In Michael Kunke’s short film, Iture – The Estuary, three rivers join forces to wrestle the sea.
By Nana Nyarko Boateng
Ghanaian photographer and filmmaker, Michael Kunke enters Elmina, the first European settlement in West Africa, to zero in at the point where three rivers become one and move into the Atlantic Ocean. In his short film, Iture – The Estuary, Michael tells the story of Iture, an estuary which the community is named after. Iture, according to the locals, is a corrupted version of the word estuary. Filming during low tide, the filmmaker describes Iture, the place where these three rivers, Kakum, Nkontro and the Sweet River, come together to flow into the sea, as a hot bed of life and opposing forces.
“For me, Iture is a hot bed of forces, the force of life, water itself they say is life, these three rivers coming together to become one is forming a new life force to compete with the unrivalled force of the ocean, at low tide the river has the upper hand because it freely flows into the ocean, but at high tide the unbridled strength of the ocean is at full display as it pushes its way deep into the mangrove. The mangrove itself is teeming with life as it soaks up all the rain during heavy downpours in both the Cape Coast and Elmina areas. The swampy nature of the place has become home for a number of birds and aquatic life.”
In his film, Michael contrasts the old against the new, he depicts opposing forces living side by side. We see the old bridge rooted in Iture, dating back to colonial days, cutting through the heart of the swamp to the new bridge. Cars race past each other in opposite directions on the West African Highway held over the estuary. Even the three rivers opposing each other are forced to come together to push against the ocean in the changing tides. Michael’s editing style and camera work is also very unique. For every shot there is a shot moving in the opposite direction to depict the opposing forces present in this area.
Iture, is not only an economic lifeline to Ghana but also to the entire sub region. Elmina which was once Portugal's West African headquarters for trade and exploitation of African wealth, today has fishing and tourism as its main economic activities. The road and bridge spanning across the estuary is an international road that connects Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana to Côte d'Ivoire. This highway that runs from Accra-Cape Coast to Côte d'Ivoire is also known as the West African Highway and essentially serves as the only route to Côte d'Ivoire on the southern side of the country. Kunke is currently working on a new short film titled Grey Walls which tells the story of the transatlantic slave trade from the perspective of a slave dungeon.
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