August 2014


10 Years Of Sabre Charitable Trust Ghana… #‎HappyFromElmina‬

Coz They’re Happy!

The Sabre Cahritable Trust are happy! and so they should be as they celebrated their tenth birthday this month. To help them celebrate they have teamed up with AECOM Technology Corporation have pledged to donate up to £10,000 – £1 for every like and £5 for every share of Sabre’s promotional video – Happy from Elmina.

Sabre are a charitable trust with an developed educational system in rural (very rural!) areas of Ghana. Leaving an educational platform, in tandem with purpose built, low tech, low impact sustainable buildings. Their philosophy extends to using a local and often unskilled workforce, leaving them with valuable commodifiable skills on completion.

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To have achieved what they have when to be frank they can be  faced with bureaucracy narrow focus is incredible. They are a great group, delivering a great deal in a decade on pure invention, determination and sacrifice – they really do deserve to be supported and celebrated.

For more information on Sabre and the work that they do check out their website – http://www.sabretrust.org/

Now all that’s left to do Check out the promo video below and get happy while you like and share!

 

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_GHANA)

Touring Ghana – Part 4…

Northern Region

The largest region in Ghana, the northern region is filled with exotic Islamic culture, traditional rustic mosques, scenic natural features and historical legacies that makes a visit to this part of Ghana an exciting one.

Getting there

There are several ways one can get to this part of Ghana. STC buses depart from Accra and Kumasi every day except on Sundays to the northern capital Tamale. You can also fly there with Antrak Air or City Link. If you want to go to the north from the eastern region, you can use a weekly ferry service from Akosombo to Yeji on the Volta Lake.

Where to stay

Despite being the biggest region in Ghana, the north is less populated than the south, thus limiting the choices of accommodation when compared to places like the Greater Accra region. However the B&Bs, hotels and guest houses are nice and decently priced. These include Sisimbo Beach Resort in Kuntul, TICCS Guesthouse in Tamale, Nim Avenue Hotel in Tamale, Savannah Loge in Larabanga and Central Guesthouse in Tamale.

untitledTo get a real taste of authentic northern cuisine then definitely head to Luxury Hotel in Tamale for some lovely northern food. Main dishes in this region include tuo zaafi, rice balls with groundnut or green leaves soups, tubaani (made beans or cowpea with sheanut oil and pepper), koko or millet/corn porridge eaten with koose (fried bean balls). Wash these meals down with locally brewed beer from millet called pito, toasted millet flour in water and “fula” mashed in water, milk, ginger and sugar, or try bokina, bisaab/sorrel, toose and lamujee.

Things to do

The northern region is rich with history, especially regarding the slave trade. The north served as a key supply source for slaves who were sent to markets and sold to local markets from the south. The town of Salaga used to be the biggest slave trading centre in northern Ghana, and here one can find a pond called ‘Wonkan Bawa’ (a Huasa word meaning the ‘bathing place of slave’). Other relics like slave chains and slave dormitories can also be found there.

Ancient mosques are another feature of the north that reflects its Islamic heritage. The Larabanga Mosque, the oldest and largest Sudanese-style mosque in Ghana built by Moorish traders in the 13th century is a must see.

Graves are also a prominent feature in the north reminiscent of past battles fought in the region. Visit the mass grave of fallen Dagomba warriors at the battle ground at Adibo, near Yendi, where the Dagombas fought the Germans. Also the grave of Naa Attabian, a great Mamprusi King, is at Nalerigu, while that of Ndewura Jakpa, the greatest King of the Gonjas, is in Buipe. In addition, the graves of massacred Gonjas, have now become shrines at Jentilkipe, where the Gonjas battled with Samore and his army of slave raiders.

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Now dotting the eastern part of Tamale are the northern region’s distinct and somewhat peculiar architecture of round huts with conical thatched roofs known as Kraal buildings, which are a real beauty. The outskirts of these compounds are often surrounded with multi-coloured ceramic mosaics made from fragments of chinaware. Be sure to make a visit to these and you won’t be disappointed.

