Tag: Volta region


Cornellians Win Award for Architecture Work in Ghana

Three Cornell students won the creativity award for their architectural design of an eco-friendly school to be built in Ghana at a major NGO’s gala aimed to raise funds.

With the recent finalization of their design, Voices of African Mothers’ vision of building the school came closer to reality, and brought the NGO closer to achieving its larger mission of developing African nations through the empowerment and education of women and children.

In the Volta Region of Ghana, where only 7.9 percent of girls attend secondary school, Arielle Tannin ’18, Ana Moura-Cook ’19 and Claudia Nielson ’18, as members of the design team Sustainable Education Ghana under Cornell University Sustainable Design, helped design and plan the construction of the school meant for girls in a town called Sogakope.

Already, VAM Girls Academy has a waiting list of 158 students waiting to enroll and SEG’s design of a six-classroom school will contribute to housing a substantial portion of those students, the team said.

Sustainable Education Ghana applied research on the intricate weather and climate conditions and the culture of the surrounding area to the design, which includes six classrooms and their desks and chairs.

The design also optimizes the building’s internal temperature by making it face the prevailing winds on the site to allow for passive cooling.

To account for the region’s wet seasons, SEG team members even designed a woven fabric that would cover an indoor path between classrooms when students need to travel between classes in the rain.

In line with the school’s desire to provide its students with an educational curriculum, which involves agriculture, the school will include learning gardens outside classrooms where students can receive hands on learning experience.

In preparation, Tannin, Moura-Cook and Nielson not only performed field work in Ghana but also conducted design testing with children in Ithaca middle schools, in collaboration with VAM.

“It’s important to let them know that people are willing to invest in them,” said Kachina Randall, executive director of VAM. “The act of people mobilizing and coming together to build schools and platforms lets these girls, children, mothers and women all know that they have a God-given right to live a prosperous life.”

In discussing the impact of the construction of this school, Eden Brachot ’15, director of marketing and outreach at VAM, added that fewer than 8 percent of girls get to go to school “just because there are not enough physical schools.”
For this reason, the work that SEG put into designing the school is especially meaningful, the team said, as it allows students to not only gain an education but also to do so comfortably.

The school is set to open on Jan. 27, 2018 but construction of the six rooms that SEG designed will continue throughout the year as VAM raises more funds, the team said.

In the future, VAM has long term plans to expand and open more schools, a task that is possible given the scalability of the classroom’s modular design.

 Source : http://cornellsun.com

The term Tsoo-boi and the Early Akan Settlement in the Volta Region

In the year 1732, when the Ashanti Kingdom was ruled by Otumfuo Opoku Ware I, the Ashantis, mainly from Kuntenase, in an attempt to expand the kingdom, moved towards a place that is now part of the Volta region and to a place called Worawora. They fought the Chokosis and drove them out from their land in 1734 and occupied it. They spoke their Twi language and maintained their culture and traditions. From then on many Akans from many Akan-speaking areas moved in to settle at different places including Jasikan, Donkorkrom and Avetime.
Something interesting happened which led to the creation and popularization of the compound word, “Tsoo-boi”. Many people and groups have used this compound word, “Tsoo-boi” without knowing how the word came about, and from which language it originates. Eighty percent of the people I interviewed said “Tsoo-boi” is a Ga word. Only twenty percent said it was an Ewe word.

“Tsoo-boi” is a word largely used in Ghana by many people including students, workers, demonstrators, pastors and Imams. When that word is mentioned, the resultant reaction is the same. It is a shout for action, attention and coordination. Furthermore the shout of “Tsoo-boi” creates a sense of belongingness, oneness, enthusiasm and victory.
In a fishing community in the Volta region, lived two fishermen and their families. They were not on talking terms. One family was Ewe and the other was Akan. The children of both families always had to cross a stream in a canoe to go to school. One day, on their return from school, a strong wind blew the canoe to overturn in the full glare of by-standers. In an effort to get help both the Akan and the Ewe boys began to scream for help in their local languages. The Ewe boy shouted, “tsoo,” “tsoo”. The Akan boy also screamed urgently, “buei,” “buei”. These were shouts for help and attention. The onlookers jokingly combined the two words, spelling the Twi word according to how they heard it. This marked the genesis of “tsoo-boi.”

