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Land is a key resource for African women, a resource on which their income and livelihoods depend. Most women rely on land for their livelihoods and are responsible for a good proportion of agricultural production. In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up nearly 50% of agricultural workers. But many are either landless or have limited and insecure rights to land. The central role that rural women play in agriculture means that the insecurity of their land rights threatens their well-being—and that of their children and communities.

For rural women, access and control of land resources can lead to wealth, while lack of access and control can lead to poverty. Securing women’s land rights is therefore important for improving the status of women in society as well as improving general economic and social development.

When they are not fighting for land, women are more likely to invest money, labour, and other resources in farm activities that can earn them an income. They are also more likely to preservethe land they farm by practicing environmentally-friendly farming methods that save water and keep the soil healthy. Indeed, an increasing amount of research is finding that including women in political decision-making about land-based resources can result in better use and management of resources because women bring new ideas and fresh perspectives on ways that resources can be managed.

Traditionally, most African communities grant men total control of land and discriminate against women owning and controlling land. Women are able to access land only through male relatives. This results in conflicts over land and in resolutions of these conflicts that burden women.

In 2020, women are still disadvantaged in their access to land and their ability to make decisions on the land they use. Much more needs to be done by women and their allies to successfully demand their rights. Some progress has been made. There are now more policies, land laws, and constitutions that promote secure land rights for women. But many of these measures have not been fully implemented. A greater political push is needed to ensure that women are placed at the centre of land use and management in their communities.

In this drama, the women of a fictional community called Adiepena have poor access to land. Faced with many uncertainties, they can only farm on lands given to them by men. But the women come togetherwith determination to fight. They learn about their right to own lands and take the necessary steps to gain their independence from the men. The play focuses on educating women on how to register their lands through deed registration. The women also learn about the family land system and how to lawfully acquire family lands and to secure their lands by registering them at the District Lands Commission.

Please note that some of the scenes in this drama contain very detailed information about owning, registering, and selling land in Ghana. If you air this drama, you should modify it to align with the laws and customs where you live, and also invite an expert on these issues in your country to speak and respond to questions from listeners about the subjects covered in the drama.

You could use this drama as inspiration to produce a similar program on women’s access to and control of land, and how communities can find solutions. Or you might choose to present the drama as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers.

The drama includes four scenes, varying in length from 2-3 minutes to 8-10 minutes.

Duration of the drama, with intro and outro: 30 minutes

 

Script

Scene 1

SETTING:
AT THE FARM

CHARACTERS:
MAAYAA, LIZ, MR. AZIZ

SFX:
PHONE BEEPING

MAAYAA:
Hello, Maayaa … are you coming? Please hurry up. I’m almost there, and I can see some men, yes … yes … it’s just like Kofi said, they are mining sand on my farm! Okay … please come quick. And call the police!

LIZ:
Ah, what is going on here?

MR. AZIZ:
Are you blind?

LIZ:
No, I’m not, but who gave you permission to do this on my farm?

MR. AZIZ:
Your farm? This land is mine, and I choose to do whatever I want on land that’s mine.

LIZ:
Hoh, it’s now my turn to ask if you are blind! Can’t you see that I have planted maize on this farm? Who gave you permission to take sand from my farmland?

MR. AZIZ:
Stop asking unnecessary questions. It seems you have lost your way, I’m in no mood for this drama. Shoo … I’ve got work to do.

LIZ:
Ooh, you did not just shoo me like a chicken! (SHOUTING) Hey … hey … young man, you better stop that machine before I use my cutlass on you. I’m not afraid to put up a fight. This land feeds my children, it’s my only source of livelihood.

SFX:
HITS CUTLASS ON THE GROUND SEVERAL TIMES. MAAYAA WALKS ONTO THE FARM.

MAAYAA:
Ah … what is going on here?

LIZ:
Maayaa, look. I came to my farm to water my maize seeds only to find this man here, drawing sand from my farm. I told him to stop but he won’t listen. He is testing my patience. Tell him to leave before I swing this cutlass.