Another unique feature of the northern region is their handicrafts and textiles. Visit these areas for brightly coloured textiles and cloths: Yendi, Gushiegu, Daboya and Tamale. Jakarayili and Kikuo are famous for their giant potteries, and the town of Lobi produces exotic water pots and beautiful handwoven baskets. For all things leather then visit Zongoni. To grab a bargain, then the central market in Tamale is in the place to head for the things mentioned above, especially leather bags, purses, necklaces and boots.

Despite its dry climate, the northern region has some scenic natural beauty. A distinctive feature of the northern region is the savannah, a picturesque vegetation with various species of trees such as acacia, baobab, and Shea nut, rare species of flora and fauna, and ant-hills. You can catch a glimpse of the region’s natural wildlife by heading to Mole Natural Park in Damango, a safari-like park that has one of the biggest elephant sanctuaries in Africa. Other animals on the park include antelopes, buffaloes, apes, birds and other 400 species of animals.

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Get to know the regions culture by taking part in some of the festivals celebrated in the region. The Damba festival is celebrated under the lunar calendar by the people of Dagbon, Mamprugu, Gonja, Mamprugui and Namumba to commemorate the birthday of the Holy Prophet of Islam. The two day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship. Another well-known festival is the Bugum Chugu or Fire Festival as it’s sometimes known as, is celebrated by the people of Dagomba, Nanumba and Mamprusi. Also held under the lunar calendar, it involves the procession of torches at night amidst music and dancing.

Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)

Review: Sarkodie / Amakye Dede Live in London – 24/8/2014

The Highlife legend and the “Rapperholic” set the Dominion Theatre Ablaze!

Bank Holiday Sunday saw the much-anticipated joint live concert of multiple award winners Sarkodie & Amakye Dede take place at the Dominion Centre in London’s Wood Green.

Hosted by the hilarious Simply Andy & the sublime Ohemaa Ghana, this was an unmissable event which was to showcase two of the grandest and greatest artists of Ghana’s past and present. Ghana national coach Kwesi Appiah took his seat amongst the capacity crowd in anticipation of what was to be an incredible night.

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And the concert did not disappoint. Sarkodie showed himself to be already a true giant of the Ghanaian music scene at just 29 years of age, brooding with effortless confidence as the crowd rapped and sung along to every hit tune – even then, it was impossible at times to keep up with his blistering rap speed! A particularly comedic moment showcased Sarkodie’s stunning skills of improvisation and quick thought as a security guard came onto the stage to pick up cash which had been thrown upon the artist and Sarkodie told him that he didn’t mind if the guard failed to collect all the notes as for him ‘money no be prablem!’ It’s fair to say most of the raucous crowd was slayed by that line!

Sarkodie’s powerhouse performance was dotted with some special guest appearances. Popular actor John Dumelo & international football star Emmanuel Adebayor jumped onto the stage with Sarkodie to display their azonto skills, while a rendition of ‘Down on One’ triggered a special surprise appearance by UK’s very own Fuse ODG.

However it was undeniable who truly owned the Dominion Centre stage. This was Sarkodie’s night, and he had the crowd eating out of his hand with every move and every lyric. There was no greater example of this than when the super smash hit ‘Adonai’ finally dropped, and all composure was lost amongst the crowd in the arena. Obia nto ne collection! It was a particularly poignant performance in light of recent events concerning the co-artist of this remix track, but Obidi Pon Bidi powered through with sheer heart & talent to deliver an unforgettable rendition which sealed off an outstanding set.

Ghana’s premier urban artist then gave way to one of the greatest legends of Ghanaian music, the incomparable ‘Iron Boy’ Amakye Dede! Backed by an awesome live band, the ‘Abrantie’ himself fizzed and crackled with electric energy, which transmitted across the capacity crowd. Jumping across stage and along the aisles with more vim than men half his age, Dede produced a masterclass of a live performance which would put many artists of today to shame. If he could bottle what runs through his veins and sell it to the masses, he would be even richer than most!

images83SBMQTJ Only the dead would have been able to keep completely still as Mr. Dede rolled back the clock and got the audience dancing to his irrepressible highlife. Some female fans couldn’t help themselves and even breached the stage to shower Amakye Dede with cash and compliments! You couldn’t fail to be manipulated and moved by the breathtaking vibrancy and colour of Amakye Dede and his live band. As far as legends go, there aren’t many out there greater than this giant of an artist, and he didn’t disappoint here at the Dominion Centre.