The Akans in the Volta Region have their settlements in areas like Jasikan, Donkorkrom, Worawora and Avatime. The majority of the Akan settlers were mostly from the Ashanti Kingdom. They got permanent settlements in these areas through conquests. After living in the Volta Region for more than a century, they still considered themselves as Akans. The Ashantis paid allegiance to the occupant of the Golden Stool. Their Chiefs also swore the oath of allegiance to the stool.
At a press conference in Accra months after Otumfuo’s visit, the Omanhene of Worawora Traditional Area, Daasebre Asare Baah III, confirmed that, even though Worawora is located in the Volta Region, they will still remain Ashantis. The Omanhene was compelled to react to a “Times” London newspaper headline story which came out after the Asantehenene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware’s visit to Worawora traditional area in the early part of 18th century. The front page story was an angry reaction by the chiefs in the Volta Region after Otumfuo’s visit. They reiterated that Worawora cannot be under Asante. During the press conference, the Omanhene, his subjects and well-wishers were all clad in black funeral clothes which the Ashantis call “kuntunkuni.” This was to protest to the VR chiefs that no Akan chief will swear an oath of allegiance to any VR chief.

The Avatime are another group of Akans who live in the Volta Region. These are Ahanta people who migrated to the place known today as Volta Region during the 18th century, almost at the same time when the Fanti fishermen from Elmina migrated to Togo and finally continued to Dahomey (Benin). More than a century ago, a mystery pot was found hidden in a cave at Biakpa in Avatime. Critical and investigative study of the pot and its content revealed that the Guans have been in Avatime and in Ghana since the Stone Age. Kwame Ampene, a folkloric historian and founder of the Guan Historical Society, depending on oral history, claimed that it was not the Ahantas who migrated to the Volta Region but rather the Igbos who lived among the Ahantas for so many years who later migrated to Avatime. Kwame Ampene admitted that the Ahantas may also have migrated to the Volta Region, asserting that the original homeland of the nuclear Avatime has become a difficult problem which has so far defied any satisfactory solution.

So far there has been very much cooperation and peaceful co-existence among the Akans and the Ewes in the Volta Region. When the new president, Nana Akufo-Addo, hinted that some regions including the Volta Region will be divided into two regions and the likelihood is that the Akans may have their own region and the others, including Ewes, will also have one region, many concerned people in the region have stood up against the idea. They will still want to be together as one people in one region. The peace and love existing among the various tribes in the region is superb and phenomenal.
By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

Why Are People from Volta Region Called Number 9?

The Ashantis go by the accolade Kotoko (the porcupine). They gained this accolade due to their military power and effective strategy in fighting wars since 1701. Their assertive claim that if a thousand Ashantis are annihilated in war, a thousand more will come to replace those decapitated (wokum apem a, apem beba), likened the Ashantis to the porcupine which releases its sharp long quills or spines and gets replaced almost immediately. Interestingly the Nzimas also call themselves Kotoko but the reason behind it may probably not be the same as that for the Ashantis.

This article will discuss why Voltarians are called “Number 9”.

At independence, Ghana was divided into seven administrative regions: Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Northern, Upper, Volta and Western. Brong Ahafo was the first region created after independence. It was carved out of the Ashanti Region in 1958. Anyone who went to school in the 60s and 70s will remember that Ghana had only eight regions. Yet Volta Region, which had existed since independence, was called “Number 9”. PNDCL 26 created Greater-Accra as a region on its own on 23rd July 1982. Greater-Accra, became the ninth region of Ghana. Yet the Volta Region retained its nickname of “Number 9”.

The youngest regions in Ghana are the Upper-West and Upper East which were created when the then Upper Region was divided into two by the PNDC government in 1983. Of course, the Volta Region continued to be called “Number 9”.

When Brong-Ahafo Region was created in 1958, it left the Ashanti Region completely “landlocked” within Ghana. The region has no borders with the outside world. Some observers say it was a deliberate ploy by Kwame Nkrumah to make it impossible for the Ashanti State, the heartland of the “matemeho” movement and congenital opponents of the CPP, from ever seceding from Ghana. When Greater-Accra region was created, it left the Eastern Region also “landlocked” within Ghana as it lost its sea border. It is, thus, only the Ashanti and Eastern Regions that share no borders with the outside world.

But how and why did the Volta Region get the nickname by which some people still call it? The well-

Wli Falls in the Volta region

Wli Falls in the Volta region

known fact must again be stated that the nickname “Number 9” is almost always used in a derogatory sense even if it is often said more as a joke than as a serious insult. The people of the region do not call themselves that and it is obvious they do not quite take much delight in being called so.

