How to Plan Your Trip to Afrochella Festival in Accra, Ghana

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Afrochella, now in its third year, is a one-day festival in Accra, Ghana celebrating Africa’s diverse culture, from cuisine to contemporary art, as well as the vibrant work of African creatives and entrepreneurs. This year, it promises to be bigger than ever, with a jam-packed schedule of live music, exhibitions, and more. The programming aligns with the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019,” an initiative set forth by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to North America in 1619, and encourages those of African descent to make the journey back home.

The theme of this year’s Afrochella, which will take place on December 28 at the El Wak Stadium, is “Diaspora Calling,” and will highlight the process of various African cultures transcending across borders without losing their heritage, through events like the Afrochella Talks conversation seriesfeaturing panels discussions with the likes of artist Adjo Kisser and photographer Amarachi Nwosu. Last year, the festival had over 10,000 attendees and this year’s event will be the official closing for Ghana’s Year of Return.

Here’s what you need to know about the festival—and how to plan a trip to Ghana to experience Afrochella for yourself.

What to know before you go

If you are traveling to Ghana for the first time, check the travel entry requirements before booking flights, as everyone needs a yellow fever vaccination card to enter the country. U.S. citizens will also need a visa in advance: To apply, fill out an online application on the embassy site (there are both walk-in and mail options). It’s $60 for a single-entry visa, which takes seven to 10 business days to process, or there’s a rush option for $100 total, which you can get within three to five business days after mailing in your application. If you are not a U.S citizen, you should check prior to arrival if your country requires one.

Once you arrive in Accra, be sure to always carry cash as many vendors won’t accept credit cards due to extra fees. We suggest tapping Cherae Robinson, who founded TastemakersAfrica, a travel agency that connect travelers with in-the-know locals all around Africa, to help plan your itinerary. Book a personalized tour or day trip like the Year of Return Cape Coast Experience led by local guide Sebastian Johnson Tettey, and spend a day learning about Ghanian culture through activities including a tour of the Cape Coast castle, a drumming lesson, and a fireside dinner on the beach. Alternatively, turn to one of our travel specialists like Cherri Briggs of Explore Inc. to nail down all of the logistics, or contact Jessica Nabongo, founder of Jet Black and a member of Traveler‘s Women Who Travel advisory board, who can help plan a personalized trip as well.

Scenes from Afrochella

Steve Morris/Courtesy Afrochella

What to know about Afrochella

Abdul Karim Abdullah, Afrochella’s founder and CEO, sees the festival as a way to encourage people to look at Africa as more than just a vacation spot. “It’s a festival celebrating all things African culture and helping to promote awareness and bring business to the African community,” Abdullah says. “It’s a place where African people get to showcase their creativity to the world.”

Leading up to the festival, there will be kickoff events like the Afrochella Talks conversation series, which will be held at various locations throughout Accra. The series is dedicated to discussing the future of African business, the creative industries, music, and food with experts from all industries. If you’re looking to purchase tickets, there are a few options to choose from: general admission is priced at $35, but you can also upgrade to one of the Afrochella Experience packages, which comes with a VIP ticket to the festival, plus access to major events and tours like the Royalty Night New Years Gala and awards ceremony. The events will happen before and after the festival from December 26 through January 3, with prices ranging from $450 to $1800.

Neville Hall, a member of Fool’s Paradise travel group based in the U.S, attended Afrochella for the first time last year and recommends staying in a hotel if you’re a first timer. “I think the Airbnb scene is progressing but you just have to understand and respect that the standards are completely different,” says Hall. “As far as hotels are concerned, Ghana has beautiful luxury hotels.” Some of his favorites are the Movenpick and Villa Monticello.

What to do during Afrochella

Don’t miss the At a Glance photo exhibit by the Nigerian photographer Amarachi Nwosu, which showcases the transforming narratives on slavery and will take viewers on a journey through Cape Coast Castle, where thousands of slaves were held by western colonizers along the coast. While you’re there, be sure to check out the graffiti exhibit by Ghanian street artist Mohammed Awudu and live painting by artist Dennis Owusu-Ansah.

Musical performances, meanwhile, will start around 6 p.m. with seven crowd-sourced artists performing in a Rising Star Challenge. The headliner will go on around 11 p.m. The official festival line up will be released to the public later this month.

Accra, Ghana

Accra’s Makola Market

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What to do in Accra

Take a trip to the center of the city to visit Makola Market, a massive bazaar built in colonial times that’s considered the economic heart of Accra. There, you can shop and bargain for clothing, local produce, snacks from food stalls, and get custom-made clothing and jewelry.

