Keta Lagoon: Uncovering Suppressed Heritage Practices for Sustainable Wetland Management


  • Jonathan Bill Doe Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg image/svg+xml




Current efforts to integrate heritage practices in the sustainable management of wetlands in postcolonial nation-states assume that these practices have always existed in the forms they are now. The colonial order, whether deliberately or otherwise, suppressed many local traditional practices. The postcolonial authority’s adoption of Western science invariably continued the suppression, albeit in a more liberal form. In the Ramsar Convention, natural scientists were assigned the role of conserving wetlands ‘‘for the benefit of humankind in a way compatible with the maintenance of natural properties of the ecosystem.’’ This became known as the wise use principle. This article highlights the history of the Keta wetlands and proposes an integration of key knowledge holders into management plans for a wise use of wetlands in postcolonial states. The colonial and postcolonial regimes made the knowledge holders invisible. Modern imaginaries – Western legal institutions, Western science and Christianity – were privileged over local heritage practices. It therefore requires historical and heritage expertise to uncover local sustainable knowledge for integration into the Ramsar management plan, hence a wise use of wetlands in postcolonial states.

How to Cite

Doe, J. B. (2022). Keta Lagoon: Uncovering Suppressed Heritage Practices for Sustainable Wetland Management. Blue Papers, 1(2), 142–149.





methodologies and case studies


Akyeampong, Emmanuel Kwaku. 2001. Between the Sea and the Lagoon: An Eco-Social History of the Anlo of Southeastern Ghana c. 1850 to Recent Times. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Amenumey, D.E.K. 2008. Ghana: A Concise History from Pre-Colonial Times to the 20th Century. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services.

Asafu-Adjaye, G. G. 2016. Record of Proceeding and Judgement in the Proposed Keta Lagoon Forest Reserve. Ho: Public Records and Archives Administration Department, (PRAAD), DA-4-453.

Keta District Commissioner. 1914. Memorandum from District Commissioner’s Office to Fia Sri ll of Awunaga (Aŋloga). Memorandum. Ho: Public Records and Archives Administration Department, (PRAAD), KE-2-184.

Doe, Jonathan Bill. 2022. Archaeology of Wetland Commons: Anlo Adaptive Management of Keta Lagoon. Research Series CultEnviroTech – Epistemic Cultures of Technology and Environment (Wissenskulturen Technik und Umwelt) II.

Elliott, Kevin C. 2017. “The Plasticity and Recalcitrance of Wetlands.” In Research Objects in their Technological Setting, edited by C. Bensaude-Vincent, S. Loeve, A. Nordmann and A. Schwarz, 136–49. New York: Routledge.

Tufour, K. 1999. Keta Lagoon Complex Management Plan. Prepared for Ghana Wildlife Commission.

Ghana Museums and Monuments Board. n.d. “Fort Prinzensten, Keta.” Accessed May 2, 2021.

Ministry of Lands and Forestry. 1999. Managing Ghana’s Wetlands: a National Wetland Conservation Strategy. Policy brief.

Nukunya, G. K. 1969. Kinship and Marriage Among the Anlo Ewe. London: Athlone Press.