The derogatory connotation of the Volta nickname may come from it carrying a certain sense of “lateness”. This sense is reinforced by the fact that the region is made largely (but not completely) of the erstwhile Trans-Volta Togoland (TVT) which, until December 1956, was really not an integral part of the Gold Coast. Of the four entities that constituted modern Ghana, the TVT was the last to be formally joined to the Gold Coast (that became Ghana) even though the territory had long been administered by the British from their Accra seat as part of their Gold Coast “possession”.

It wouldn’t matter if the lateness denoted just that – lateness. But “Number 9” carries a sense of backwardness even though the region doesn’t come last on a range of important metrics. It is not the last region to be created, it is not the smallest region, it does not have the smallest population, and it does not have the lowest literacy rate. It does not come last in an alphabetic ordering of the regions of the county. Yet the nickname persists.

A second reason one can hear for the “Number 9” is that, until new codes were introduced in 2010, Volta Region’s code was 09. If you lived outside the region, you dialled 09 to get to the region. But this reason does not seem true. In the 60s, not many people had access to telephones and it is unlikely the region could be identified by its telephone code. Moreover, it is a bit difficult to assign a derogatory connotation to a region because of its telephone code number.

First Miss Ghana Monica Amekoafia

First Miss Ghana Monica Amekoafia

How did the “Number 9” come about? The reason is actually simple and one which, at a time, the people of the region would have been proud of. The first ever Miss Ghana competition was held on 4th March 1957, two days before our independence. It may have been conducted as part of our independence anniversary activities. The candidate representing the TVT (Volta Region), which had by then become an integral part of the new nation, had the identification number 9. Miss Monica Amekoafia, then 22 years old from Alavanyo in the Volta Region, and representing her region carrying lap number 9, went on to win the entire competition and was crowned as the first ever Miss Ghana. Ghana did not have television then (it wouldn’t come until 1964) and only those present at the function or listening to the radio (if it was broadcast live), would have seen or heard the announcers calling the Volta Region candidate by her lap number. The following day, the newspapers may have carried pictures of the candidates and their regions and their lap numbers.

People may have talked about the contest for days even as they still do today for “Ghana’s Most Beautiful”. Volta Region became identified with “Number 9”. If Ghanaians welcomed the TVT as part of Ghana, there might have been a lot of goodwill around. It was a time we all identified ourselves as Ghanaians. The tribalism we see today was virtually non-existent then. Those who then called Volta Region “Number 9” wouldn’t have done so for any diabolical reasons. That would come later on…

Today, there are still a few misconceptions about the Volta Region. The most serious is the one

districts in the Volta region

districts in the Volta region

which identifies the region with the erstwhile TVT. Today’s Volta Region is not identical with the former German colony of Togoland that the British took over in 1916. The CPP government made sure of that. Take a good look at the regional map of Ghana. The coastal areas of the Volta Region consisting of Anloga, Keta, Aflao, Denu and going up to Peki, Tsibu, Awudome, etc. were never part of the German colony of Togoland but are, today, parts of the Volta Region. These areas had been part of the Gold Coast since about the 1850s. Further north, parts of the present day Northern and Upper East regions were part of the erstwhile TVT but are not, today, part of Volta Region. The CPP government simply took the erstwhile TVT and divided it into several regions and added parts of the erstwhile Gold Coast to some of these regions. Just like in the case of the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions, there may have been some strategic reasons behind this move. Today, the erstwhile TVT can be found in three different regions. How can they succeed in seceding?

If you look at the map of the erstwhile TVT, you will notice that its southern border is a straight line just below Ho. This is one more evidence of the saying that in the scramble for Africa, the colonial powers used “ruler and pencil” to carve out Africa among themselves. The borders of the erstwhile TVT cut the Ewes in two “by heart”. That was why areas like Peki, Tsibu and even Kpeve, whose Ewe likens that of the “northern Ewes” found themselves in the Gold Coast whereas nearby Ho found itself in German Togoland.

German Togoland included the whole of Togo and the erstwhile TVT. The Germans colonized it for some 25 years until the First World War when the British and the French pushed them out of the area as part of their war effort. They then divided the area between themselves. The British administered their part from the Gold Coast.

After the Second World War, the UN mandated the area as a trust territory for the British to look over.