As the night drew to a close and the curtain finally fell upon the Dominion Centre stage, you couldn’t deny this had been an awesome & successful event. Ghana came to London this night. On this late-summer’s evening, a stunning live meeting saw two phenomenal Black Stars of Ghanaian Music shine brighter than ever in the capital.

Dr. Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Watch & Wait: Ebola

In early August 2014, the World Health Organisation declared it a ‘global health emergency’

In most of the regions where cases have been reported, mortality rates sit at more than 50%.

Fatality rates can reach 90%. Let’s look at that statistic from another angle – of every 10 people infected, potentially only one will survive.

And there is no cure.

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First reported in Guinea in February 2014, the Ebola virus now looms large over Africa’s Western region. This is now the worst Ebola outbreak in history. And the facts tell you that Ebola is no joke.
However, as well as the disease utilising the much-improved benefit of 21st century travel to spread from region-to-region, with cases even beginning to be reported in different continents, the trajectory of the disease is seemingly being spread further by riding upon the vehicle of fear and rumour. 24 hour news agencies, unreliable blogs and social-media mash-ups have contributed to distorting the true nature of the outbreak. As serious as Ebola is, they haven’t helped by their scaremongering of the masses with altered stats and false reports. If I had a pound for every time I heard it announced on Twitter or Facebook that Ebola has arrived in Ghana…

 

So what are the facts?

Formerly known as ‘Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever’, the Ebola Virus Disease is introduced into the human population via contact with infected animals – fruit bats are the natural homes of Ebola.

Ebola is then shared around by human-to-human transmission by direct contact through broken skin with infected human bodily fluids or indirect contact with environments which have been contaminated with such fluid (WHO). As such, great care must be taken in even burying Ebola victims, as direct contact with the infected deceased can be a vehicle for transmission. Men who have made a recovery from infection are still able to transmit the virus via semen for up to SEVEN WEEKS after recovery!

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Only supportive treatment to manage symptoms, such as rehydrating those who have lost fluid volume via vomiting or diarrhoea, is available. Today, no potential cure has successfully made the jump from the blackboard and laboratory tables to the treatment rooms to be available for use.

With an incubation period of almost 3 weeks, you will not know straightaway if you have been infected. Trust me, once symptoms begin to manifest, you will know about it.

Initial flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, weakness, headache & sore throat, fast give way to more prominent and devastating symptoms such as pronounced vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes both internal AND external bleeding. This blood loss invariably leads to death.

The prospect of an outbreak in Ghana is one which is understandably provoking much anxiety amongst our community. Ghana is doing its best to prepare for an outbreak by building 3 isolation centres where infected patients will be kept and cared for, away from the general population.

The government is also planning to run simulations at these isolation centres to help medical staff run through scenarios and to bridge the technical gaps which may affect the success of Ghana’s strategies to fight Ebola. The government has split Ghana into three zones – Northern, Southern and Central – and each zone will have its own single isolation centre. Where it can be easy to lose heads and lose composure, Ghana has rather quietly set its house in order with a clear plan of action – just in case…

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Ebola is a horrible phenomenon which has unfortunately reared its head in an era which makes the virus, and the rumours which surround it, easier to spread than ever, and therefore more difficult to control in equal measure. However, Ghana has a plan. All we can do is be prepared, and wait. And focus on the facts. The rumours will continue to travel faster than the virus ever will. All we can do is watch, and wait.

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Touring Ghana – Part 3

Central Region

Land of the fante people, home to some of Ghana’s best preserved castles and world heritage sites, beautiful beaches and exciting festivals, the central region is known as the heartbeat of Ghana’s tourism, and a visit to this part of Ghana is a must for anyone with a passion for history and culture.

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Getting there

Getting to the central region is fairly easy if you’re travelling from Accra or Kumasi. STC buses to the region’s capital Cape Coast leaves twice a day from Accra, and from Kumasi there’s a daily bus to Cape Coast as well. Best way to get around when in the region is trotro (local buses) or taxi.