When you’re ready to take a break, head over to the popular Labadi Beach, which is still within the city limits. There are dozens of bars and food stalls where you can dine on local favorites like fufu, spicy kebabs, and jollof rice. Kick back and watch the sunset until the beach turns into a huge nightlife hub filled with live bands and bonfires. The Afrochella team has also put together a list of recommendations, with nightlife options like Republic, The Soho Bar and Twist.

Cape Coast Castle

Cape Coast Castle, which once served as a holding cell for enslaved people

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What to do beyond Accra

Along the Gold Coast of Ghana, approximately three hours away from Accra, you’ll find numerous ancient castles and forts. Among them is the well-known Cape Coast Castle, which is now a museum and historical site. It was a major hub for the development of the slave trade and served as a holding cell for enslaved people before they were shipped off to different countries, never to return home again. When visiting Ghana, it’s important to understand the history and suffering Ghanaians faced to truly appreciate how far the beautiful country has come—and with the help of festivals like Afrochella, many of Ghana’s descendants are finally returning home.

 

Source: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-to-plan-your-trip-to-afrochella-festival-in-accra-ghana?fbclid=IwAR0trUs5ycm4ofo9CFGIh2wP6X7iaQ50KV1q44gff_3WjhWi1UeBxUsB3uU

Your Survival Guide While in Ghana for Year of Return

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Written by Ivy Prosper

The anticipation when you land at Kotoka International Airport is like no other.  The feeling that you’ve arrived home is one way many have described it. Undoubtedly when you walk out of the plane and feel that warm tropical West African sun on your face, you know that ‘you’ve arrived’.  

As you make your way through the airport you’re already thinking about everything you plan on doing while you’re in Ghana. Remember that being in another country, there are a number of things you have to consider.  It’s not going to be similar to being back home. Be patient and willing to adapt to the environment. It will make your visit much more pleasant.  

There are a few key things to note during your stay in Ghana.  When it comes to currency, in Ghana it’s the Cedi (pronounced ‘see-dee’).  There are 100 pesewas to one Cedi (Just as there are 100 pennies to one dollar).  The value of Ghana’s currently fluctuates quite frequently, as a result there are some businesses that will operate in U.S. currency.  It’s best to check with the bank and forex bureau for the latest exchange rates.

 

Payment Methods

First, Ghana is primarily a cash and mobile money society.  If you’re travelling from countries like Canada, the United States., Britain, and parts of Europe, this isn’t something you’ll be used to.  Cashless systems are commonplace in other countries, but in Ghana cash still dominates. The other form of payment that is quite common is the use of Mobile Money payment systems.  If you’re not familiar with Mobile Money, that’s the service provided by all the telecom companies for users to be able to send money to others using a virtual wallet attached to their phone number.  It can also be used to make payments at some vendors. You can inquire about registering once you get a local SIM.  

When it comes to the use of Credit and Debit Cards, most hotels and restaurants in areas where tourists frequent usually accept this form of payment.  Some retailers in the shopping malls and plazas will accept card payments also. Visa is most common, with some accepting Mastercard. American Express (AMEX) is rarely accepted in Ghana. 

 

Transportation

Getting around as a tourist is one of the biggest concerns for travellers when they are in a new country.  You have a few options to move around while you are in Ghana.  

 

Taxis

In Ghana Taxis are stationed and driving around nearly everywhere you go.  They typically honk their horns in the hopes of getting a passenger. Taxis in Ghana don’t have a formal Meter calculating the fare.  Rather it’s negotiated. Before you board a taxi, it’s important that you negotiate and agree to a fare before the ride begins.  

If you want air conditioning they will often charge you a higher fare because they will say it consumes their fuel, but most don’t have the A/C working anyway.  

 

Uber

Since Uber came to Ghana in 2016, they offer a good alternative to taking the regular taxis. Currently they are only available in Greater Accra and Kumasi.  You don’t need to think about giving directions, like you would in a taxi, because of the mapping system used for the app. However, drivers often call passengers immediately after making a request to ask for directions.  This practice should be avoided. As a tourist, you’re not likely to know where you are going and it’s best to let the driver know you’re not familiar and to please follow the map system.  

Paraglide

In African countries, Uber has a Cash option for payment.  Because Ghana and other African countries are largely cash-based societies, many drivers prefer cash payments.  If you look at the app upon opening while you’re in Ghana, you will see the option to change your payment to Cash.  This will facilitate your travel with Uber. 

 

Bolt (formerly Taxify) 

In 2017, Taxify (now Bolt), entered the market.  As one of Europe’s popular rideshare services it grew rapidly as a competitor to Uber. 