Akosombo Dam in the Volta region

Akosombo Dam in the Volta region

They called it Trans Volta Togoland and added it to the Gold Coast, though as a separate entity. When Gold Coast independence was imminent, the British informed the UN they would not be able to continue administering the territory after Gold Coast became free. It was then that the controversial plebiscite was held and the people of the TVT voted to become part of the Gold Coast and formally did so in December 1956 in time for independence in March 1957. The French, however, continued to administer the French Togoland until they were forced to grant it independence in 1960.

Number 9 has been repeated by Ghanaians till today to refer to Voltarians in a derisive and derogatory manner. Those who say it, see Voltarians as backward and the 9th and last region of Ghana. It is often said that when a lie is repeated continuously it gains an element of truth. People have either refused or are unwilling to accept or learn the history of “Number 9”. The Bible states that for lack of knowledge my people perish.

Today, there is a poorly maintained statue of Miss Monica Amekoafia (now deceased) in front of the Post Office in Hohoe in the Volta Region. It commemorates her victory in the beauty pageant of 1957. I wonder how many of Hohoe’s citizens who pass by this statue every day know that it is the young lady’s victory in the year of our independence that is the cause of their region being called “Number 9”.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads
Email: stephen.owusu@email.com

Pɛpɛɛni, ntaafuo, eblutor and the prejudices we have of each other

A few weeks ago, there was an interesting discussion on Ghanaweb following Charles Agbenu’s article in which he castigated all Ghanaians who regard themselves as not being northerners for looking down on people of “northern extraction” in Ghana. Agbenu’s article was a politically motivated one but the issues it raised concern us all as Ghanaians and the way we think of each other.

One of the points of contention in Agbenu’s article had to do with the true meaning, or otherwise, of the Twi terms PƐPƐƐNI and NTAAFUO. This follows another ghanaweb columnist, Kofi Ata’s argument that the two terms did not, originally, have any negative connotations. Kofi Ata had written an article in which he said his mother had told him that PƐPƐƐNI came about as a result of Akans who perceived Northerners who had come south in search of employment as people who were truthful and did things “pɛpɛɛpɛ” (exactly or fairly). He added that they were referred to as NTAAFUO because they always moved in pairs like twins”.

regions of Ghana

regions of Ghana

Many commentators saw this explanation as very illuminating. This led to a rejoinder to Agbenu’s article that appeared the day after. Kofi Ata’s explanation of how the two terms came about was, indeed, interesting. But it had a few problems. In the first place, there was no way of establishing the fact that what Kofi Ata’s mother told him (Kofi Ata) constituted the unvarnished truth and was, indeed, how the terms came about. Other commentators said their mothers and grandmothers told them different stories. Some said pɛpɛni came about because these migrants were perceived as miserly (“pɛpɛɛnfuo”) and they were called ntaafuo because they bought similar items in the market as you would buy similar dresses for twins. What this shows is that it is only a properly conducted research work that can establish the correct etymology of the terms. The only thing we can be sure of is what their current usages denote in Ghanaian society.

Another fact is that no matter how the terms originated, they came about as nicknames for a group of people who never called themselves by those names. These people, having lived long in their new areas, came to know the names by which their hosts called them. They either did not like these names or did not care. Then there is this thing about nicknames. Even though they can be given to denote positive traits, they are most often given to denote negative traits.

Agbenu Charles also equated the terms “pɛpɛɛni” and “ntaafuo” with what he termed as their

Ewe dancers

Ewe dancers

equivalents in the other major Ghanaian languages. He said the Ewes call Northerners “dzogbedzitor” and the Gas say “senu”. The Ewe commentators went up in arms against Agbenu arguing that the Ewe term was not equivalent to the Akan terms. They said the Ewe term only denotes people who come from the grasslands or Sahara or a dry place and no abusive connotations are involved.

The Akans have a word for Northerners that can be said to be neutral: ESREMFUO (ESREMNI singular). The literal meaning is the same as the Ewe equivalent: people from the grasslands. Nobody who uses the term “esremfuo” can be accused of trying to look down on people from the North unless the person intentionally gives it a twist that makes it so.

The Ga term for Northerners, “Sanu” is said to be the shortened form of the Hausa greeting: “Sanu kede?” (How are you?) It is not, exactly, neutral.

