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May 2017 Field ​Study
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Megan Reed


Megan Reed

Aggie Law Class of 2018

Land Use Conflicts and Access to Justice

Akosombo, Volta River, and courts in Accra
by Megan Reed


Megan Reed with kids and snapchatBlogger 3L Megan Reed and children in the town of Akosombo having fun with Snapchat filters

During our last few days in Ghana, we traveled to Akosombo for a one night trip. We met with a Ghanaian chief on our first day there.

While we were in the village later that day, we had the opportunity to hang out with some of the children. At first, some of the children were scared of me because they have never seen someone with blue eyes, blonde hair, and white skin. Luckily, I was able to win them over when we started playing with different filters on Snapchat.

That night, we stayed at a hotel on the Volta River that had such a beautiful view.

Ghana view of Volta Dam from hotelView of the Akosombo Dam and Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area, from the Volta Hotel

The next day, we went to tour the hydro plant on the Volta River. The Henry J. Kaiser Company, an American firm of consulting engineers, developed the engineering plans for the power station. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but they allowed us to tour the control room, where they had about four or five men working. We were also able to go down below the hydro plant and see all the equipment.

Once we went back outside, we ventured around the back of the dam. The water level was so low, even though it was supposed to be the rainy season. Some think this is due to global warming.

We also happened to run into some Texas A&M students from the undergrad campus that were also touring the plant!

After that, we headed back to Accra, the capital of Ghana.

The next day, we woke up bright and early to meet up with an attorney from legal aid. We had the opportunity to sit in on criminal court, which was an awesome experience.

There were quite a few differences from American courts that I noticed:

  • The defendants did not wear handcuffs.
  • Most of the defendants were not represented by attorneys.
  • The judge sentenced some of the defendants to “manual labor.” In fact, prisoners were outside the courthouse cutting the grass with machetes.
  • The judge spoke directly to a defendant’s wife that was in the courtroom without her being sworn in as a witness.
  • The attorneys and the judges wear wigs.

There were also some similarities I noticed:

  • The judges write lengthy opinions, stating the law and detailing the rationale for the judgment.
  • The appellate court had a specific standard of review.
  • The laws were separated into elements.
  • The defendants were present when their case was being handled.
  • There were uniformed guards in the courtroom.
Unfortunately, because we couldn’t have our phones in court, there are not many pictures from this day.

The prison was right across from the criminal court, but sadly, we did not have the opportunity to go in to the prison for bureaucratic reasons.

The legal aid attorney was gracious enough to come on our bus and talk with us for about thirty minutes. He is the only legal aid attorney in Accra that does criminal law, so I can’t even imagine the endless hours that he works. I was truly inspired by this attorney, and I wish we would have had the opportunity to spend more time with him.

Overall, this was an amazing couple of days in Ghana. We experienced so many new cultural aspects while also learning about the law.
Megan Reed with Senchi Chief3L Megan Reed and her classmates met with the Senchi chief
Aggie Law group at Volta DamTexas A&M Law Global Field Trip group at the Volta River hydro plant
low water at Volta Dam in GhanaLow water level at the Akosombo Dam in southeastern Ghana
Nsawam Prison in Accra GhanaNsawam Prison in Accra
Ghana Winn with children2L Taylor Winn sharing fruit with children in the village
TAMU Law & TAMU undergrads in Ghana Global Aggie Network: The group from Texas A&M School of Law ​ran into a group of Texas A&M University undergrads while touring the ​Akosombo Dam in Ghana's Eastern region.