If you don’t have this app already, it’s a good idea to download it to use while you’re in Ghana.   When Uber is extremely busy, this is a good option. They offer promotional discounts to new accounts and are often less expensive than Uber.   The downside is that they are only available in Accra and slow to respond to customer concerns and reports of issues with the ride or driver. 

Yango

This is the latest ride sharing service to enter the Ghanaian market.  Newly launched in 2019, the app is so new that there are not as many drivers available as with the other rideshare services.  This could potentially cause a delay when requesting vehicles. They are also only in Greater Accra.

 

Eat Ghana Fufu and Goat Light Soup

 

Trotro Vans

Everywhere you look in the streets of Ghana you’ll see those 16-passenger vans loading people.  These are called ‘trotros’. The most widely used form of public transportation in the country, they are also the least expensive and least comfortable option.  They fill the vehicles to capacity and sometimes over capacity with children sitting on the laps of adults.  

These vehicles have no air conditioning and stop everywhere, even non-designated places, resulting in longer durations of trips. If you join one of these vehicles at a station, remember that they will not depart until the vehicle is full.  This could also cause you delays in travel if it takes a long time to load. 

The mate, is the person who collects the fare and is often seen shouting out the window trying to get passengers for the vehicle.  If you’re not familiar with Ghana, this can be the most confusing form of transportation. 

Metro Mass Transit

The Metro Mass transit buses only depart from certain stations and operate Monday – Friday during business hours.  Some stations have Saturday operations too. To board this bus you need to have a Metro Card. It can be purchased and then loaded with money for your fare.  You would tap the card upon boarding the bus and your far is automatically deducted. Visit their website for more info at www.metromasstransit.com.gh

Health Care

Although Ghana has gone through some great developments, there are still challenges in its health care system, especially in public hospitals which are overburdened.  Foreigners often prefer to be treated at private hospitals. There will be a cost associated with it and there tends to be better care than in the public hospitals. Most require a registration fee on your first visit.  There are fees to see the doctor and for every test that may be giving to you. It’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance or to check if your existing policy covers you while in Ghana. 

Malaria is common in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Most travellers decide to take anti-malaria medications before arrival aimed at protecting your from contracting the illness.  However, if you find yourself feeling sick, pay attention to your symptoms. Often times when an individual has flu-like symptoms it’s assumed you have Malaria.  There are over-the-counter treatments available at every pharmacy, but it’s advisable that you get tested before starting a dosage of medication. All pharmacies have tests for Malaria, however note that they are not as accurate as getting tested at the hospital. 

 

Safety

Image courtesy 197travelstamps.com

Because of mainstream media’s portrayal of African countries, sometimes safety is a concern for travellers when they come to Ghana.  You’ll be pleased to know that Ghana is one of the safest countries in Africa. It’s been listed on many tour sites as being within the top 10 safest countries in Africa. 

Ghana experiences the same types of crimes that many high travelled nations do. Pick-pockets and petty theft can occur, so it’s important to keep an eye on your valuables; especially electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops and cameras.

Due to some reported incidents with ride-share services, take precautions by confirming that the driver of your car matches the profile in the app.  The same goes for the make, model and plate number of the vehicle. Should you experience things not matching, don’t board the car and report it immediately to Uber/Bolt/Yango.       

These tips should help you while you’re enjoying your time in Ghana.  It’s a beautiful country with so much to explore and wonderful people who are willing to guide you as you navigate your way around.  

Ghana reduces visa fees on arrival for ‘The Year of Return’

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The government of Ghana has reduced visa fees on arrival for “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019”. The fee is reduced to $75 from the initial $150. The move is to allow for many people living in the Diaspora to participate in the various activities for the programme.

 

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Charles Owiredu, made the revelation while speaking to the Diplomatic Corps on the programme in Accra.

He said, “Our Missions’ abroad are liaising with Ghanaians associations, airlines, etc to work and make it relatively easy and convenient for those travelling to Ghana to participate in the programmes of “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019.”

“The Government of Ghana is also in the process of working to have visa agreements with some countries such as those in the Caribbean where the Diaspora total number is quite significant. This year, for instance, the government of Ghana and Jamaica established a visa-free agreement where nationals of each of the two countries do not need a visa to travel to the countries,” he stressed.

The deputy minister further noted that in line with President Akufo-Addo’s vision of a “Ghana Beyond Aid”, the engagement of the Diaspora remained a major development programme of the government.

