The Healing At Wli – By Kofi Akpabli

There is something at Wli Waterfall that connects with the soul. Something surreal and yet so real. Something soothing that snaps a bouquet of emotions. It makes you thirst to see the water again. It makes you hunger for nature’s food for thought.

This craving led me to the Waterfall, again. This time I was alert to unravel the mystery of Wli. I went with a critical observational stance. That ‘oh, it’s just another waterfall attitude.’ But at the end I bowed, as I was bowled over by the spectacle.

The magic lies in witnessing tons and tons of water thunder down in an awesome, perpetual splash. This splash engulfs a large circumference creating a calming, cold-room of an atmosphere. By being there one is odorised with a refreshing spray of white water. This, added to the music of the water-rush in a lush forest creates a Garden-of-Eden effect.

Situated in the Hohoe District of the Volta Region, Wli Waterfall is the highest in West Africa. It falls from a breathtaking height of about 70m. If you are interested in relational statistics that is the height of 30 soccer goal-posts put one on top of the other.

But my interest was not in heights. My interest was in the depth of the magical experience.  And what a deep one it was. The water cascaded between what appears to be two huge blocks of hills standing shoulder to shoulder. Geologists would tell you these form part of the Akwapim-Togo Range… whatever. If you ask me, it’s like a gigantic book of wonders that has been opened to stand on its base, in the middle pours the water. (If you split my head this is the image you will find in my mental video).

When the wind blew, it blew a gust of refreshing dew across my face seeping into my skin. I was wet yet I wanted more. My T-shirt hugged my body. There was no complaining. Without tasting it, I could sense the cool sweetness of the water.

Still rooted to the ground, I looked up, a mere mortal interrogating a mighty phenomenon. I could only wonder. What does this sight look like when it is midnight and the sun has gone to bed? What would the effect be when the moon strikes the water with her light? Would a rainbow appear? Through the course of time, how many souls have beheld this display? How many more would?

Only one other mortal was close by, Prosper my tour guide. This man has seen this scene a thousand times. But what does it mean to him? Beyond the daily drudgery and his desire to pay his only daughter’s JHS fees, has Prosper ever stood to search his soul in this temple of nature?  Standing at a respectable distance he was only accompanying another tourist. If this was a shrine Prosper is the one who would hold the sacrifice. On our way here it was all talk. But now I have no question for him. I wondered if he understood my silence.

I remained upright. My chin was up in the air and my head dropped in the opposite direction. I watched and I watched. The water kept falling and falling. And with a forceful rapidity too. It was a never-ending rhythm; a great mass of water thundering down, followed by a great mass of water thundering down, followed by a great mass of water thundering down

I thought I would be raptured up to meet the plunging grandeur in one blissful embrace. I had a strange feeling that something was about to appear.  A face above the source of the water, a mystical face looming large and high.  For one moment, I felt like an Israelite waiting for Moses to descend after a face-to-face with God. The earthly truth is that what is above is another waterfall, too high for my mortal eyes to behold. (Wli actually consists of two parts, the fall proper and an upper section which cannot be seen at ground level).

Still standing in the shadows of the mighty fall I beheld another spectacle.  Far above, and glued to the hills, a battalion of bats had taken position. They were there as if they were not. Hundreds of them, all motionless. No flapping, no flying, no floating. They clung to the cliffs as if captured in a time capsule. I believed they were throating out some sounds. But oh, no. No sound could rise above the gushing of the Great Cascade.

I dropped my gaze only for my eyes to find another feast at the foot of the mountain, an inviting pool. This has been created as the water hits the ground. Because the fall’s vertical journey is over a great height the water actually breaks up into a white spray before collecting once more in the swimming pool below. As it does that, strong winds created by the uproar within the gorge spray the water on the visitor (same way a priest dispenses holy water to a congregation).  

One such spray touched me and I thought of simulating the sign of the cross. I didn’t but I still felt healed, de-toxified. Suddenly, my fibroid of stress loosened off and rolled away. The (city accumulated) affliction brought about by polluted air, car fumes, open gutters, plastic waste, rubbish heaps, irritating noise and hustling human parasites was no more. I felt empty and stress-less.

If standing before the eternal libation was my theatre of treatment, the walk from the Receptive Centre to the waterfall itself is the first aid. Thing about Wli is that before the experience you have been prepared. There is a warm up of a long winding walk under rain forest canopies. Tree shades totally block the sun and the sky. This trek takes about 40 invigorating minutes. It involves crossing nine bridges that span small streams, some migrating from Togo.

What this therapy walk does is exercise the limbs and strengthen the heart. The visitor inhales fresh, oxygen-rich air. As you walk over fallen leaves, you hear the roar of the waterfall. Additionally, the cries of forest animals serenade you. If you are lucky a butterfly or two will touch your body with a kiss.

At certain turns you are actually teased with a glimpse of the water from afar.  When you eventually appear before the waterfall, there is nothing more natural than to intercourse with nature. If you reached orgasm it would only be human.

The writer is author of: Tickling the Ghanaian-Encounters with Contemporary Culture and A Sense of Savannah-Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana. Read more from kofi visit 

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