Let’s Tour Ghana, one of the fast rising Tourism Clubs in the Country (Ghana) on the 26th of February, 2022 (Saturday) embarked on their fourth trip to the Kakum National Park and Elmina Castle.
Most members of Let’s Tour Ghana conquered their fear of height by taking on the 7-level canopy walkway at Kakum..
They proved to the canopy walk that yes indeed they are really here to Tour Ghana and have arrived as the canopy walk surrended to the members of the Club.
One of the club members ie. Jennifer even catwalked on the last canopy walk bridge, struck a 360 pose and ended her walk in a grandstyle as the 7 constructed bridge made of wood, metal and hard ropes dropped it’s jaw in awe and disbelief.
That should inform you the level of confidence and zero percentage of (0)% fear these club members had.
Kakum Canopy Walkway seemed to have frightened other folks initially but not the mighty Let’s Tour Ghana avengers and warriors of Tourism.
By the end of the 3 count, the canopy walkway tapped out to the fearless and confident Let’s Tour Ghana members.
Elmina Castle presented herself before members of the club, as members of the club sympathised with her on the inhumane treatment her African Children went through centuries back.
Elmina Castle, a mother full of ages, 540years was consoled by her great great great grandchildren called Let’s Tour Ghana.
Members of the Club assured Desmond Kwao the Tour Guide that the history he has told them about their mom, Elmina Castle will remain in their hearts forever and will never be forgotten.
Let’s Tour Ghana club in partnership with Hausa Tours Tours on the 29th of May, 2021 embarked on their second trip to the Volta Region, visiting Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, Wli Waterfalls and Mount Afadja, popularly known as Afadjato.
The first destination for the trip was the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary where the Tour Guide, Robert took them through a brief history about the Mona Monkeys and advised tourists not to peel the banana but hold it very firm with hand stretched forth and the monkeys would take the banana to peel and eat.
At Wli Waterfalls the group crossed nine bridges during the 45minutes walk to the falls. Patrons enjoyed every tiny drop of water that fell from the rocks above by bathing in the pool of the fall. At sunset, the group was treated to authentic tunes of Volta amidst drumming and dancing by the fire side (bonfire) which went deep into the night.
The next day which was a Sunday after they had done justice to their breakfast, they set off around 7:30a.m to engage in a climb battle (hike) with the great Afadja Mountain (Afadjato). The Tour Guide, Albert briefed them about the history of Afadjato. According to Albert, it’s “Ava Tsa To”. Ava means War, Tsa means Plant and “To” means Mountain.
Through series of events and evolution, over 300 years ago, one of our fore fathers who lived behind the Mountain (Ngortsi, Togo) discovered this new mountain and realised it was good for the planting of garden eggs so he later informed his people and they all settled here.
There used to be wild animals but they all left. They now had to hide in between the plants whenever they were fighting to sack the animals. The plants was such that when it got stuck on the human skin, the body would itch for a long time.
So it was a war between them and the plants for survival, I.e “Ava Tsa To” (War with the plants) but the Netherlands who later found themselves here on the land during those days couldn’t find the Ewe dialect Ava in their dialect so instead of the Ava, it was rephrased to Afa, to suit their way of pronounciation. That’s why it’s Afadjato. But in actual sense, it’s “Ava Dja To”.
Indeed it was a Tug of War between the members of the Let’s Tour Ghana Club and the pathway to the top of the hill where Mr. 885meters resided above sea level.
It was really a great experience when about 99% of the club members climbed up and descended the 885meters rocky mountainous Afadjato above sea level.
It was all fun, joy and great learning experience in all as they returned from the trip on the 30th May, 2021 (Sunday) night to Accra.
Members who embarked on the trip couldn’t hide their joy and the experience they had at these Tourist sites. To them, climbing the Afadja Mountain (Afadjato) alone burnt a lot of calories in their body which they were so happy about and also the fact that they have been able to exercise their whole body and enjoyed a great sight from a height of 885 meters standing for about 20minutes and more, something that was only possible to them by climbing the Afadjato Mountain. They also expressed how delightful being under the tiny drops of the Wli Waterfalls felt like. To some, it was as if they have been re baptized with all their sins washed away.
Having Monkeys all over you, taking bananas from your hand and behaving like humans is an everlasting and unimaginable feeling most of the club members expressed. In all, it was a trip worth going.
So what are you waiting for? Gather your jogging boots, swim suits and get some fresh bananas and pay a visit to these wonderful tourist sites in the Volta Region. You would love to go there over and over again when you visit because the feeling and experience you would have, would be an everlasting one.
Let’s Tour Ghana’s mission is in line with the vision of the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Ibrahim Awal Mohammed ensuring that Ghana becomes the leading hub of tourist related activities to the rest of the world.
Let’s Tour Ghana tours are also in line with His EXCELLENCY, the President’s Launch of Domestic Tourism on Tuesday 1st June, 2021.
“We see the President is fully focused on pushing Domestic Tourism and we are here to serve as a backbone to the President’s initiative and agenda for the promotion of Domestic Tourism”, their management said in a short interview after their visit to the Volta.
The Club was founded on the 10th of February, 2021 by NSS Personnel of the Ghana Tourism Authority. Hausa Tours is a tour company led by the seasoned tour professional Mr. Fuseini Nawaru Mohammed as CEO, who took them through from start to finish on this one of a kind experience.
By Isaac Kofi Arthur / Ghana Tourism Authority /NSS PERSONNEL
Ghana welcomes United Airlines as it commences direct flights between Ghana and the United States, providing an additional option for the country’s largest tourism generating market. The airline will operate three flights per week to Accra, offering passengers more traveling options to the US.
It would be recalled that during the Year of Return, South African Airlines handled most of the passenger traffic between Ghana and the US and were overbooked throughout.
This follows the re-launch of passenger flight operations from Washington to Accra by United Airlines. Its Dreamline 787 landed at the Kotoka International Airport on Saturday, May 15, 2021.
The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan said the start of the United Airlines service will also promote trade relations the two countries.
United Airlines, which is the 3rd largest airline in the world as measured by fleet size and number of routes, will compete with Delta on the Accra- New York JFK route.
Aviance, which has also been chosen as the ground handler for United Airlines, says it is very delighted to service the airline.
Mark Kamis, Managing Director of Aviance told AviationGhana that “we were very lucky that we have been handed the ground handling for United. We had the business back in 2015 when United was first here. So for Aviance we are very excited to be handling them again.”
The landing of the Dreamline 787 was welcomed by the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, the Minister of Transport, MD of the Ghana Airport Company, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority who could not hide his joy as he exhibited his Adowa dance skills at the tarmac.
The Rock Of Ages is a title attributed to the one and only almighty God because rocks represent something very powerful, something that has been in existence for a very long time, just as the Rock of Gibraltar is also attributed to the same God depicting his awesomeness and greatness looking at the huge nature of the solid rocks.
So one can confidently say that when the word Rock which is translated in the Fante language as “Obwo” or the Twi language as “3buor” or as the Ewe’s will call it “3kp3” is mentioned, there is a certain level of pride, greatness and prestige that it comes with.
Talking of Rocks, let’s come home to the subject matter. Let’s take your mind unto the huge (enormous) rocks at Shai Hills and the historic events that took place in the era of the ancient days.
Let’s Tour Ghana Club inaugurated under the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) travelled on a tour to the humble abode of Shai Hills at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region on 27th March, 2021 which was a Saturday to experience the Culture and history that took place during the olden days before independence.
They were well received by the “Tour Guide” Mr. Micheal Kumah who took them around to witness the wonderful history and it’s explanations that it came with.
It was now time to enter the gigantic solid rocks as Mr. Micheal Kumah took his time to thoroughly explain the history of living that took place in the rocks.
According to him, in 1892, the Shai people were forced to leave the rocks by their Colonial Masters being the British.
After that, they re set up Dodowa, Agormeda etc. and each year in September, a homage is being paid to the ancestral home to perform their festivals known as “Many3”.
When they left, some bats took over the cave. A foul smell can be sensed when one enters the rocks and gets to that point, and that is because of the existence and migration of the “INSECT BATS”.
According to medical reports, if one is an asthmatic patient, it is not advisable for them to enter that entry point in the rocks unless he or she has his or her inhaler.
Mr. Kumah stressed on that, he doesn’t allow and will never allow asthmatic patients entry at that point of the experience. This is not to prevent them from enjoying the fun and experience but rather protecting their lives.
He also narrated the history of the then Kings who used a section of the cave as their Palace in decision making.
They used to gather there and make decisions concerning puberty rites of the ladies as at that time.
In those days, there was no ladder mounted to the top of the rocks that allowed the bodyguards or people to climb to the top so one will ask, how then were his bodyguards able to climb to the the top of the heavy rocks? The answer was straight forward. They used the back hole, a section in the rocks that allowed them entry on top of the rocks.
He further added that, the stairway was recently mounted because Tourism lovers will want to experience how it feels to be on the top of the mounataineous rocks and thereby can’t use the entry (hole through the backyard of the rocks) the bodyguards used because it was very risky. They have to ensure that every Tourist’s life is protected like an egg in the palm on and in the rocks.
It is their sole responsibility to keep each and everyone in their premises alive till they exit their caves (rocks) and premises in the wild life reserve.
They can’t afford to record loss of lives in the quest of adventure and education about the history and explorations of the beautiful scenery at Shai Hills.
In conclusion, Mr. Micheal Kumah added that, in descending the top of the rock after the sight seeing returning using the mounted metallic ladder, it is always best and advisable to descend backwards and not forward because the way the metallic staircase is constructed and mounted, if one doesn’t take care and descend with their front, the probability of slipping and injuring oneself is very high which can lead to death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Please – The 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.