“With its democratic credentials, rule of law and the stability of the country, Ghana intended to serve as a pacesetter for welcoming their own back to their roots and to provide for assimilating them into the Ghanaian society in particular and African societies in general,” he said.

 

The year-long event which commenced at the beginning of this year is a major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the Global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.

 

The program also aims at celebrating the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.

Source: myjoyonline

#yearofreturn #ghana #letsgoghana #brafie #ghana2019 #visitghana #diaspora #Africa #yearofreturn2019 #travel #accra #african #travelnoire #culture #theyearofreturn

Year of Return: Virgin-islands Senators Open the Floor to Culture

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Friday, V.I. senators celebrated the Year of Return, Ghana 2019; the International Decade of People of African Descent; and V. I. Emancipation and Freedom Week.

Bills the Senate had passed recognizing the importance of the culture and heritage of the Virgin Islands were read, but it was song, dance and poetry that brought Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas alive during the morning celebration that ran into the afternoon. Viewers of the performances on its live broadcast on Facebook said the performances brought tears to their eyes.

The Ulla F. Muller Elementary School Bamboula Dancers accompanied by drummers danced in the Senate Chamber and brought comments on Facebook about how beautiful the performance was. So did the dance performance by Earth Mamas Pan African Dance Company. The third dance performance was by Empresses Addaliah and Atiyah Potter.

The program was tied together with a sober theme. It commemorated the men, the women and the children who were yanked from their West African homes and sold into slavery so a profit-crazed minority could make larger profits. A PBS video was played, “Why Did Europeans Enslave Africans?

The video illustrated how slavery was about making a profit for slave owners and how slavery evolved into racism.

Assata Afua, director Black Power Theater, relates her experience of Ghana. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)Assata Afua, director Black Power Theater, relates her experience of Ghana. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)
Assata Afua, director Black Power Theater, relates her experience of Ghana. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

Jackson told some of the story of Virgin Islander’s ancestors.

“They fought, they were thrown overboard, they were eaten by sharks, they gave birth, they died,” he said. Most Virgin Islanders have the blood of the survivors “running in our veins,” he said.

The connection between Ghana and the Virgin Islands’ past and present families was emphasized

Empresses Addaliah and Atiyah Potter made up the third dance performance. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)
Empresses Addaliah and Atiyah Potter made up the third dance performance. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

From Ghana, Alex Quaison-Sackey spoke about the connection. He is related to the first black African to serve as president of the United Nations General Assembly. Virgin Islander Myron Allick, representing the Sackey Family, spoke of that family’s connection to Ghana. He proposed an exchange program between Ghana and the Virgin Islands – 25 Virgin Islanders going to Ghana and 25 students from Ghana coming to the Virgin Islands. He suggested Carlsberg Brewery, which brews Elephant, a popular beer for Virgin Islanders, as a sponsor for the exchange.

Assata Afua, director of Black Power Theater, recounted her visit to Ghana and said when she returned, “I came back to St. Thomas my shoulders back a little further and my head a little higher.”

The first slave ship arrived in Jamestown in 1619. Jackson said that the settlers of Jamestown had stopped in the Virgin Islands on their way to settle Jamestown in 1607. He said. “The Virgin Islands are linked to this story, a world story.”

A Dutch ship named Desire delivered the 20 enslaved Africans to Jamestown. Some historians estimated that more than 7 million slaves were taken from Africa in the following century.

Jahwed David read a poem recalling the words of Maya Angelo “I am the hope and dream of slaves.”

Behind the speakers in the Senate Chambers was a large portrait of Edward Wilmot Blyden, widely known as the father of Pan-Africanism. He was born on Saint Thomas in 1832. He migrated back to Africa where he became a political figure.

Emancipation Day – July 3 – commemorates the day in 1848 when 9,000 enslaved Africans on St. Croix demanded their freedom, forcing Gov. Peter von Scholten to declare, “All unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today emancipated.”

Source: St. John Virgin Islands

What You Need to Know Before Arriving in Accra for ‘Year of Return’

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Written by Ivy Prosper

You’ve booked your trip to Accra. Now the countdown begins.  As you prepare to travel to Ghana there are a few things you will need to know for your arrival.  If this is your first time coming to Ghana or even landing on the continent of Africa, you’re in for quite an experience.  

 

The city of Accra if a vibrant, eclectic mix of people from diverse backgrounds.  As the capital city of Ghana, it’s much like many other major metropolitan centres in that people from small towns and communities across the country move there in hopes of greener pastures.  The result is the hustle and bustle of a big city that’s crowded and often choked with traffic at peak times of the day. 