13616_2014_12_MOESM1_ESMThe thing to be noted here is that any term used to denote some other people as different from us can, very easily, degenerate to a notion of “different and inferior”.  This is often so when it is the dominant and more powerful group that is marking the difference. That is why people have fought segregation (separate development) everywhere. And that also explains why the whites who come to live among us in Ghana do not quite like it when we call them “obroni”, “blofo” or “yevu” until they come to realise that we do not mean anything offensive by those terms. Even so, the supposed original meanings of the terms may not exactly be complimentary to the white man. The Twi term “obroni” begun as two words “(a)bro ni” (wicked man) and the Ewe term “a-yevu” means a cunning dog “the one who feigns niceness and bites you”, as Yaa Gyasi puts it in her much praised debut novel (HOMEGOING). I have not been able to find out how the Ga “blofo” came about. But, as with pɛpɛɛni and ntaafuo, the true origins of all these terms may have been lost.

There are other terms we all use to refer to each other whether for good or for bad. In Kumasi, there is Anwona. This is a corruption of the correct pronunciation of Anlo which is beyond most Twi speakers. The “nw” is a nasal sound as in the Twi “anwanwado” (amazing love). It has no negative connotations…

The Ewes call all Twi speakers “eblutorwo”. I have not been able to find out how this term came about. It seems the Ewes themselves don’t quite know how they came to call all Akans “eblutorwo”. If you ask any Ewe if the term is derogatory, they are quick to say it is not. But, again, from the contention of denoting otherness explained above, any term a people use to denote another people can easily degenerate to the regard of those other people as inferior. But, surely, Ewes do not regard Akans as inferior! Or, do they?

“Eblutorwor” seems to be the counterpart of “ayigbefuo” which many Akans will tell you is not

derogatory. Ga legend has it that when they were migrating to the present day Ghana, the chief

Homowo festival of the Ga people

Homowo festival of the Ga people

who had the royal stool in his keeping lost his way and gradually settled in what is now Anecho in present day Togo. When the Gas realised this, they sent emissaries to the “lost tribe” to retrieve the stool. But the chief of the “lost tribe”, known as Ayi, refused to hand over the stool. The emissaries came back to report this as “Ayi gbe” (“gbe” being the Ewe word for “refuse”). They said Ayi said “megbe” (I refuse). The combination of “Ayi” and “megbe” came to be used to refer to Ewes as “ayigbe”. Since the chief refused to hand over something that did not, technically, belong to him, he was said to have stolen it. This gave rise to “ayigbe dzulor” – a negative epithet that clouds all Ewes in the imagination of some non-Ewes. Whether this story is true or not, today, Akans join Gas to call Ewes “ayigbe”. Indeed, and one is more likely to hear “ayigbeni” or “ayigbefuo” than “ayigbenyo”. Perhaps it may be that the Akans, finding it almost impossible to correctly pronounce the word “Ewe”, took to the relatively easier to pronounce “ayigbe” even though the sound produced by “gb”, common in many West African languages, does not naturally occur in Twi.

Today, it is more politically correct to refer to the people of the Volta Region as “Voltarians” in an

Northerners of Ghana

Northerners of Ghana

effort to prevent the mistake of regarding all citizens of the region as Ewes when only about half the population are Ewes. The term also clouds the myriad differences among the Ewes just like pɛpɛɛni and ntaafuo disregard all the differences among the peoples of the three northern regions of Ghana. The use of the term “Anlo-Ewe” to refer to the coastal Ewes does seem to be of recent origin and employed mainly by non-Ewes. The Anlos call themselves “ANLOS” (nothing more) and their fellow Ewes also call them ANLOS (nothing more). Even so, there are still many Akans who think Ewes are a homogeneous group all of who eat “akple and fetri-detsi”. But many Ewes are aware of the broader differences among the Akans – Asante and Fante in particular but also and Kwahu and Akuapem.

An instance of the majority laying claim to what is normal can be found for the term that Akans have for minority (?) languages they do not understand. The people who speak them are said to “potor” and the languages known as “potorkasa”. Some people say the term is not derogatory and refers to all non-Twi languages including even English. Others say there is a derogatory tinge to it as it originally referred to Northerners who had come to Ashantiland and who spoke poor Twi– “wonmo potor kasa no”.

