers the totality of land-based social relations engendered by the land use changes being driven by agro-food capital (Akram-Lodhi, 2013). This approach regards farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and society, which in this case have been structured in a particular white-settler colonial context.
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    #AllAfricanlivesMatter: Race, Gender, and the Relevance of Global Pan-African Solidarity
    (2016-11-17) Daley, P.
    The talk will situate the emerging black lives matter movements in the USA and UK in the historical Pan-African struggle for African liberation, and asks why does the current movement seem to have so little visible support on the African continent, especially in the light of the African diaspora being the African Union 6th region and in the midst of the UN’s international decade for people of African descent. Drawing on research in feminist geo-politics, Critical Race Theory, and Pan-African and decolonial thought, and will explore the continued coloniality of contemporary existence by exploring how racialized and gendered hierarchies have been central to the building and maintenance of the global political and economic order – even under the supposed ‘racelessness’ of neo-liberalism. These have been brought to the fore with the Trump victory in the USA. Cross–continental commonalities in the de-humanization of African lives will be examined using a brief illustration of the approaches to sexual violence against women racialized as black on the continent and in the African diaspora. The discussion will conclude with a discussion of how an emancipatory de-colonial Pan-African solidarity can be harnessed.
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    The Construction of a “Tipping” Historiography: The 4th Republic and the Public
    (2016-11-10) Odamtten, H.N.K.; Ntewusu, S.
    This presentation is an examination of various moments of Ghana’s collective anxiety about its political future. It offers a historiographical analysis of the discourse or commentary regarding these moments of political tension that had or have the potential to descend the country into a den of conflagration, genocide, civil war or ethnic strife as we have recently witnessed elsewhere in Africa. Using Ghana’s own history of Coup d’état’s and military interventions in three constitutional governments as background, it examines how the media, politicians, civic groups, public intellectuals, political parties, musicians and others in the public sphere have engaged election cycles in Ghana’s 4th Republic. It identifies the moments of tension, whiles discussing how the public arena has dealt with the moments of anxiety through publications like “The Stolen Verdict” and the more recent “Pink Sheet” encounter between the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Supreme Court.
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    “‘My Wife, My Sister, My Mother’: Women in Parliament in Ghana”
    (2016-11-03) Bauer, G.
    At present, women are 10.9 percent of members of parliament and Ghana ranks 150th of 187 ranked countries worldwide in terms of women in a single or lower house of parliament. By contrast, more than a dozen African countries have more than 30 percent women in their parliaments, with Rwanda leading the world with 64 percent women. This seminar reveals how such high percentages of women members of parliament have been accomplished in other African countries and what substantive and symbolic representation effects of more women in African parliaments have been identified. Using recent interview and other material, the seminar examines the challenges facing women candidates for and members of parliament in Ghana. The seminar offers lessons for Ghana from other African countries, in terms of increasing women’s political representation and leadership.
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    "It’s Your Story-Don’t Lose It"
    (2016-10-27) Collins, J.; Avorgbedor, D.; Nketia, J.H.K.
    Audiovisual resources such as field recordings, commercial recordings, radio and television programmes, etc., captured on sound and image media, contain the primary multi-disciplinary records of the 20th and 21st centuries. According to a UNESCO report (2015), audiovisual documents have transformed society by becoming a permanent complement to the traditional written record. However, they are extremely vulnerable. Much of the world’s audiovisual heritage has already been irrevocably lost through neglect, destruction, decay and the lack of resources, skills and structures, thus impoverishing the memory of mankind. UNESCO further stresses that much more of audiovisual heritage will be lost if stronger and concerted international action is not taken. It was in this contest that the UNESCO General Conference in 2005 approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken in safeguarding this heritage as well as acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity. This year’s theme is: “It’s Your Story – Don’t Lose it”. The roundtable discussions will be centred around the proposed theme as well other issues – such as repatriation, best practices and Intellectual Property Rights/Copyright - relating to audiovisual heritage preservation and access in Ghana. The format and contents of the Roundtable discussion encourage and welcome contributions from the audience.
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    “Between Two Fires: a Biography of Nana Amoani, Nawuri Kankpe Shrine Priest, 1870s-1981”
    (2016-10-20) Ntewusu, S.; Amoani, F.K.
    African historiography has long acknowledged the impact of shrines, traditional priests and African Saints/ancestors in communities. In Ghana shrines and priests have been behind the fullness of life and the freedom that existed and still exists in most societies. In spite of these roles, the social and cultural changes that have transformed populations in Ghana seem to negatively affect the status and contribution of priests and shrines. Using mostly oral interviews and archival sources, I present the biography of one of the traditional priest in Ghana whose tenure of office lasted for over fifty years. I shall focus on the ever changing nature of the rules of succession to the Kankpe priesthood, and demonstrate that spiritual beliefs and practices associated with the Kankpe shrine guided people’s survival strategies during the reign of Nana Amoani. Finally, through Nana’s life, the presentation will shed some insights on great historical events such as early missionary work, colonialism, ethnicity and the formation/disintegration of chieftaincy and kingdoms in Ghana.
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    “waste management challenges in urban ghana: some field observations from the techiman township”
    (2016-10-13) Alhassan, O.; Addo, I.A.; Kutor, S.; Abokyi, S.
    For several years solid waste management has been a major challenge for city authorities in most developing countries including Ghana. Techiman, an urban centre in the Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana, is faced with serious solid waste management issues due to population pressures. The aim of this presentation is to provide an overview of the waste management challenges in Techiman Township and interrogate the institutional arrangements present. Using in-depth interviews, observation, photography and municipal documents, the presentation will highlight the following; 1.Waste management at the household level. 2.Waste management at the commercial level. 3.Institutional arrangements for collection and disposal. 4.Municipal by-laws, policies and plans. The findings reveal that the solid waste generated in Techiman Township is as a result of two main factors; 1.Techiman as a nerve centre for foodstuffs production and thus a large proportion of the waste generated is agricultural waste. 2.The economic position of Techiman as a big market place for North-South trading activities also generates a lot of waste.