Where to stay

Being a coastal region, the central region has many fantastic beach resorts one can stay at affordable prices. These include the Brenu Beach Lodge, Oasis Beach Resort, Biriwa Beach Hotel, Kokodo Guest House, Baobab Guest House, Nokaans Hotel, Hans Cottage Botel and Pedu Guest House to name a few. For a taste of mouthwatering dishes (and continental food) these are the restaurants to head to: Castle Restaurant, Kokodo Restaurant, Coast to Coast, Hayford Lounge and Bar and Baobab House, all located in Cape Coast.

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Things to do

The central region was the former government centre of Gold Coast and Cape Coast the seat of British colonial administration thus the region is very much steeped in history. The coastline of the region is dotted with forts and castles, most notably Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Castle, and Fort St Jago, which have been identified as World Heritage sites. For a small fee visit these places to discover the slave trade history of the region.

Not to be missed is the Donkor Nsuo (The Slave River) at Assin Manso, a place where slaves bathed in the river before they were taken to nearby Cape Coast and Elmina to be shipped off overseas.

Get stuck into the local culture by visiting the traditional fishing and crafts villages located in Winneba (famous for its fishing fleets, masquerade festivals and beautiful ceramics), Kromanste & Abandze (famous jazz player Louis Armstrong traced his ancestry here) and Gomma-Otsew-Jukwa (known for its fine pottery).

For beach lovers and those who want to get your surf on head to Brenu Beach, Breni Akyim, Gomoa Fetteh, Elmina and Winneba beaches, all dotted with palm trees, white sands and friendly locals.

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To observe nature at its best, head to Kakum National Park, where one can find diverse species of mammals, plants and insects. Activities offered at the park include walking tours, guided hiking, bird watching and the canopy walk for the brave and fearless (if you’re scared of heights this is NOT for you!)

Depending on what time you visit the region you can take part of the local festivals that happen all year round. These include the Fetu Afahye festival celebrated by the people of Cape Coast. Witness purification rites, procession of chiefs, drumming and dancing and firing of musketry. Another festival to look out for is the Akwambo festival celebrated by the people of Agona in the region.

Finally make sure you try some of the local dishes when touring the region. Dishes unique to this part of Ghana is fante kenkey, fufu and palmnut soup and eto (mashed yam or plantain eaten with peanuts and eggs)

So if you do decide to visit the central region, what I’ve touched on above are just a few of the things you can do in this part of Ghana. Happy touring!

 Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)

Re-Mending the frame of creativity!

 All of the tangible things you see around you initially began as a gentle thought, an idea, an imagination in one person’s mind…..

The things you see and use are the product of someone’s creativity. The reality is that, each person has been given that measure of creativity.

In a bright alley, somewhere in Africa, there are those who have had the chance to serve and live off their creative impulses. Like the image of child, fascinated with the world of science, who would often ask teachers how drugs are made, this passion led him into medicine, by majoring in pharmacology.

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Also, I have the image of a successful woman, as a child, she would align her favourite doll on a stand, she would then fold her arms and pretend to be a lawyer in court defending her doll’s case. The same person went on to pursue a career in law.

In a darker alley, there are the other ‘creatives’, those who have had their inner creativity and artistry permanently silenced by a family member, a stranger, or a society. Unlike the ones in the brighter alley, they were rebuked and discouraged when sharing their ideas on living off their creative interests, and when using their artistry skills.

Though the term ‘darker alley’ is of course not used to describe such situations in Ghana, there are some that falls victims of similar ordeals. People who are forced to abandon their inner creativity and natural abilities in order to pursue a career their society deem ‘ideal’, classic’ and perfect’. These fields are known as the ‘professional careers’, it could be one in the field of law or medicine, more commonly.

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The young ones and the elderlies, together we tend to appreciate well-known figures such as Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Georgio Armani and other global stars who are in ‘uncommon’ fields, but then how many of us Africans would be encouraging with a neighbour, or a family member, who have got the skills and desire to pursue one of those careers?

