The Songor Lagoon, the biggest natural salt mining area in Ghana, has a great impact on the lives of the people in the area as it is an important economic source, a religious ground and has a political undertone. It touches the lives of everybody around and is sometimes even an issue for national politics.
At this communal salt field you can watch locals at all stages of salt production: from inducing salt water from the ocean into the pans, the crystallization when it dries to washing and packing the salt into bags and loading them unto trucks. Although this communal work is still in place today, the changes can already be witnessed. Some big companies have started operation there and might suppress individual miners by and by. Also the lack of official land titles leads to tensions and difficulties among miners.
Apart from having a look at the salt mining activities, it is also a nice place for watching the wintering European birds. The Wildlife Division has put up some observation towers and offers guided tours to the sight.
Funerals happen very frequently and it is common to see people walking around in the mourning colours black, white and red on weekends.
The celebration follows a strict schedule: On Friday the corpse is brought to the family house accompanied by songs of brass bands and the ceremony starts. During this ceremony, usually things are done that the deceased person did during his or her life. The mourners continue the ceremony until Saturday morning.On Saturday the corpse is buried accompanied by drumming and music before and after the burial. Throughout the whole ceremony, the sympathizers are expected to make a contribution that is noted precisely. Most funerals take place at the end of the month, when salaries are paid and the expensive celebration can be afforded. Family members bring different items such as perfume or other useful things to the grave that were important to the person who died and might be needed by him or her.
On Sunday, the guests attend a thanksgiving church service in memory of the deceased in case it is a Christian funeral and give thanks. If it is a traditional funeral, the ceremony is continued until the afternoon when the guests depart.
For more information check the Ada Tourism website: http://ada-tourism.com
There are three markets in the area with different market days.
There is a big market in Kasseh on Tuesdays and Fridays where you can get just about anything you can imagine. From Ada Foah take the Tro-Tro in the direction of Accra and get off at the market place at Kasseh.
A smaller market in Ada Foah on Wednesdays and Saturdays is good for buying fresh vegetables and seafood and some smaller supplies.
The Wednesday market in Anyanui is small but less chaotic than the one in Kasseh. You can combine a market visit in Anyanui with a ferry tour. Leave Ada Foah at 8 in the morning and witness how the sellers already start their business on The ferry. It will return to Ada Foah at around 3 pm, always depending on when the ferry is full.
For more information check the Ada Tourism website: http://ada-tourism.com
You have to get up early to see the monkeys (Spot-Nose monkey and Green Monkey) on so called "Monkey Island" in the Volta River. During the day they stay away from the villages and retreat far into the woods, but if you manage to arrive around 6.30 a.m. you can watch them from one of the watchtowers that were built for this purpose. A major project by international organizations started establishing ecotourism on the island some years ago. One of the aspects was to create alternative sources of income to promote the conservation of the monkeys. Though the place might need some maintenance, it is very beautiful and special to walk along the thick forest path early in the morning.
A local taboo provides sea turtles traditional protection. They are revered to as gods in the lives of the local people of Ada and are therefore not to be touched, killed or eaten. However, some non-natives of Ada living within and near Ada to whom sea turtles are not their totem poach nesting sea turtles for meat or sale. To prevent the turtles from being killed, the local Wildlife Division takes up measures such as night time patrols and surveys, research and relocation of threatened turtle eggs and rescuing of threatened turtles.
Every year from August to February the Leatherback turtle, Green turtle and Olive Ridley turtle lay their eggs at the seashore. The main nesting areas are the islands/sandspit between the two estuaries and beaches westward of the estuary. Visitors can witness this fascinating sight of the huge turtles coming out of the water and nesting in the sand.
Night tours are organized by the Wildlife Division.
Long, sandy beaches with coconut trees and fishermen with their boats and nets make up the picture of the Ada seaside. At the estuary, where the Volta River and ocean are very close by, you can swim either in the calm and shallow river or the ocean. There are very nice beaches close to the estuary as well as further west along the coast.