MAAYAA:
Oh, please put the cutlass down. Sir, what is your name?

MR. AZIZ:
My name is Aziz, and this land is mine. I actually paid a lot of money to acquire this land. I am a contractor and I mine the sand to build.

LIZ:
Don’t you see that this land has been cleared for farming? Why on earth do you want to destroy my farm? Lazy man, you want to reap where you haven’t sown?

MR. AZIZ:
Watch your tongue, woman!

MAAYAA:
Wait … wait … this is no place to fight. Sir, my name is Maayaa and I’m the leader of the women’s farmers group in this town. This land belongs to Liz, and we don’t appreciate strangers coming into our town to spoil our farm lands.

MR. AZIZ:
With all due respect, madam, I don’t have time for this chit chat. I have to work, please leave!

LIZ:
I’m not going anywhere. You better leave or else …

MR. AZIZ:
Or else what?

MAAYAA:
It’s okay, Liz. This is not the place or time to fight. Come on, let’s go to the District Lands Commission. They will help us solve this problem in no time.

LIZ:
Are you sure?

MAAYAA:
Yes. Come with me, I will show you their office.

LIZ:
Okay (drops the cutlass). You are lucky, I will show you not to mess with this woman!

AZIZ:
(LAUGHS) You can go wherever you want. I can prove that this land is mine!

MAAYAA:
Pay no attention to him. Let’s go!

Scene 2

SETTING:
THE DISTRICT LAND COMMISSION

CHARACTERS:
LIZ, MR. DUAH.

SFX:
KNOCKS ON DOOR ONCE AND ENTERS

MR. DUAH:
Good afternoon, madam.

LIZ:
Good afternoon, sir, my name is Liz and I’m having problems with my land so my friend directed me here.

MR DUAH:
I am Mr. Duah, at your service.

LIZ:
Thank you, sir.

MR. DUAH:
I’m glad you decided to come to the District Lands Commission to see the Regional Lands officer with your land problems. Most people don’t know they need to report their land issues here, but instead they go to their chiefs or even to the police.

LIZ:
My friend told me this is the best place to present my case.

MR. DUAH:
Very good, what then is the problem?

LIZ:
Well, I found a strange man mining sand on my farm and when I confronted him, he said that my farmland is his.

MR. DUAH:
Does he have any proof?

LIZ:
He said he paid a lot of money to the Abusuapanyin (Editor’s note: head of the family) to acquire the land and that it is his now.

MR. DUAH:
He cannot own a land that is already yours. Haven’t you already registered the land in your name?

LIZ:
Erm … no. I don’t have the paper, it’s a family land and I have been allocated my portion.

MR. DUAH:
That’s the problem that comes with farming on a family land.

LIZ:
Abusuapanyin and the elders of my family gave me that portion of land when my grandfather died. It’s my only source of livelihood. I can’t lose it now!

MR. DUAH:
This is why I encourage everyone to own their own land and register their lands properly. I also encourage family members to document any agreement on paper, whether it is a family land or a stool land. (Editor’s note: Stool lands belong to the community and are mainly controlled by the chief, who is the custodian of these lands.) This will provide some evidence of family agreements on land. Once a fraction of the land is given to you, you must register or document it in your name to secure it.

LIZ:
Hmmn …

MR. DUAH:
This ensures the certainty of ownership and establishes rights and interests in the land, so that other people can’t lay claim to your land.

LIZ:
But I could not register the land in my name because women are not permitted to own lands in our town.

MR. DUAH:
By law, this customary practice is not acceptable, and we at the Lands Commission do not condone it. We will be more than happy to assist you to take steps to own your own land and have it registered in your name.

You see, you will benefit immensely by owning your own land and registering it, as it will help you plan and develop your farm. The land papers will also make it easy for you to access credit and help facilitate land transfers and make the documents acceptable in court.