There is an Ewe equivalent, especially among the mid-Volta Ewes. The speakers of the minority languages there (Likpe, Buem, Akpafu, etc) are called “fiafialawo”. These people do not speak: they “fia”. The Ewe term is somewhat derogatory and is not used for major languages like Twi, Ga or English. There is a historical example in the ancient world. The Roman and Hellenic civilisations regarded non-Greek languages as unintelligible. They sounded “baaa baaa” to “civilized” ears. This is how “non-civilized” tribes became known as –  barbarians!

Ashanti Chief at Akwasidae Kese celebrations

Ashanti Chief at Akwasidae Kese celebrations

There are other prejudices the various ethnic groups hold of each other. Akans think Ewes like juju, they have low self-confidence, and they are envious of Akans. Ewes think Akans (especially Asantes) like money too much and like to boast of it. But the Asantes think it is the Kwahus who worship money and will do anything for it. Ewes frown on the display of wealth and will prefer the rich to keep a low profile. Akans say Ewes hide their wealth because they are afraid of being “jujued” by their fellows. The two prejudices fit each other and give rise to some cyclical reasoning. If Ewes dislike the way Akans boast of, and flaunt, their wealth, it stands to reason that they (Ewes) should keep a low profile with their wealth. And if the Akan prejudice about Ewes is that the latter like juju, then the only reason why the Ewe person will not flaunt his wealth is the fear of being done in. Of course, times have changed. Everyone likes material wealth and wants to boast of it when attained. Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bed?

Prejudices, psychologists tell us, are ready made schemas we employ to meet what we do not know. They are normal to the human race and found in all societies. Since they are often formed prior to any supporting evidence, they can lead us astray. It is when we base our behaviour on them that things can go wrong. And using them for political advantage can be detrimental to the effort of building a strong nation that benefits all of us.
By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads.

*I want to express my deepest sense of gratitude to my Ewe friend who provided immense information on the Ewes during the writing of this piece.*

Touring Ghana – Part 9….

Volta Region

Lake Volta

With rolling hills and valleys, rocky outer crops overlooking Lake Volta, lagoons, rivers and waterfalls, beautiful and serene beaches, mangrove swamps and tropical rainforests, the Volta region is home to one of Ghana’s best nature sceneries and one of the few places you can experience almost every tropical climate in West Africa. Boasting a rich diversity of history and culture and a vibrant people, a trip to this easterly part of Ghana is one you’ll unlikely forget.

Getting there

If coming from Accra or Kumasi, then STC buses are the ideal mode of transport to the Volta region, going to cities like Ho, Hohoe and Aflao. Trotros from major parts of Ghana go to these places as well.

Where to stay

imagesFHBZLSEZ

The Volta region has beautiful accommodation that really makes you feel like part of the place. With many hotels, b&bs and lodge houses to choose from, there’s something to suit everyone’s budget. Some of the best places to stay include the Wli Water Heights in Hohoe, Meet Me There in Dzita, Roots Yard in Peki, Biakpa Mountain Paradise in Biakpa, Vilcamba Hotel in Denu and Chances Hotel in Ho.

Things to do

One is spoilt for choice when it comes to activities to do in this part of Ghana as the region has a number of interesting places definitely worth visiting. Start off by exploring the dramatic grottos and caves etched in limestone that dot the region. These include the ancestral caves of Likpe, the grottos of Kpanda in Agbehoe & Aziavi, the caves of Nyagbo, Logba and Alepafu.

Get stuck in the history of the region by visiting the old Keta-Krachi Slave Route which served as a vital slave port in colonial times. Now completely submerged in the Volta Lake, nothing remains of this town except three buildings. Also worth a visit is Fort Prinzenstein in Keta built by the Danish traders in 1784. It served as a dungeon for slaves awaiting transportation to the Caribbean, and still stands today.

imagesTEZT48UH

Next, grab yourself a bargain by heading to the Dzemeni Market on the bank of Lake Volta where one can find great quality fabric and beads. It’s also a great place to witness local like as the market also serves as a place to trade mostly basic goods and livestock. Agbozume village is famous for their beautiful hand-woven kente cloth. Here you can witness weavers at work.

If you love a little adventure then get hiking and trekking on some of the numerous hills and mountains that dot the region. Mountain Dzebobo, Adukulu and Mount Afadjato (the highest mountain in Ghana) offer challenging climbs that is well rewarded with some spectacular scenes of the region as well as colourful birds, butterflies and monkeys that habit these mountains. You can also head to the Volta Estuary to see some of the region’s indigenous wildlife. The estuary provides scenic beauty with river and ocean beaches and its sand bars which serves as resting ground for seabirds and endangered species of twitter. Other wildlife reserves worth visiting are the Keta-Angaw Lagoon Basin, Tafi Monday Village and the Kyabobo National Park.