The Volta River Estuary is the place where the waters of the sea and the river join. The original estuary was shifted across the Volta River towards the other side by the force of the waves. As a consequence, this original site was dredged open by the Volta River Authority to reopen the estuary and allow salt water to enter the river.
When the missionaries came to Ghana in the 19th century they faced harsh conditions that they were not adapted to. Many died very young of various tropical diseases. These missionaries were buried at the cemetery next to the Presbyterian church in Ada Foah. This cemetery that was reserved to reverend ministers, missionaries and important church-related people was also the last resting place for Presbyterians from the Volta Region. An additional cemetery closer to the ocean was built for foreign traders and seamen. One chief also attempted to secure himself a picturesque grave site there and built the grave already during his living time. But unfortunately, the people were against it and when he died his authority died with him and he was buried at the chief cemetery like this was supposed to be. So still today the empty grave with a big cross on top is waiting there for being used.
The Presbyterian Church in Ada Foah is a missionary church that was built by the first generation of Ghanaian Christians at around 1890.
It never used to be close to the shore but with the approaching ocean it has now a seaside location. Some holy places of the chapel have already been washed to the sea. There also used to be a cross on top of the tower which was destroyed during a lightening.
Only few people know where Ada Foah has got its name from. The reason is the fort near the Presbyterian church that gave the town its name to distinguish the two Adas: Ada Fort, village of the fort.
Fort Kongenstein was built by the Danish traders in 1783 to defend their trading post against the attacking neighboring tribes. Trade was one of the main sources of income and there were also large warehouses for storing the trading goods. But unfortunately, these buildings all disappeared into the sea. Later when the Europeans had left, the buildings were used as a prison and police station.
As the sea comes closer more than 1.5 meters each year, it is gradually washing the building into the ocean. Half of it is already eroded but hopefully the upcoming construction of the sea defense wall will stop this progress.
Little stone figures standing at the entrance doors and a cloth that serves as a door show you that this is a traditional shrine. Some shrines also have a rope or wooden structure that one has to step over when entering. What is also associated with shrines are bones, bottles of Schnapps (for pouring of libation), drums and figures of deities that are sometimes embraced as a sign of respect. There are also certain taboos connected to the shrine and rituals that have to be performed by the priest or elders.
The two major shrines in Big Ada, Dada shrine and Dasuma shrine. The Dada shrine is a place for whole Ada to worship. Warriors used to come there in former times to prepare for war and seek protection from the shrine. You can go for a tour around the shrine where the priest will introduce you to traditional religion or offer a goat for a ritual to be performed to see the gods.
The two shrines in Big Ada were closely connected to Trokosi, or girl child slavery. In this traditional perception, a crime is atoned for when a girl of the offender's family is sent to a shrine to serve the gods. This can be for months, but also for many years. Although this
practice was legally abolished in 1998, there are still some groups who want to hold on to this tradition. Other opposing groups on the other hand have put much effort into the liberation of the girls and their education and reintegration into society.
Every shrine has its priest who takes care of it and worships the gods in it. One priest that can be visited in the area is Madame Mamishie Rasta. She heals by asking the gods about the sickness and what treatment she shall impose.
Visitors are welcome to visit “Mami Rasta” at her shrine, offer a live chicken to her crocodiles or take part in the spiritual drumming sessions that are open to everyone and take place every Friday at around 3pm.
The annual Asafotufiami festival is one of the biggest events in the region. It celebrates ancient wars and draws a big crowd of people to Ada.
Historically, the Asafotufiami is a remembrance of ancient wars with neighboring tribes such as the Ewe. The "Asafotu" are companies of warriors who fire their muskets in celebration. These days, the festival is a grand homecoming for the Ada diaspora.
The celebration starts on Thursday in the first week of August and goes on until the following week. Young men are initiated and instructed in the ancient tactics of warfare, the paramount chief of Ada and the chiefs of the various clans gather for processions and speeches and parties and celebrations continue throughout the whole festival. On Sunday, there is an open air church service and the following days are filled with beach parties, boat races, river excursions and football matches.