Ph.D. Student Akua Banful Featured in the LA Review of Books
December 15, 2021
ON APRIL 4, 2021, two mammal parties, one human, the other dolphin, had an encounter. Ankobra, on Ghana’s Western coast, is a resort town, and that particular morning, the beach was teeming with humans enjoying the holiday weekend; it was Easter Sunday, after all. The humans were dancing, laughing, playing soccer. The mood among the dolphins, I imagine, was more somber: a party that large, in waters that shallow, in April of all months, was a sign of unholy activities out at sea. That fateful morning, close to 200 dolphins and an uncounted number of other marine species beached at Ankobra and its environs. What ensued was, quite literally, a feeding frenzy.
Before I proceed to tell you what happened, I must pause and remind you that this essay’s title is not idle: nobody likes dolphin meat, but times are hard. None of the people in this story, whose names I could not capture, set out to become eaters of dolphins. For many coastal peoples, there are taboos surrounding the consumption of dolphins, sea turtles, and whales; for those whose cosmologies contain no such prohibitions, culinary avoidance has historically been a question of taste: the consensus is that sentiment and spirituality aside, dolphins don’t taste great. Many people, given a choice, would rather eat something else that is actually, technically, a fish. With that said, I resume my telling.