Airport City- Accra

 

Because of the diversity in its people, there are various cultural practices people maintain from their communities even though they are in Accra.  The city is historically the dwelling place for people of the Ga tribe. Their language, Ga, is spoken by many in Accra, especially in Accra Central and Jamestown.  However because of the migration of many people from the Akan tribes (this includes Ashanti, Akuapem, Akwamu, Akyem, Fante) into Greater Accra, the Twi language, has become a dominant one spoken by many people in Greater Accra.  In fact, that language has become so commonplace that it’s spoken by some even in regions where it’s not the native language.    

Despite the many groups in Greater Accra, because English is the official language of Ghana, nearly everyone speaks it, so as a tourist you will be able to manage.  Although you will frequently come across those who speak a local slang often called ‘Pidgeon English’. This is spoken widely in Ghana and you’ll also find it in Nigeria.  

 

Cultural Nuances

Anytime you travel to a new country, there are a few things you need to know.  Ghana isn’t much different. So here are some important things to note for your stay in Ghana.

Akwaaba – This means ‘Welcome’ in the Akan language.  It’s commonly used across Ghana as a welcome greeting.  As a visitor, you will often hear people say this to you when you visit places for the first time.  

 

Thank You – Thank You in the Akan language is ‘Medaase’. This is one of Ghana’s most common words used to show appreciation. 

The Use of Left Hand – In Ghanaian Culture, giving and receiving items is done only with the right hand.  For example is you are making a purchase, you are expected to hand the money using your right hand to the individual.  When using your left, you will hear an apology. “Sorry for left,” is commonly said when someone hands you something with a left hand. 

 

The reason is that culturally it’s believed the left hand is unclean since it’s supposed to be used to clean up after visiting ‘nature’s call’.  So using the left is considered disrespectful by many. 

PleaseThe word “please” is used quite often in Ghana.  It may come across as over-gratification when you hear it so often, but in Ghana it’s considered respectful to use ‘please’ in many scenarios.  It’s often, “Yes, please” or “No, please” when answering questions.  

Occasionally it’s used in conversation when addressing someone to show a sign of respect. 

 

The Writer: Ivy Prosper Photo Credit: @AdomiStudios

 

These are just a few things you’ll need in preparation for your trip to Accra, Ghana.  Pay attention to cultural cues and if you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask. Ghanaians are quite friendly and open to conversation with travellers.  Enjoy your stay!

Ghana’s Lost Historic Mosques

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This is an article by Baptist Missionary who explored the historic sudanese mosques in the northern part of Ghana. The article explores the origins of the mosques to why some have disappeared
This is the last in of a series of posts about Ghana’s only six remaining historic mud mosques built in the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style
When I embarked on my project to visit the last of Ghana’s mud mosques, I thought I would be seeing nine according to the Ghana Museum & Monuments Board website. Unfortunately, there are only six still standing and in use: LarabangaBanda NkwantaNakore, Maluwe, Bole, Wuriyanga.

 

How Many Mud Mosques did Gold Coast/Ghana Have?

A century ago, every mosque in the north was made of mud simply because that was the primary material used. Look through archival images from the early colonial era and every mosque is some sort of variation on the Sudano-Sahelian* style.

Rudolph Fisch’s images of Mamprugu in 1910 show the Gambaga mosque as a white-washed mud structure in the Sudanic style. Famed American modernist photographer Paul Strand shot a mud mosque in Tanina, Ghana on his 1964 photographic tour of the country that culminated in the incredible book “Ghana: An African Portrait.” Additionally the British National Archives contain images of mud mosques in 19th century Bimtuku (though it’s hard to determine where that village is and it’s possible the images are of Boundoukou, Cȏte d’Ivoire).

Why Have Ghana’s Mud Mosques Disappeared?

There are several factors that have made these mud mosques so rare today. The primary reasons are of function:

  • This mud architecture requires thick walls and supports which don’t actually leave much space inside for worshippers. A mosque like Nakore‘s could only hold about 25 people during prayers. The large Woriyanga mud mosque might accommodate 60 or 70 at most. As followers of Islam increased in number in northern Ghana, the mud style of building was no longer practical.
  • Newer materials like zinc roofing and cement cinder blocks allowed for much larger mosques that were less labor intensive and required less maintenance (mud mosques need to be re-plastered annually).
  • The art of mud construction has been lost as the newer generations of builders are using the newer aforementioned materials.

And finally, the mosques disappeared because their style fell out of fashion. The old, “primitive” styles were abandoned for modern, “civilized” buildings modeled after the modern mosques seen in images from the Middle East and North Africa.

