In the fall of 2022, I embarked on a project to create an interactive story map that will tell the pre-colonial history of Nzulezo, the only stilt-house community in Ghana (West Africa) and one of the very few in Africa. Nzulezo boasts a long and rich history dating to the mid-eighteenth century when the Atlantic slave trade was at its zenith in West and West-Central Africa. A dense scholarship exists on the slave trade in Africa, particularly Ghana (formerly called the Gold Coast). However, very little is known of Nzulezo and its people, who, like their contemporary pre-colonial West Africans, including the Fon people of Ganvié, weathered the heinous effects of the slave trade. The Mapping Nzulezo project is intended to “insert” the Nzulezo people in the histories of Atlantic West Africa.
This project sparks new discussions about the Nzulezo people’s position in the complicated world of human migrations across pre-eighteenth-century West Africa. It also highlights their ability to adapt to the challenging circumstances of their time, much like other pre-colonial West Africans, such as the Fon people of Ganvié. Please follow the link below to the project.
Drum rooooooollllll…🥁🥁🥁 Mapping Nzulezo
Designing this project, I relied heavily on Dougherty & Ilyankou’s Hands-on Data Visualization, which offers step-by-step approaches for beginners like myself to create interactive Leaflet Story maps with Google Sheets (CSV). I also used Map Warper to adapt images for my project.
Engaging with Mapping Nzulezo, readers will realize that the history of the Nzulezo people does not only speak to critical issues relating to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century cultural exchanges but also tourism in the twenty-first century. The Nzulezo community is currently a prime tourist attraction in Ghana, attracting several thousands of foreigners and locals to the community each year. Mapping Nzulezo hopes to offer prospective tourists well-researched, historical information about the Nzulezo. I hope this project expands the presence of Nzulezo in today’s internet space to potentially increase tourism in the community and Ghana.
Mapping Nzulezo constitutes the beginning of a series of digital scholarship projects that will document different aspects of Nzulezo’s history and its people’s life on the water, including how they have survived on it to date. Do watch out for future projects on Nzulezo!