Here you can see an elderly local lady wearing a precious stone in her chin. This is a local tradition, but we only saw the older women with this. The stones can be removed and is there purely for decoration.
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.
The sacrifice we saw here in Kouadangou, was to celebrate the New Year: new year = new blood.
In Kouadangou village itself, there were a few facilities for tourists, including this public toilet. There seems to be one cubicle for ‘number one’ and one cubicle for ‘number two’. Bring your own toilet paper and if you are only doing a ‘number one’, there is nowhere to place the paper, so make sure you have a sealable plastic bag with you for disposing of the paper responsibly later. That goes for all over West Africa. Beware of splash-back from the hard concrete floor!
The Baobab tree is so sacred to the Bassamba that they often build shrines near the base of the trees. This shrine was alongside the country track we walked along in the morning, some distance from the village itself. The guide explained to us that the shrine protects the whole village and sacrifices often take place here to appease the gods, ask for a favour from the deity or simply to give thanks. There is also an annual festival that takes place at the shrine. Foreigners are not allowed to enter the area.
In the morning we went for a walk along the country lane, and saw one of the many bush fires in Togo. This is not an accidental fire, the burning is carried out deliberately to kill off the grass and encourage new growth for the livestock to eat. We saw this in many places all over West Africa.
The Bassamba people are animist, and as such they worship various animate and non-animate objects, such as the Baobabs tree. The tree is considered sacred to them and they build their homes near to or alongside a baobab tree. We also pitched our camp right next to a Baobab tree.
The Baobab Tree. Also popularly known as the Upside-Down-Tree. Some places it is also known as the Monkey Bread Tree. One of the great wonders of Africa, and one of my lasting memories from this continent. It is such a versatile tree, with many uses both for nature and man. The tree is capable of storing huge amounts of water in its trunk – up to 120,000 litres in fact.
Uses for man from the baobab tree include:
Leaves can be eaten as a vegetable
Leaves are also ground to a powder
The dry pulp of the fruit is eaten either as it is or in a porridge
Seeds are used to thicken soups
Seeds are also used to produce vegetable oil
The trunk is used as fuel
The branches and trunk are used to produce fibre