LIZ:
Mr. Duah, please help me, I don’t want to lose my farmland.

MR. DUAH:
There is a possibility that you won’t lose it.

LIZ:
Really?

MR. DUAH:
Yes, that is if the one who sold the land to this man did it on his own without consulting the Abusuapanyin, the elders, or other key members of the family.

LIZ:
What if the Abusuapanyin sold it?

MR. DUAH:
Abusuapanyin cannot sell your land without your consent and that of the elders. Though the man claims he now owns the land, if you can prove that he did it in isolation, we can cancel his claims and give you back your land.

LIZ:
Great news!

MR. DUAH:
But when all is said and done, don’t forget to do what is needful. Document or register any land you own!

LIZ:
I will do exactly that. Thank you so much for this information. I will do my best to regain my land and register it. Thank you so much, I’m really grateful.

MR. DUAH:
Don’t mention it. Call me if you face any challenges, okay.

LIZ:
Yes, sir, I will, thank you.

MR. DUAH:
Goodbye.

LIZ:
Goodbye, have a lovely day!

Scene 3

SETTING:
AT THE TOWN INFORMATION CENTRE

CHARACTERS:
MAAYAA, NANCY, LIZ, WOMAN 1, WOMAN 2

SFX:
WIND BLOWS SWIFTLY

MAAYAA:
Good morning, women of valour!

CHORUS:
Good morning.

MAAYAA:
I am happy to welcome all of you to this very important meeting. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Madam Nancy Adimado. She is a program coordinator at Women of Knowledge and Justice Foundation in Accra, Ghana. They teach women in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas about their rights under the laws of the country, and how to stand up for their rights and access justice when they are confronted with land grabbing. Today, she is here to help us understand the importance of land registration and how to properly secure your land.

CHORUS:
Ayekoo … Madam Nancy! (Editor’s note: Ayekoo is a greeting in the Twi language that is mostly used when one is involved in activities such as eating, or in some kinds of work, including farming. Yaayeh is the Twi response to Ayekoo.)

NANCY:
Yaayeh … I’m proud to see such a large number of women farmers who are seeking knowledge on how to acquire farmlands. It’s important to understand that to acquire lands, people must be willing to go through the necessary procedures and have the right documentation to protect their property from being taken from them. Who here can tell me some of the vital things that need to be recorded during the process of registering your land?

WOMAN 1:
Me.

NANCY:
Okay, tell us.

WOMAN 1:
The names of those selling the land and the one buying it.

NANCY:
Good, let’s clap for her.

SFX:
APPLAUSE FROM CROWD

NANCY:
Don’t forget also that the witnesses, land surveyor, and lawyer must also record their names, contact details, or address and signatures. Who else has anything to add?

WOMAN 2:
The consideration (Editor’s note: Consideration is the legal term for fee or price of the Land), and the date the money was paid!

NANCY:
Right, very well said. You must also note that the size of the land and the nature of the transaction must be recorded. I’m glad you are well-informed about the topic.

WOMAN 1:
Maayaa taught us well.

NANCY:
That’s good, Maayaa, I’m happy with your work here.

MAAYAA:
Thank you, but there is a lot more to land registration and this is why Madam Nancy is here!

NANCY:
Exactly, I’m here to add to the knowledge you already have.

WOMAN 1:
Yes, please teach us.

NANCY:
The two types of land registrations are the title registration and the deed registration. Today, I will focus on the deed registration, which is currently the type of land registration available in all regions in the country, including a community like Adiepena, except for Greater Accra and Kumasi.

MAAYAA:
Yes, and before we get to the technicalities of getting your deed registration done, it is important to make sure that the land purchased is received from the right source. If the land is a stool land, then the chief and the principal elders must jointly give you permission to buy the land. Don’t purchase land from the chief alone, and don’t purchase the land from an elder in the absence of the chief.

WOMAN 2:
So, both the chief and the principal elders must be present to make the land purchase viable?

