I was impressed by Ghanaian courtesy. Drivers stop for you to cross the street, people queue up, everyone says 'hello, how are you' to shop assistants and waiters. At the Ghalebon hotel, the first rule was 'Any breach of good manners is a breach of hotel regulations'.
I hope to take this lesson home where everyone is much more brusque!
I love the different hairstyles available to fashion-conscious young black girls. If you think African girls are limited to tight curly hair, think again! Hair dressing salons would advertise the different designs on large posters outside their stalls. These are just a selection of the numerous different styles we saw throughout our travels there.
The word sacrifice comes from an old English expression “to make sacred”, and sacrifice is part of everyday life in rural Ghana. Sacrifice is basically making an offering in the form of food, drink or an animal to appease the gods and is used in traditional religions all over the world. We saw evidence of chickens being sacrificed, as well as skulls of goats. In the past, it has been reported that human sacrifice took place, although any current involvement in this outlawed activity is vehemently denied.
Female circumcision, more popularly known as genital mutilation, involves the removal of part of the female genitalia. Sometimes all the genitalia is also removed. In Ghana, the most common form this takes is a procedure known as excision which include removal of the external female genitals to create an open wound. This is then stitched together form a cover over the vagina when they heal. A small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to escape. Although this process is discouraged, it is believed that some 75% of rural girls are circumcised at puberty.
Please note that the pictures have NOTHING to do with female circumcision! They are purely photos of young girls in and around Ghana!
It is customary everywhere in rural Ghana to greet the chief and gain permission before entering the village. You cannot speak directly to the chief, so in order to speak to the chief, we would ask Noah to ask his translator who would ask the chief’s assistant who would ask the chief! Confused? You soon will be. In one of the villages we did not follow this protocol, and were chased out of the village by a young man with a gun!
Witchcraft really does exist in Africa. It is part of everyday life.
Witchcraft is something that usually happens during a period of your life when you are experiencing problems and you need some extra strength. A few people are born with it, and may not even know that they are possessed by evil spirits. Others are born with the curse through family ‘inheritance’. Then there are the cruel and lazy people who seek out witchcraft because of jealousy or resentment. Witchcraft is described as ‘the use of certain kinds of alleged supernatural or magical powers.’ In Ghana there are two types of witchcraft: The healer who treats diseases, originally described as "one who diagnoses and cures maladies caused by witches". They consult the spiritual world for their solutions; although they can cause both harm and good if they so wish. Secondly is the evil witch who will cause harm in the community by way of supernatural means. They just destroy.
The photos all show witches in Gnani village
The so called calabash container is named after the calabash tree. It is the fruit or gourd which is used to make the containers so widely used throughout Africa (and other parts of the world), and is one of the earliest cultivated trees in the world grown not for food but for utilities. The fruit is hollowed out and dried and it is used for cleaning rice, carrying water and also just as a food container. Small gourds are used as bowls to drink palm-wine (see Off the Beaten Path tips for more details). It is also used to make certain musical instruments.
The calabash is considered sacred, and will not be thrown away, even if damaged.
The Ghanaians are masters at recycling. We think we are good in the West, but we are just playing at it compared with these people! Look at these sandals for instance, they are crafted out of used car tyres!
In Ghana you never see mothers pushing their babies in pushchairs or prams like you do in Europe, they are carried on their mother’s back in a piece of cloth draped tightly around her waist, with just the baby’s head sticking out.
This is a very emotive subject and one which I hasten to add, we saw absolutely no evidence of whatsoever. Unfortunately, it does go on though. Quoting National Geographic: West Africa is one of the areas that are the most exploited by criminals who sell people into modern-day slavery. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), some 200,000 children are trafficked out of western and central Africa each year. UNICEF defines child trafficking as the transportation and exploitation of unwilling or unknowing children, often for slave labor or sex work.
Please note that the children in the photographs are nothing to do with the text and just happened to be by the side of the road in a village where we stopped.
Running water is scarce in rural Ghana, so many people will go to the river to wash themselves and their clothes. Picture one shows ladies doing their laundry in a stream a few miles along the coast from Accra.
Photo number two is of children having fun whilst also washing their bodies.
Pictures three and four are of women washing their clothes in water brought from the well in buckets, near Domongo in Northern Ghana.
The clean clothes will be either spread out on the ground to dry or hung across any suitable nearby bushes or trees.
We saw these little carts carrying out waste collections in a couple of villages along the route, and found them really fascinating. What a great idea! Beats the large, cumbersome waste collection carts found in the west!
Women in nearly all the rural areas, as well as many urban cities, carry a huge bowl like this as their ‘handbag’. It can hold anything and everything – vegetables or meat bought in the market, water from the well, firewood, washing for the river ‘laundry’, good to be sold at the market or goods bought at the market. The options are endless.
Many rural villagers will make distinguishing marks on their young children to show which ethnic group or village they belong to. These marks are made with a knife and are a permanent reminder of their cultural heritage and give them a sense of belonging as well as making it easy for others to see where they hail from.
In a lot of places, electricity is ‘optional’. Many better establishments have their own generators, which is very helpful, as the power supply is not always reliable. There are frequent outages, and often surges and dips in the electricity supply.
Sockets are three pin type, either the traditional Ghanaian style or the more modern British.
As you can see from picture two, the health and safety standards are not the same as back home.
More Regions in Ghana