For those with a desire to pursue artistic or creative careers, they should know that genuine passion and love for the field are the most important things.  As it is much easier to persevere and work hard for something you have a real passion for. The fear of failing should never be an excuse in not trying.

For me, a nation who calls itself unafraid and ready to welcome change and solutions is one who allows its citizens to use their unique talents for the good of the country. We can’t prevent another ‘Bill Gates’ or ‘Steve McQueen’ to be born after all.

Let’s take the stigma down and realise that those currently working in ‘uncommon’ fields in Ghana, be it in music, acting, sports or fashion have worked as hard to pursue what they love as those who are in other careers.

Together, as a nation, let’s continue to invest and support these industries, and not abuse them.

Myriam Osei (@Angelpeacejoy)

 

Touring Ghana- Part 2 ….

Upper East Region

Bolgatanga or colloquially known as Bolga is the capital of the Upper East region, which can be found in the extreme north-eastern corner of Ghana. Though one of the poorest regions in Ghana, Bolga boasts a rich culture and vibrant tourist attractions that makes a trip up there well worth it

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Getting there

The best way to get to Bolgatanga is by bus or plane depending on your budget. As you can imagine the bus trip is a long one – from Accra to Bolga it takes about 15 hours! You can go by air; however Bolga doesn’t have an airport so you will have to catch a one hour flight from Accra to Tamale, then a 3 hour bus journey to Bolga.

Where to stay

If you have relatives or family in the region then it makes sense to stay with them. If not, Bolga offers some nice hotels and guest houses at very decent prices. These include Samata Guest House, Sand Gardens Hotel, Mama’s House, Ex-Tee Crystal Hotel and Comme Ci Comme Ca.

Things to do

There’s plenty to do in Bolga. Known as the crafts centre of northern Ghana, make sure you visit Bolgatanga Market. As a border point between Ghana and Burkina Faso, the market buys and sells many items from people of all walks of life. One can find beautiful woven baskets, clothes, hats, handmade jewellery and leather goods, all at very affordable prices.

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Now if you’re the adventurous type then make sure you head to the Paga Sacred Crocodile Ponds, where the “friendliest” crocodiles in Ghana roam about. These crocodiles are termed as ‘friendly’ because they act like pets, allowing people to touch their tails, rub their backs and even sit on them!

Add a little mystery to your trip by heading to the town of Tongo, where one can find the Tongo Whistling Rocks. These rocks make for a dramatic scene as they jut from the landscape and makes strange whistling noises when the harmattan winds blow from the Sahara desert.

Tap into your spiritual side by heading to one of the most sacred places in the region, the Naa Gbewaa Shrine. Founder of the Dagomba tribe, legend has it that Naa Gbewaa was a god who never died but simply vanished during battle. The shrine which is thought to have been built in the 13th century is sacred ground to the people.

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Immerse yourself in local history by visiting Pikworo (Rock of Fear) Slave Camp in Paga. Built in the 16th century, the camp still has remnants of the past, including mass grave markers, punishment sites and “bowls” carved into the rocks, out of which the slaves were made to eat from. Another site worth visiting is the Nalerigu Defence Wall built in the 16th century by  Naa Dzaringa (named after the African viper) to protect the village against slave traders. The structure is said to have been built with milk and honey, of which some parts still stands today. Also equaly interesting to visit is the Kulungugu Bomb Site, where in 1962 an assasination attempt was made on the life of Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah. A memorial stands on the site.

Enjoy local art by visiting beautiful Sirigu Murals done by the women of Sirigu village intent on keeping traditional art alive. They also make baskets, pottery and other crafts adorned with exquisite patterns. Also delightful are the traditional decorated houses that have made Sirigu famous.

Another local community worth visiting is Widenaba (In the Red Volta Valley) who have a rich cultural history that began in Burkina Faso. Take a hike in the hillsides to be rewarded with breathtaking views reaching as far as Burkina Faso, and make sure you catch a glimpse of the African Savannah Elephant that roam the area.