MAAYAA:
Exactly!

NANCY:
Even so, you must insist that the chief gives you the land registration number of the stool land, and the stool name. Then you can go and check with the Land Commission to be sure that this land is available and can be given to you without any problems.

WOMAN 2:
What if the land is a family land?

NANCY:
It is basically the same checks—don’t buy the land from one person, make sure to meet the principal elders of the family together with the head of the family or Abusuapanyin, and check the validity of the land with the Land Commission. Always make sure that you deal with the chief and his elders for purchase of stool land and you meet with the head of the family and the principal family members if you want to purchase a family land.

LIZ:
How do we get our land registered by deed?

NANCY:
Good question. The procedure is long, but necessary to secure your land. After the chief allocates the land, whether by purchase or lease, you must have the right documents to prove that the land has been rightfully given to you. The first step is to pay for the land and take your receipt. A correct deed requires a site plan done by the survey and mapping division, a schedule that accurately describes the land, the name and signature of the vendor and purchaser, at least two witnesses, a lawyer’s endorsement, an oath of proof at the superior court, and other documentation which will require the interest being conveyed, five passport sized pictures, and a copy of your ID card.

LIZ:
Wow, so where do I present all these documents?

NANCY:
The main process requires that you submit the deed at the CSAU for stamp duty and pay a presentation fee.

WOMAN 1:
What is the CSAU?

NANCY:
Sorry, the CSAU is the Client Service and Access Unit at the Lands Commission.

WOMAN 1:
Okay, thank you.

NANCY:
The site must then be thoroughly inspected, and then the Land Valuation Division will assess the stamp duty. After this, you can pay for the duty, which will be stamped on the document to indicate the amount paid, which will be collected at the CSAU.

MAAYAA:
Does it go through internal processing after the duty is paid?

NANCY:
Yes, but before this, it is resubmitted for registration with a Tax Clearance certificate, which is done by the Ghana Revenue Authority. You may also be required to pay for plotting and assessment fees at the CSAU, as they carry out their internal processing.

LIZ:
Wow … very eye-opening.

NANCY:
If the land is stool-owned, there are additional processes like payment of ground rent and concurrent certificate by the Regional Chairman of the Lands Commission before the plotting stage.

To finalize this process, the recording and signing by the lawyer at the Land Registration Division is required. When all this is done, you can now collect your deed.

WOMAN 1:
Whew… (LAUGHS) Where do I collect the deed?

NANCY:
At the CSAU at the Lands Commission.

SFX:
APPLAUSE FROM GATHERING

LIZ:
I have learnt so much today and I believe that I will get my land back.

NANCY:
Good. If you win this case, don’t leave things to chance. Make sure to get the deed registration of your land as soon as possible.

LIZ:
That’s exactly what I’ll do.

MAAYAA:
Very good, Liz.

WOMAN 2:
Thank you, Madam Nancy, for taking your time to take us through the deed registration process. We are grateful for your teachings; we promise to make the most of the opportunity given us.

LIZ:
Maayaa, the women of Adiepena are also grateful to you for helping us fight for our rights. We won’t disappoint you!

MAAYAA:
You are welcome. Goodbye everyone, and please make it a point to come and support our sister Liz at the next hearing!

CHORUS:
Okay. Bye bye.

Scene 4

SETTING:
AT THE PALACE

CHARACTERS:
OKYEAME, NANA, MAAYAA, LIZ, ABUSUA, MR. AZIZ, NANCY, ELDERS.

SFX:
SOUND FROM THE LOCAL GONG

OKYEAME:
Koomye … koomye …. (Editor’s note: this means “silence” or “keep quiet.”) Let there be silence in the palace!

Nana welcomes everyone to the palace. He is well aware of the many land conflicts in this town. Let us be attentive to today’s hearing. Nana, speak.

NANA:
Okyeame, call in the next case.

OKYEAME:
Liz and Mr. Aziz, please come forward.