It’s only in recent years that interest in these mud mosques has been revived as they are now seen as historical landmarks and cultural treasures.

The Most Recent Mud Mosques to be Lost

I mentioned that I expected nine mosques but only saw six in any decent condition. Here are the ones that have recently been razed or are in pitiful ruin.

Dondoli Mosque, Wa

Named after the neighborhood in which it stood, the Dondoli mosque in Wa is hard to find. It has been abandoned and in ruin for so long that most people don’t even know what you’re talking about if you ask bystanders for directions. When we finally got directions, we had to walk through narrow, winding alleyways in the dense residential neighborhood to reach it. Its lack of visibility has probably hurt its chances of being restored as a historic and tourist attraction.

Luck would have it that when I visited the crumbling structure in April 2018, an old man passing by stopped to chat with us. His name was Malaam Fuseini and he explained that his great-grandfather Karimafa migrated to Wa from Mali and built the mosque. Fuseini claimed that the mosque was originally named after its founder – Karimafa Mosque.

Another interesting story Fuseini shared was that his grandfather Lumaam Mahama took a pilgrimage to Mecca. He says it took him 22 years to walk and work his way to Mecca and back. When he returned he brought with him a complete Qur’an for the community.

Today, the Dondoli neighborhood (also known as Fa Muni?) has the standard, large, block mosque to serve its members. At the time of my visit they were also in the middle of constructing a muslim community center next to the old, mud mosque to hold meetings, weddings and other community events.

An interesting image of Dondoli Mosque in Wa, shows another Sudano-Sahelian building behind it. Photo by Kasana Museum, date unknown (post-2005?).

Wechiau Historic Mosque

The old mud mosque in Wechiau is barely standing today and no longer in use. It’s a shame because with the nearby Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary bringing in visitors, this architecturally unique structure could generate some income from tourists. As it stands in 2018, it looks pretty much irreparable.

Of all the mud mosques I’ve seen in Ghana, this one had a most unique design that seems to be a mashup of both the Sudanic and Djenne architectural styles. It had buttresses like Sudanic mosques but only one tower (now collapsed) like the Djenne style seen in Woriyanga, Ghana. Looking at the interior, it seems that the columns were much too small and spaced out to support the flat mud roof. After the initial collapse of the roof, it was replaced with zinc but eventually the building fell in to disuse as the newer, larger mosque was built just behind it. Traditionally, unused mosques are not demolished but instead are just left to elements.

I’ve searched online for images of the mosque before it had fallen into disrepair but couldn’t find anything. It may be that it has been abandoned for a few decades.

Dakrupe

This small village between Bole and Larabanga is still listed on the GMMB website as having a mosque. However, the Maluwe mosque’s imam informed me that it was destroyed nearly a decade ago to make room for a larger, modern cinder-block mosque. I’ve not been able to find any photographic evidence online of the Dakrupe mosque.

I should also note that the Maluwe imam mentioned that the village of Mandari also used to have a mud mosque that was destroyed in his lifetime. Again, I haven’t been able to confirm that or find any record of its existence.

Sudano-Sahelian” can be a confusing term today because it sounds like it is associated with the East African country of Sudan. The term however comes from “French Sudan” which was France’s colonial territory in West Africa from around 1880 to the 1960s. The French, in turn, used the name “Sudan” because West Africa, south of the Sahara and north of the forested coastal regions, features a geographical region known as Sudanian savannah (or Sudanian grassland). Therefore, the architecture of Ghana’s Sudano-Sahelian mud mosques are not related to any tradition from Sudan or East Africa.

Source: William Haun

8 Historical mosques with similar architectural design

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The most popular ancient mosque in Ghana that attracts lots of tourists is the Larabanga mosque. This mostly due to its unique architecture and era it was built.

However, the Larabanga Mosque is not the only mosque in the country that is worth all the hype. There are many equally amazing mosques (8 to be exact) scattered around Ghana which are similar.

Most of the communities of the regions of Northern Ghana, especially the Northern Region, are Muslim. Islam, which first entered Africa in the 10th Century AD, progressed from Egypt towards the western and the southern parts along the gold trade routes during the trans-Atlantic slave trade period.

In Ghana, these trade routes were used by Mande warriors, Islamic Traders and Missionaries. Occasionally, these routes were marked by incursions by the Almoravids, a Berber Dynasty, which played a major role in the spread of Islam in the area. These mosques were constructed to serve as rest points for the Islamic traders along the routes, and in conquered territories people were converted to Islam. Some of these mosques still exist today and date back as far as the 17th Century AD.

Let’s take a look and see if you agree with us.


1. Dakrupe Mosque

Interestingly, this mosque is very close to the Larabanga mosque but it has been absolutely abandoned as a tourist attraction although it is still in use. The mosque was built in the 19th century and it shares some features with the Larabanga mosque but it’s a little smaller.

The Sudano-Sahelian style mosque at Maluwe in Ghana has been expanded in recent years to make it larger.

Read more:

2. Banda Nkwanta Mosque

This particular mosque is taller than what we have at Larabanga due to it’s higher parapets. It is situated at West Gonja District in the Northern Region.

 

3. Nakore Mosque

The Nakore Mosque is located in the Upper West Region and also shares similar features with the Larabanga mosque, but unfortunately, little is known of the place.

Read More: Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Nakore

4. Maluwe Mosque

Maluwe Mosque is in the Northern Region, on the way to Bole, in the West Gonja District. It’s parapets are huge and bigger than what’s at Larabanga and appears to be cleaner.

Read more: Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Maluwe

5. Wuriyanga Mosque

This 19th Century mosque is in the Upper East Region, beyond Garu, near the Togo Border. It is currently undergoing restoration works by the local community.

 

6. Wechiau Mosque

This mosque is located in the Upper West Region and has identical features as the Larabanga mosque. However its design is more of the Sudanese style than the Djenne type.

 

7. Dondoli Mosque

This 19th Century mosque is in Wa, the capital of the Upper West Region.

8. Bole Mosque

Bole Mosque is in West Gonja District, in the Northern Region.

Source: How Ghana

KOFI AKPABLI WRITES, ‘PANAFEST IN THE YEAR OF RETURN’

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Powered by a development agenda, and as old as Ghana’s democratic dispensation, PANAFEST is undoubtedly a key stakeholder in the “Year of Return“. The festival emerged on the Ghanaian scene in the early 1990s with a message, which has remained relevant- celebrating the essence of black people and re-uniting Africans with those in the diaspora.

Today, not only has the event demonstrated staying power, it has remained the reference point for African Diasporans returning home to the motherland. More than that, PANAFEST has sustained diverse platforms as well as partnerships to confront the rather difficult conversations around Africa and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey is famed for the idea that all people of African descent should move back to the continent to partake in the development process. Since then, successive Heads of State in Ghana have initiated actions and policies to attract Diasporans back to Ghana. In his independence speech, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah envisioned an African liberation anchored on the idea of people of African descent coming back. Ghana, as a result, is the home and resting place of several Pan Africanists, most famous among whom are W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore.

Another example is the Immigration Act of 2000 under the Rawlings regime which provides for a right of abode for any “Person of African descent in the Diaspora” to travel to and from the country without hindrance.

 

By declaring 2019 as the “Year of Return,’’ President Akufo-Addo seeks to reinforce Ghana’s credential as the hub of Pan Africanism. Coincidentally, the ‘’Year of Return‘’ is a celebratory year for the biennial PANAFEST event. This article broadens the perspective to prove that the “Year of Return’’ and PANAFEST itself are reverberations, set to roll by precursors within the local as well as a global arena.

Take local literature. In the 1960s when Ama Ata Aidoo wrote the Dilemma of a Ghost, a play that was first put up at Commonwealth Hall, she was a proponent in the movement that was generating debate on the place of African Americans in Ghanaian society.

When in 2013, the United Nations Declared 2015-2024 as the ‘’International Decade for People of African Descent,’’ many communities in Africa and within its Diaspora might have yawned it away as another officious sloganeering. To cap it neatly, the theme for the ten-year celebration is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” Overambitious and nice-sounding, huh?

This skepticism may not be misplaced. The history and politics of the Black man’s story have become a bit too complex for one stroke of bureaucratic cosmetics to cause a difference. As America, for example, has demonstrated, racism is not stopping anytime soon and the light of black power is still not appearing at the other end of the tunnel. The foregoing and other developments notwithstanding, events seem to be coming together to generate positive discourse since the United Nations declaration.

Incidentally, Ghana’s ‘’Year of Return’’ happens midstream of this UN decade. The question is how does a forum such as PANAFEST engage? Originally dubbed the Pan African Theatre Historical Festival, the concept was birthed in the early 1990s into a world grappling with its own new and emerging status; a world, which could barely catch up on the series of epochal developments that were re-defining it.

On a February day in 1990, Mandela had walked out of jail after 27 politically charged years. A couple of months later, the Iraq War had broken with Allied Forces reminiscent of Allies in the Second World War. The prayer was that the adventure would be quick and over with. Meanwhile, a certain Charles Taylor was leading a horde of hinterland rebels on their march towards Liberia’s seat of Government.

For such a turbulent period, perhaps it was for comic relief that, Cameroun proved at the FIFA World Cup, that Africa could sting and, courtesy Roger Milla, could dance to boot. Christmas the following year gave us the shocking gift of a USSR empire crumbling to impose the uncertainties of uni-polarism after nearly five decades of a Cold War. One could surmise that the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall had foreshadowed it. And, oh, by this time CNN had appeared on our local screen, dazzling us as the first 24-hour news channel in the world.

Also Read: CNN Lists Ghana as place to be in 2019

On the local front, Ghana was inching towards a return to democratic constitutional governance. By 1991, the nation was at the cusp of ending a decade long military rule. Around the same time, a brand new National Theatre had been built courtesy, the Chinese (Now we know that it was not quite ‘surprise, surprise’).

Well, that was the era PANAFEST chose to burst onto the scene. We were soon to learn that the concept was long coming from the visions and propositions of Efua T. Sutherland, dramatist cum Pan-Africanist whose daughter Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy is today working with others to steer the affairs of PANAFEST.

The name of the new festival sounded exotic, sexy even. There was a national playwriting contest on the theme of the Slave Trade. Under the Chairmanship of Ben Abdallah’s National Commission on Culture, drama competition included a students’ category.

That first PANAFEST was held in Elmina and Cape Coast. The winning plays were put up during the events and later followed up with run offs in Accra. The festival announced itself as essentially a cultural event dedicated to the enhancement of the ideals of Pan Africanism and the development of the African continent. Organized biennially, PANAFEST aims to establish the truth about the history of Africa and the experiences of African peoples using the vehicle of African arts and culture.

It provides a forum to promote unity between Africans on the continent and in the diaspora and to affirm the common heritage of African people the world over by defining and promoting the continent’s contribution to world civilization.

Holywood Stars spend Christmas in Ghana

PANAFEST has since attracted a diverse assembly of people ranging from political leaders, eminent personalities, intellectuals, business concerns, investors and tourists. Central to the celebration are major international performing and visual artistes. Needless to say that popular African descended stars such as Isaac Hayes and Rita Marley not only came over to perform, they eventually made Ghana their home. In 1998 PANAFEST took on an additional ceremony, Emancipation Day making Ghana the first African nation to commemorate an African diaspora event that marks the abolition of slavery.

It is critical to note that in the past, PANAFEST has not always received adequate government support. Still, the event had stayed on course. In some of the celebratory years, the venues had gone beyond the Elmina-Cape Coast-Assin Manso triangle to include a few northern towns on the slave trade route. In 2001 for instance, an enthusiastic group of some thirty African Americans visited Paga. Led by Prof. James Small and Dr. Jeffries they visited the Nania Slave Camp.

Fresh from university and doing national service with the Ghana Tourism Authority in Bolgatanga, this writer was the liaison officer for that visit. The Paga Pio and his people honoured the home-comers with a memorable durbar. In the evening, a reception was held in the chief’s courtyard. Here, and to the amazement of onlookers, the African Americans lost all inhibitions and took over the nagla dance from the indigenous performers. They danced and danced and danced.
At the time it happened, the above episode did not capture the lens of the national media but it did capture the spirit of PANAFEST. Thankfully, this year’s PANAFEST features another homecoming expedition to the North. Outlining the focus areas of activities at the recent launch of the festival in Cape Coast it’s Executive Director Rabbi Kohain Halevi, charged Ghanaians to create a stimulating environment for the expected arrivals. He considered the relevance of the event as transcending the year period into an opportunity to examine the disruptions of African history.

 

In this year of return, one expects PANAFEST to lead in critical national conversations. Ghanaian society tends rather not to talk about issues related to slavery. Is it a good idea to start? Could we discuss reparations? How should we engage the castles of Elmina, Cape Coast and Fort Prinzeinstein, for instance? And why should visiting people of African descent at these Sites of Memory pay the same gate fee as the blue-eyed Caucasian from Europe?

Finally, there is the question of the youth. At both the launch of the Year of Return at Dubois Center as well as the launch of PANAFEST in Cape Coast young people stepped forward to express the same concern- ‘’what doors are our leaders opening for us?’’ One would, therefore, expect a vibrant engaging of this critical community of our human capital. To re-echo a statement by Prof. Esi Sutherland at the recent Cape Coast launch, ‘’PANAFEST is not only about the past. It is also about the future.’’

#PanafestInTheYearofReturn

By: Kofi Akpabli