Meet The Locals

SEI is made up of a fantastic team of volunteers who dedicate countless hours and effort in transforming ideas to reality in spreading the surf safety message within Australia and internationally.

Matthew Etruow

Age: 28 
Location: Cape Coast 
Occupation: Shop owner 
Hobbies: Cooking, playing football, reading and watching Arsenal games

Tell us about drowning in Cape Coast 
It's a tragedy for the whole community. When somebody drowns, we all rush to the ocean where they have been pulled in. If we see someone is drowning we will all gather on the beach. Someone will try to save them and that someone depends on who is at the beach. If the fishermen are there they will try, otherwise someone who is a good swimmer will try. Let's say one afternoon that I'm playing football and I see someone drowning. I will try to swim out to the person to help bring them in.

The people who are drowning at the beach in Cape Coast are mostly Ghanaians who live inland, away from the sea. They move to Cape Coast to receive education and to work and they are drawn down to the sea. They do swimming but they have no experience in swimming or at the sea which makes the ocean deadly for them.

Do you feel responsible for those people who come to your community and use the ocean? 
Sometimes. We are all familiar with the water so we should advise the visitors where to go and how to swim. Sometimes we blame ourselves if someone dies in the sea

Would you welcome lifeguards on the main beach in Cape Coast? 
It is a nice idea because if you are swimming and there is a lifeguard around you feel safe. If there is someone in a deadly situation you have people who can help and save the person. I think we need it on our beaches to stop people dying in the sea.

Kofi Acquah

Age: 21 
Location: Busua 
Occupation: Has worked at the Black Star Surf Shop for three years 
Hobbies: Surfing and skateboarding

Who uses the beach at Busua? 
Everyone in the community uses the beach. Fishermen use it to find food, tourists come to swim, and locals surf and play football on the beach.

Have you ever had to perform a rescue in the ocean? 
I was surfing and I saw five or six people swimming in a strong current. The current pulled one of them down the beach towards the rocks. I could hear shouting and I saw that the person was struggling and was in trouble. I paddled out to the person with my surfboard and I placed them on my board, waited until the current calmed down and bought the person in when it was safe.

Do you think an ocean safety program would benefit the community? 
It would benefit the community as there would be no more deaths in the sea. We need education for the community and for the tourists so people will know where is safe and where is dangerous to swim. Most of all we need lifeguards to always be on the beach so that people who are in trouble can be saved quickly.

Paajoe Quansah

Age: 30 
Location: Kokrobite 
Occupation: 'The everything man' and pseudo lifeguard at Big Millys Resort, professional Tour Guide 
Hobbies: Hanging out at the beach and going to church

How did you learn to swim? 
My mother trafficked me as a child slave to work for fishermen in Akosombo, Ghana, where there is a river. I worked there for seven years. I was forced to swim to the bottom of the river to remove the fishing nets from sharp tree branches and other things at the bottom of the ocean. It was incredibly dangerous as it is easy to get caught and stuck at the bottom of the river.

Tell us about the beach conditions 
The *holes on the beach are sometimes good and sometimes bad. People are to know where the holes are at the beach. A lot of people think they can swim in the holes but the holes are very strong and can take you easily as the water is rough. The hole is very very dangerous. The people should swim where they can stand. I've seen a lot of people swim in a hole and they have been taken out by the hole and they have died.

*'holes' is a local term for a rip

How many people have you saved? How do you save them? 
I have saved about 40 people in two years. To save the person, I swim around the back of the person and calm them down. I then swim with the person and push them to the shore.

When do most people drown at Kokrobite? 
On public holidays. Easter Monday is very bad; there are too many people on the beach and no one to look over them. Six people died this year on Easter Monday.

For more information on Paajoe and his tour guides within Ghana see his website: