Ghana, a west African country, is bounded on the north by Burkina Faso, on the east by Togo, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and by la Cote d’Ivoire to the west.
Formerly a British colony known as the Gold Coast, was led to independence by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the 6th of March, 1957. Ghana became the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from colonial rule.
The country is named after the ancient empire of Ghana, from which the ancestors of the inhabitants of the present country are thought to have migrated.
RICH HISTORY AND HERITAGE
For many tourists, the history of Ghana begins with the slave trade and European interaction but there had been a long history of influence and prosperity before 1500 B.C. predating the slave trade. However it was the infamous slave trade that had left the most indelible mark on Ghana.
The country’s coastline is dotted with castles and forts built by the Portuguese, the Danish and Dutch traders. Prominent examples can be found in Cape Coast, Elmina, Keta, James Town and Osu in Accra. These forts and Castles remain a poignant memorial of the abhorrent slave trade under which millions of Africans were sold and taken away.
The struggle for independence reached a highpoint with the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947. The UGCC pursued a policy of “self-government within the shortest possible time”. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was brought in to be the group’s General Secretary, broke away in exasperation over the slow pace of events to form his own party, the convention People’s Party (CPP) with the slogan “self-government now”.
Dr. Nkrumah won a majority in the Gold Coast legislative elections in 1951 and was appointed leader of government business. He won independence from the United Kingdom on 6th March, 1957 and proclaimed the new nation Ghana.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Ghana has ten administrative regions with varied customs, traditions, foods and festivals. The regions are very diverse. From Accra, the hub of the country, to the stunning savannah of the north, each has something to offer the traveller who is desirous of experiencing the diverse customs and traditions of Ghana. The immense cultural diversity of Ghana is a source of fascination for visitors, drawing them into a daily rhythm that is unmistakably African.
Along the south, local fishermen still ply their trade in colourful pirogues and life is ruled by the winds and tides of the Atlantic Ocean. Northern Ghana, by contrast, has strong cultural links with the Sahel region. This can be seen in the local style of attire and the distinctive mud architecture of villages such as Paga, Sirigu and Larabanga. Sightseers can experience the cultural diversity of Ghana by visiting each unique region.
Centuries-old traditions, coupled with distinct ethnic groups, have left a splendid legacy. To the people of Ghana, the customs of their ancestors are still an important part of the day-to-day life.
Festivals are also big features of Ghanaian culture and are held across the country throughout the year. Some of these festivals are celebrated to ask for blessings or protection of a traditional area. Examples are the Bakatue festival of the people of Elmina celebrated in July, which marks the new fishing season, and the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra. Festivals always provide an opportunity for communities and families to come together to re-strategize for future development.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Ghana has a rich natural treasure made up of National Parks, Resource Reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, which are open throughout the year. From the savannah to the coastal plains, dense tropical forest and the grassland of the north to the life-giving water bodies, Ghana is home to spectacular range of wildlife in a land of mountains, forest and fabulous waterfalls.
Ghana’s National parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries are national treasures, providing a habitat for a rich diversity of mammals, reptiles and insects. Some of the wildlife parks are within easy reach of Accra, whiles other locations involve a long drive.
Ghana is also home to dozens of vulnerable and endangered species including primates such as chimpanzees and red monkeys, big cats including lion and leopard, elephant and many water birds. Conservation programmes are in place to protect the natural landscape, thus allowing visitors and future generations of Ghanaians to go on enjoying this wonderful country.
THINGS TO SEE IN GHANA
TWENTY THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN GHANA
- Visit the Volta Lake, which was created in 1965 following the damming of the Volta River and is described as the “largest reservoir by surface area in the world”. Numerous hotels adorn its shores in Sogakope in the Volta Region, and Akosombo and Senchi in the Eastern Region. Fishing, swimming and cruising pastimes are available.
- Take a trip to the iconic Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum situated in the capital city of Accra.
- Some of the festivals celebrated in Ghana are: Adae Kese by the Asantes, Homowo by the Gas, Hogbetsotsoza by the Anlos, Yam festival by the people of Ho, Aboakyir by the Efutus, Kundum by the Nzemas, Bakatue by the Fantes (Elmina), Fetu by the Oguaas (Cape Coast), and Damba by the Gonjas, Nanumbas, Mamprusis and Dagombas.
- Mole National Park with its two lodges, Mole Motel (www.molemotel.gh) and Zaina Lodge (www.zainalodge.com), near Damongo in the Northern Region
- Nzulezo Village built on Stilts in the Western Region of Ghana.
- Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- The venerable Aburi Botanical Gardens, which is about 45 minutes’ drive from Accra, was established in 1890. It covers about 64.8 hectares and is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Butterfly and Bird watchers will also find a lot to titillate their curiosity.
- Waterfalls: Wli Falls the highest waterfall, is near Hohoe in the Volta Region. The forest around it has been preserved into what is called the Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Boti Falls, a beautiful sight to behold, is located about 17km or 30 minutes drive from Koforidua in the Eastern Region and takes it source from the Kulpawn River.
- Markets: Makola Market in Accra and Central Market (also called Kejetia Market) in Kumasi, which holds the accolade of being the biggest market in West Africa. Replica Makola and Kejetia markets have sprung up all over the world, recreated by Ghanaian immigrants.
- The sacred Paga Crocodile Pond, where man and reptile co-exist in rustic simplicity. The docile crocodiles afford many photo opportunities. Paga is a border town in Ghana’s Upper East Region and the main crossing point between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
- The Volta River Estuary at Ada – the place where the Atlantic Ocean and the Volta River meet: Different coloured waters literally struggle with each other in the never ending battle for supremacy and end up creating huge waves. A wonderful spectacle to behold. You can see this great force of nature at close quarters through guided tours. Ada is also the location of a technological feat, the sea wave power generation plant.
- Mount Afadzato – the highest peak in Ghana ascends 885m or 2,904ft above the ground. It is located in Gbidi, a village 24kms from Hohoe in the Volta Region. It offers opportunities for mountain climbing and panoramic views of neighbouring Togo and the Volta Lake among others.
- Artists Alliance Gallery, at Omanye House, Accra-Tema Beach Road, where works by Ghanaian artists are exhibited and sold.
- Touch of Bronze Gallery, East Legon Accra, where Sculptor Kwatei Nee-Owo produces a unique blend of gold coast bronze and multi-metal sculptures.
- Tetteh Quashie’s Cocoa Farm – this was the first cocoa farm cultivated in 1879 by Mr. Tetteh Quashie, the progenitor of the Cocoa Industry in Ghana. A delight for those interested in education or farm tourism, it is situated at Akwapim-Mampong. Today Ghana is the World’s second largest producer of quality cocoa beans that is coveted by chocolate and confectionery producers throughout the world.
- Bonwire Kente weaving village in the Ashanti Region. The rich colourful kente is the national cloth of Ghana.
- Agbamevorza (kente festival) celebrated in Agotime-Kpetoe and other villages in the Volta Region of Ghana to climax years of Kente weaving.
- Rattery Park-Kumasi City is an early opened ultra-modern park in the heart of the Garden City. The park is named after Capt. R.S. Rattary, an anthropologist and student of Ashanti culture who authored several books on Ashanti culture and customs. This recreational park with its dancing fountain is situated opposite Gold Tulip Hotel.
- The Ghana National Museums located on Barnes Road in Accra.
Paragliding Festival in Kwahu in the Eastern Region – the festival has gained popularity and has become an integral part of the annual Kwahu Easter Festivities. It has rekindled and transformed the Kwahu Easter celebrations into an international event with a lot of tourist participating in the festivities. The Kwahu Paragliding festival attracts both Ghanaians and foreigners to 4 days of spectacular aerial fun, ceremony and music.