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Finally your visit to this part of Ghana will not be complete without witnessing the numerous festivals that reflect the distinct cultural identity of the people in the region. Some of the festivals include the Adaakoya Festival, Gologo Festival, Eiok Festival and Boaram Festival and include drumming and dancing, singing, sacrificial offerings, re-enactment of past battles and durbar of chiefs. And like the Upper West region, food in this part of Ghana include tuo zaafi (TZ), riceballs and peanut soup, rice, beans and cowpeas or ‘tubaani’ and kooko(porridge) with koose.

Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)

Touring Ghana – Part 1…..

The holidays are here again, which means many Ghanaian families in the UK and around the world will be going to Ghana for some holiday sun.

Usually when we holiday in Ghana, we tend to stay in the southern part of Ghana, notably in Accra or Kumasi. In case you have forgotten, Ghana is made up of 10 regions! 10 regions with its own unique rich culture and tourist attractions. I mean, do we really explore Ghana when we visit? How many of you have visited Wa (Upper West region), Ho (Volta region), or Bolgatanga (Upper East region) just out of curiosity and interest?

Our motherland has so much vibrant history and culture that can be easily missed if one does not look.  Holidaying in Ghana should not just revolve around Accra and Kumasi, so I’m going to give a short breakdown of the different regions in Ghana and what each has to offer. If you’re in Ghana this summer or will be visiting in the Christmas period, why don’t you take some time to go to some of these places? It just might change might your view of Ghana for the better…

 

Upper West Region

Let’s start with the Upper West, noted for its lush green savannah and also boasting a rich cultural heritage. Home of the Damba festival and many others, the xylophone, pito and tuo zaafi, a trip to the north-western part of Ghana is an adventure one is unlikely to forget!

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Getting there

You can fly to the upper west region by air to Tamale then continue your journey by road using STC buses. If you’re travelling from Accra or Kumasi to the region by bus then the journey time is 15 and 11 hours respectively. International visitors can also come through Burkina Faso via the Hamile border.

Where to stay

It is true that the infrastructure in the northern part of Ghana is perhaps not as developed as the rest of the country; however the Upper West region offers a few choices of quite nice accommodations in forms of hotels and guesthouses. Upland Hotel and Jam Guest House in Wa are probably the best places to stay – the rooms have air con, running water, fridge and TV.

Things to do

There are countless things to do in the upper west region that will occupy your time. The Wa Naa’a Palace in the capital Wa is a magnificent piece of architecture one must not miss. Built in the 16th century, the palace is home to the paramount chief of Wa. Another equally charming palace to visit is the Jirapa Naa’a Palace, the first multi-storey mud building in Ghana.

The Upper West region is rich with history – just north of Wa is the Gwollu Defence Wall, a defence wall built by Gwollu Koro Liman to defend the town of Gwollu against slave traders in the 19th century. One can also see the legacy of the trans-Saharan trade in the form Islamic influences in the towns within the region – the region is dotted with mosques, most notably the ancient Sudanese mosques at Nakore.

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Make sure you explore the region’s rocky landscape, including the beautiful mushroom shaped rocks known as the Wulin Mushroom Rocks. Visit ancient caves found in Bulenga, Dahili and Sankana, which served as refuge for those fleeing from slave traders, and remnants of former slave camps can be found in Pizaga and Dolbizon.

The Upper West region is also known for its many wildlife and nature reserves – take in some of the natural wonders Ghana has to offer by heading to the Gbelle Game Reserve and Bird Sanctuary in Tumu, which is home to buffalos, elephants and Ghana’s largest herd of roan antelopes. The Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary is another wonder, and also home to other reptiles and birds. Experience one of the best dawn choruses (bird song) in Africa by spending the night at the Hippo Hide Tree. Other nature reserves to explore are the Sombo Bat Sanctuary, the Jefiiri Sacred Royal Python Sanctuary and the Crocodile Pond in Eremon.4-drummers

Finally, get your party groove on by attending some of the festivals held all year round in the region, notably the Damba festival, the Paragbiele festival, Willa Festival and the Kakube Festival. These are occasions to witness the chiefs and people of the region in their smocks and traditional attire. Listen to xylophone players while tucking into a bowl of tz or ‘tuazaafi’ and a of calabash millet beer (pito)!

 Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)