Tag: Northern Region

Shea butter ‘the women’s gold of West Africa’

Shea butter or ‘nkuto’ as it’s commonly known in Ghana, is a fatty natural herbal extract that has been produced by women in the north of Ghana for centuries, and in most cases providing them with their main source of income. Recently it has become an increasingly popular ingredient used in various skin and haircare products worldwide, boosting local economic opportunities for women in Ghana, especially in the northern region, which is one of Ghana’s most economically disadvantaged regions.

With the increased demand for shea butter by the international market, Ghana has become one of Shea butter-1the largest exporters of shea butter! However, like many other businesses, the shea butter business is not fair and square, which means that the local women working really hard to produce shea butter often don’t get to benefit from their valuable (and really expensive!) produce. This is obviously a problem and in fact a threat to how quality shea butter is produced the traditional way as people migrate to other regions seeking “better economic opportunities”. To help women profit from their work, several associations have been formed such as the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association, which works in partnership with The Body Shop. By joining an association women are often empowered through the provision of interest-free loans, training, storage facilities and quality control services to ultimately offer higher quality products at slightly higher prices.

shea butter-3Shea butter in most cases is manually processed from shea nuts found within the fruits of the shea tree (Karite tree). The shea tree can bear fruits for up to 200 years, making it a very sustainable natural resource! The processing involved in obtaining smooth unrefined shea butter as we know it, is a skill that has been passed down to women and girls in Ghana for generations. The entire process is fairly labour intensive, requiring excellent attention to detail and as such is completed in several stages. Once the women have collected the shea nuts from their farms, the nuts are boiled to help break their outer shells to release the seeds that are used to make the butter, before being dried in the sun. After the the nuts have been pounded and crushed into small pieces, they are carefully separated from the broken shells and roasted, before added to water and continuously mixed into a paste. Once the fat has been separated the paste, it’s whipped into a smooth butter. To see the entire process, check out YouTube for some great videos!

So, what is the hype all about? As already noted, the benefits of shea butter are not a recent shea butter-5discovery as women in Ghana have been using shea butter for multiple purposes, such as protecting the skin from the sun and during the dry season for many many years! Shea butter has been shown to heal burns, sores, scars and stretch marks to mention a few. In addition, the use of shea butter as a daily skin moisturiser has several benefits resulting in smoother and softer skin due to its inherent protective properties and its abilities to stimulates cell renewal and repair rough and damaged skin. Did you know that shea butter can even be used to relieve pain and inflammation in some case? How can a single product provide such a wide range of benefits? It almost sounds too good to be true! But I promise you it works! How? Well, shea butter is naturally enriched with several different ingredients such as essential fatty acids, vitamin A, E, D and F and cinnamic acid, which protects the skin from UV rays.

Shea butter is not only applied topically but is also consumed by many. In some parts of Ghana shea butter is often used as a cooking ingredient in the preparation of certain dishes. Shea butter is also increasingly being used in the West and can be found as an ingredient in chocolate and margarine.

Have you ever used shea butter? How do/did you use it?

By Nora Mistersky (Ms_Nora_M)

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.


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.


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)

MeFiRi Ghana’s Political Corner…



‘With the 2012 elections set to be one to remember,

VP Mahama said, Ghanaians should preserve with the biometric registration for vote in December.

He called on all citizens, irrespective of their political party at the poll,

To register for the exercise, whilst participating in the exercise in his region of Bole.

Accompanied by the Northern, Upper West and Upper East regional ministers at the polling station,

VP Mahama urged Ghanaians to uphold the country’s credentials, as a proud democratic nation.

Promising that the government would provide a free and fair Electoral Commission, with all the logistics,

Mahama queued and registered to show the nation, they CAN produce representative statistics.


And that’s the latest MeFiRi Ghana Political Poetry.

By Anthony Lyrics