If all the activities above have made you tired then relax in the Keta District, which has some of the most beautiful and clean beaches in West Africa. The best ones can be found in the Volta Estuary Areas from Azizanu to Atiteti, Cape St. Paul in Woe, Tegbi, Anloga and the Kedzi Areas. Another distinctive feature of the Volta region is its waterfalls. Often set in attractive wooded or mountain settings, the waterfalls, such as Wli Falls, in Wli Nature Reserve, Tagbo Falls near Liati Wote, Tsatsadu Falls near Hohoe and a few others make for a spectacular viewing.

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Finally, really get to know the people and culture of the Volta region by getting stuck in many of their festivals held all year round. With over 10 tribes occupying the region, all with their distinctive language and customs, these festivals filled with pageantry and pomp have varying activities such as purification ceremonies, a durbur of chiefs,, singing dancing, kente weaving, drumming and pouring of libation.

Now you can’t say goodbye to the region without trying some of the region’s traditional dishes. A must try is the region’s famous Volta tilapia with akple or akple with okro soup. Equally tasty is abolo with shrimps and ‘one man thousand’ (kapenta fish). Polish these dishes off with a shot of akpeteshie or palm wine and you’ll never want to leave!

Yaa Nyarko (@Yaayaa_89)

 

Kente ; Ghana’s National Cloth

The History of the Kente

KENTE as we all know is a beautiful and symbolic type of nwentoma (woven cloth) that is entirely hand-woven on a wooden loom, which is operated by the weaver’s hands and feet. Its vibrant colours and symbolic patterns define the Kente cloth.

The word kente is derived from ‘kenten’, which translates to “basket”. It is largely known that the Kente cloth originaly stemmed from the Ashantis (of Bonwire in the outskirts of Kumasi), however today it is being woven not only in the Ashanti region but also in the Volta region by the Ewes. Legend has it that the Kente cloth was first designed by 2 friends mimicking the techniques of a spider they observed weaving its web.

It is believed that the Kente cloth has been around since the 17th century and has been an important part of the Ghanaian culture ever since. In the olden days Kente was exclusively worn by King’s and Queens; TODAY Kente is being worn not only across AFRICA but it is also being increasingly incorporated into western fashion.

Imbedded in each Kente cloth is a story with a proverbial meaning, which makes every design unique! There are about 50 different types of Kente patterns. Here are the meanings for some of the designs;

  • Adwini Asa – (“All motifs are used up”)
  • Abusua Ye Dom – (“The extended family is a force”)
  • Fa Hia Kotwere Agyemang – (“Lean your poverty on Agyemang”)
  • Sika Fre Mogya – (“Money attracts blood relations”)
  • Obi Nkyre Obi Kwan Mu Si – (“Sooner or later one would stay in the path of the other”)
  • Fathia Fata Nkrumah – (“Nkrumah merit Fathia”)
  • Emmada – (Novelty; what we have not seen or heard before”)
  • Oyokoman Na Gya Da Mu – (“Crisis in the Oyoko Nation”)
  • Obaakofo Mmu Man – (“One head does not rule a nation or constitute a council)

 

Colours to design each cloth are chosen carefully for both their symbolic and visual effects;

  • Yellow – is a symbol for things that are holy and precious, royal, fertile and beautiful
  • Pink – symbolises gentle qualities (e.g. calmness)
  • Red – stands for blood and for strong political and spiritual feelings
  • Maroon – associated with the colour of mother Earth; it represents healing and protection from evil
  • Blue – stands for the sky and is used to symbolise holiness, peace, harmony, good fortune and love
  • Green – is associated with plants and stands for growth and good health
  • Gold – symbolises royalty, glory, wealth and spiritual purity
  • White – stands for purity and healing
  • Black – stands for aging because in nature things get darker as they get older; black also stands for strong spiritual energy and the spirits of the ancestors
  • Grey – represents ashes, which are used for spiritual cleansing
  • Silver – is a symbol for the moon and stands for serenity, purity and joy
  • Purple – is associated with Earth and healing; also associated with gentle qualities

Kente became Ghana’s national cloth on the 6th of March 1957- the day Ghana celebrated independence.

Nora Mitersky