11-Jul-2009 -- Under an overcast sky the rusty gates of the African gold mine swung open. Two vehicles left the compound in a cloud of secrecy; little spoken of the journey north. Weeks earlier, a different vehicle had left the same mine and travelled a similar route. This time two vehicles would reach the end of the road, passengers would board a pre-arranged local boat and travel over water to a town as old as Ghana itself.
Many years had now been spent planning the confluence where 8° North parallel and the Prime Meridian meet, one of approximately 40 of 180 prime confluences on Earth's land mass. Recent intelligence had indicated that at least four other confluence teams have been planning for the 8N honour.
Reconnaissance had also played a part. The journey via Tamale considered too far, the vehicular ferry across the Volta Lake via Yegi too daunting, an eastern attempt bordered on the extreme. Leaving only one route, a 90-km badly maintained track that was once a main arterial link to Kete Krachi. Long before one of the world's largest manmade lakes filled to the overflow, the rite of passage for motor vehicles cut off for all time.
Joseph Dadzie alias 'The Mercedes Driver', Roger and Maria Bain, the N.Z. safety professionals and more recently from a Zambian copper mine, Patrick J O'Brien, once known as the Toe-Cutter, Tara Bendeich alias 'TJ or Tower Jumper', and Kel Bendeich 'the Bull-Necked Prussian' were joined by Anita Tareb, the group's spiritual leader, and Dan Michaelsen also known by his saintly and spiritual name of 'Bofana'. Now as the cars drove north towards Techiman, all aware of the schedules of connecting boats and vehicles required for success. If other teams had planned this weekend and were using this day for travelling, this party was in a position to travel and conquer the target on the same day.
From Atebubu the asphalt road turned from gravel to mud. Recent monsoon rains across the region left no option than to engage four-wheel drive and manoeuvre through the waters of swollen creeks and one time culverts. Averaging just 25 km/h, the journey went to the point of being ruined when a majestic waterway came into view. This lake formed from blocking the rivers of White and Black Voltas.
As planned the local boat crew was ready and soon loaded the supplies of the expedition. The old Yamaha outboard spluttered from a cocktail of kerosene and benzene with just a hint of dieseline from an older plastic fuel tank. The now very tight schedule hinged on the crossing and several minutes passed before all cylinders roared into life. With the expedition members onboard, the young captain spun the rudder in a north easterly direction.
Once back on dry land, two cars had been arranged by the local clergyman. We were later to learn that the paster also had connections with Anita, our spiritual advisor, and Dan, our patron saint. Our interpretation of our Saint Bofana lost in the translations of Twi and the Aussie / Kiwi dialect. The confused holy man had two of his best flock dressed as taxi drivers and he ushered all into what would have to be, two of the better horseless carriages in the village. The expedition moved closer and into the bowels of the tropical heat.
Roger (now known as Roger-Roger) had stopped his hansom cab on a straight stretch of track on the 8° North parallel. Roger-Roger soon had a fix on the 000 confluence. Only thick jungle vegetation lay between success and failure. Even before the 2nd vehicle arrived, Mrs Roger-Roger was kitted out and ready to slash through the jungle green. A final fix and the first steps into the jungle made. Slashing, parting, panting, cursing, and the party disappeared. The nautical miles now reduced to feet, 750 to 500 to 250, the thick vines becoming denser as inches rolled off the Garmin. A corn farm, a local farmers plot, a few square inches of Africa and the confluence of 8N 00 Prime Meridian claimed.