MAAYAA:
Okyeame, please tell Nana I’d like to say something before he proceeds with this case.

OKYEAME:
How many times do I have to tell you to wait until you are called, woman? What right do you have to interrupt the c …

NANA:
Okyeame, let the leader of the women’s group speak. I am listening.

OKYEAME:
(IRRITATED) Well, speak up!

MAAYAA:
Thank you, Nana. I’m humbled by this opportunity. This is about the discriminatory cultural practices on land in Adiepena that disallow women from buying and owning lands. Please, I want to know if my request to change this cultural practice was considered, since it will be very instrumental in dealing with the issues. I wouldn’t want my member to lose the case just because she is a woman …

NANA:
You are very persistent with your request and my elders and I appreciate your hard work and concerns. We have been visited by lawyers and women advocates on this particular issue. Don’t worry, our verdict will be fair and free from any discrimination.

MAAYAA:
Thank you, Nana. The women contribute to the growth and sustenance of this town just as much as the men. We must be taken seriously and given the needed resources too. A family may grant a woman access to land, but we still don’t have control of these lands—we don’t know how long we can use it. It can be taken away from us when we get married, which is very unfair and can affect women’s agricultural activities. We are unable to plan or invest in any technology to improve our farms and lives. If this continues, the majority of the population who are often the women of Adiepena will become famished or remain poor.

NANA:
Well said. The women of Adiepena are lucky to have a brave outspoken leader like you. We will announce our final decision today. Just be patient.

MAAYAA:
Yes, Nana.

NANA:
Liz, is your Abusuapanyin here?

LIZ:
Yes, Nana, he is present!

NANA:
Abusuapanyin, come forward and explain to us why you sold Liz’s land to an outsider.

ABUSUA:
Nana, I sold the land because Liz had not been to the farm for almost three years, and it is not good for the land to be bare for so long. So, I sold it.

NANA:
Is this true, Liz?

LIZ:
Yes, Nana, I haven’t had the strength to work on my farm for a while because my pregnancy was a bit complicated and I’m still weaning my child.

NANA:
Mr. Aziz, you bought a farmland to mine sand?

AZIZ:
Yes, Nana. The Abusuapanyin told me the land hasn’t been in use for sometime. I didn’t know it was someone’s farm.

NANA:
Well, did you consult any of the family members before the land purchase?

AZIZ:
(HESITANTLY) No, Nana.

NANA:
Did you ask to see the chief?

AZIZ:
No, please.

NANA:
Well, I see you have receipts of your transaction. However, the transaction is not valid since the family head did not consult the principal members of the family, and that must be done before you can purchase a family land. He needs also the consent of the family member occupying the land.

AZIZ:
But, Nana, I already paid for the land and I really need the sand for my construction work. Please pardon me, I will be careful next time. Besides, the woman doesn’t have any documentation to prove her ownership.

LIZ:
Well, I may not have any documents, because Adiepena has customary practices that don’t allow me to own the land, but I do have the backing of my family and the principal members of the family will testify that this land is mine.

NANA:
Are the elders of Liz’s family here?

ELDERS:
We are here, Nana.

NANA:
Did you elders agree to the sale of Liz’s land?

ELDER 1:
No, Nana. Abusuapanyin mentioned it to us briefly, but most of us disagreed with him. We don’t know why he went ahead to sell the land. He didn’t get our approval.

NANA:
Abusua, is this true?

ABUSUA:
I’m sorry, Nana, I needed the money to pay for my son’s education fees at the university.

LIZ:
Ah, so Abusua, you sacrificed the bread and butter of my home to send your son to school? What stopped you from selling your own part of the land? This is so unfair, Nana.

NANA:
Abusua, it is selfish of you to sell off another person’s land to cater for your son.

ABUSUA:
I’m sorry, Nana.

LIZ:
Don’t apologize to me, apologize to Liz!

ABUSUA:
I’m sorry, Liz, this won’t happen again, please forgive me. I will give you part of my land to farm on. Please take it.

LIZ:
No, Nana, I don’t want his land. Please give me back my land!

NANA:
Well, my elders and I have heard enough! First of all, it is wrong for Abusua to sell family land without the consent of his elders. Aziz should have made it a point to consult the Abusuapanyin and principal elders of the family before buying the land. That land is for farming and not for sand mining. Aziz, if you had consulted us, we would have given you a good land suitable for that kind of activity. Abusua!

ABUSUA:
Yes, Nana.

NANA:
You must refund this man’s money to him or give him another piece of land, with the consent of your elders. Your land, the one situated after the Adiepena river, is well-suited for his activities.

AZIZ:
Nana, please re-consider …

NANA:
My decision is final. Liz’s land is a farmland and will remain as such. I won’t permit you to destroy a good farm land that benefits her family and the entire community! Go and resolve your issue with Abusua and the principal members of his family. If they agree to give you a different land, consult me to check and approve the land before you commence work.

LIZ:
Thank you, Nana! You are very wise. Thank you!

NANA:
Liz hasn’t registered her land because the customary laws of Adiepena do not permit her to own land as a woman. But that changes from today!

SFX:
WOMEN CHEER!

NANA:
Starting from today, the women in this town, in accordance with the laws of our country, can own lands and property.

SFX:
APPLAUSE FROM CROWD! WOMEN CHEER!

OKYEAME:
Nana, how can we accept such a declaration? The women outnumber the men, and there aren’t enough lands to spare. Do our women even have the money to buy and own lands?

NANA:
Okyeame, it doesn’t matter if the women have money to buy lands or not. What matters is that the women now have the same opportunity to access lands as the men. Not all of them can buy lands, but it doesn’t mean that we must shut the doors to those who can. We have taken this decision and it is effective from today. I therefore encourage all the men and women in this town to work together to improve their lives and families. I encourage the women to make the most of this opportunity. Before we close this meeting, Madam Nancy will educate us briefly on how to correctly register acquired lands.

NANCY:
Thank you, Nana. I am very happy today. My message is simple: know who to go to when acquiring a land.

Always deal with the stool occupants—the chief—and principal elders when buying stool lands. Always deal with the head of the family and principal family members when buying a family land. Always conduct a search at the Lands Commission to be sure of the land ownership and the type of land before making payment. Always obtain a receipt for all payments made at the Lands Commission. Lastly, always deal with the officials at the Lands Commission to avoid being defrauded. Thank you, Nana, for this opportunity.

NANA:
Very insightful! Thank you, Madam Nancy. We have come to the end of today’s meeting! Meeting is adjourned!

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Abena Dansoa Ofori Amankwa, script writer and Director at Eagles Roar Creatives.

Reviewed by: Lois Aduamah, Programme Officer, Women in Law and Development (WILDAF) in Ghana.

Information Sources

Mequasa.com, undated. Land Title Registration in Ghana.

https://meqasa.com/blog/land-title-registration-ghana/

Government of Ghana. Land Title Registration Act, 1986, PNDCL152. https://opencontentghana.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/gha6287.pdf (for title registration)

Government of Ghana. Land Registry Act, 1962, Act 122. Downloadable at https://landwise.resourceequity.org/records/1578 (for deed registration)

 

Interviews:

Bruce Lilian J. Authur, Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL) Ghana, November 2019

Lois Aduamuah, Programme Officer, Women in Law and Development (WILDAF) in Ghana, November 2019

Comfort Lamley Sakey, farmer. Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Paulina Abozo, farmer, Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Sarah Ahele, farmer, Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Vida Sackey, farmer, Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Regina Bredu, farmer, Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Grace Larby, farmer, Kojo Ashong community, Amasaman, November, 2019

Papa Sampson Lamptey, Liason Officer, Ga West Municipal Assembly, Amasaman area, November, 2019

Samuel Yaw Ofori, Agriculturist, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Suhum-Ghana, December 2019

This resource is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.