Salaga Slave Market: A historical market of iron and shackles

You probably have read a lot about the brutal 19th Century slave trade involving Africa, Europe and the Americas where Africans were taken from their homes and shipped to the Americas like Cargoes to work in plantations and manufacturing firms.

But even before this era, slave trade did exist in Africa in the 16th and 17th century, though under very humane conditions compared to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

One of the very few evidence of the existence of slave trade in Africa before the 19th century can be found in Salaga, specifically at a location now known as the Salaga Slave Market.

The Salaga slave market located in Salaga, the administrative capital of the Gonja East district in the Northern Region used to be an important West African city where traders from the northern part of Africa met with West African traders to trade in commodities such as cowries, beads, textiles, animal hide and gold.

However, in the later part of the 18th century, the nature of trade in Salaga changed to include the exchange of humans for commodities. People were sold to traders coming from the northern part of Africa in exchange for commodities like cowries, fine textile and leather.

The traders from the North who preferred to be paid with humans, mostly used them as house helps or assistants who would assist them in running their day to day trading activities, it was devoid of brutalities or violent as the sold slaves were generally treated well.

With the arrival of the Europeans in the eighteenth century and commencement of the dreaded Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Salaga slave market shifted its focus from trading with traders from the north to trading with Europeans who offered more for their slaves.

Today, the Salaga slave market is a pale shadow of itself, lacking in vibrant commercial activities and has been turned into motor park. Aside the Slave market, Salaga also boasts of other slave monuments including a famous slave cemetery and a slave warehouse. The slave warehouse was used to house and keep the slaves captive until they were transported to the coastal areas and sold off to the Europeans living on the coasts.

For any tourist wanting to learn more about slavery and how slave markets and centres looked like, Salaga, a town once famous for its trade in slaves and its vibrancy as a West African trading centre, is a must visit.

Thailand’s ‘Nzulezu’ Koh Panyi: Where football is played on water

Koh Panyi is a small village located in the Phang Nga Province in Thailand, noted for its stilt nature. The small fishing village is built on water with structures such as houses, schools, restaurants all supported by stilts which stand firmly rooted in the water just as the Nzulezu village in the Western Region of Ghana.

The village is never short of visitors as thousands of tourists regularly make their way to there everyday to see this unique and amazing town and its people who live their entire life in houses built on water.

Koh Panyi
Koh Panyi

And if you ever thought living on water meant they would be deprived of some of the finest and best sporting activities in the world, you are definitely wrong. The latest addition to their many facilities is a football pitch. Yes you read that right, A FOOTBALL PITCH.

The people have managed to build for themselves a small football pitch on the water capable of hosting five-a-side matches and it is an incredible sight to behold as the young kids in the village take to this strange pitch to kick football every day.

Here are a few photos we managed to get you from the newly created football park that hosts the village’s matches.

Koh Panyi football pitch
Koh Panyi football pitch
Koh Panyi football pitch
Koh Panyi football pitch

Dodi World: Luxurious cruise on Dodi Princess II, Music, Watersports, Kiddi Playground and unending list of fun activities

Dodi Princess Island, now Dodi World, is one of the few places in Ghana every Ghanaian family must make a trip to at least once in this lifetime, to enjoy the amazing and breathtaking experience the tourist destination has to offer.

Akesse Sanza on Dodi Princess II
Akesse Sanza on Dodi Princess II
Akesse Sanza on Dodi Princess II
Akesse Sanza on Dodi Princess II

Located in the Eastern region, the Island is situated in the middle of the second largest man-made lake, the Lake Volta, lying adjacent to the power-house of Ghana, the Akosombo Dam.

An estimated 1.3 million tourists visit the island every year by cruising on the iconic Dodi Princess II; a luxurious 150-passenger capacity cruise boat which carries tourists around the island amidst onboard entertainment, food, drinks and the “instagramable” views will not be missed by your cameras.

Dodi Princess II
Dodi Princess II
Residents commute on boat
Residents commute on boat
Free Wifi onboard Dodi Princess II
Free Wifi onboard Dodi Princess II

Dodi World provides an island adventure which includes a tour of game park and several beachfront activities. Boat riding and Jet Ski are just few of the several watersports tourists can enjoy.

At Dodi World, there is something for everyone, including children. The Kiddi Playground has been created on the island for kids to also have a good time partaking in safe sporting activities under the watchful eyes of tour guides who are well trained to keep your kids safe.

Kiddi Playground
Kiddi Playground
Unending list of Watersports at Dodi World
Unending list of Watersports at Dodi World
Dodi World
Dodi World

The island never runs out of music. After enjoying the live music onboard, you are met with two different sets of folk artistes on busking when you arrive on the island. They perform traditional folk musics and dances mainly from the Volta Regions.

Kwanpa Band, a VGMA award-winning band on Dodi Princess II
Kwanpa Band, a VGMA award-winning band on Dodi Princess II
Traditional musicians on busking
Traditional musicians on busking
Prepare to buy cheap fishes
Prepare to buy cheap fishes

Adansi Travels sends tourists on cruise experience to the Dodi island every Saturday. You can reach them on 0247067375. Mention JETSANZA for a discounted rate of GHS299 (adults) and GHS235 (children).

Endangered Primate Breeding Centre of Accra Zoo Receives Support

A wildlife and nature conservation non-governmental organisation (NGO), West Africa Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA), has  provided resources for the renovation and refurbishment of  the Endangered Primate Breeding Centre, an extension of the Accra Zoo.

The NGO which focuses on ensuring the survival of animals on the brink of extinction and helping renovate centres that house these animals made this known during a ceremony held in Accra.

The project manager of WAPCA, Mrs. Andrea Dempsey, said as part of the project, Ghana and the EU exchanged the rare Mangaebey and Roloway Geunon monkeys in a bid to promote interbreeding and maintain high genetic diversity, which increases the survival rate and growth of the monkeys.

The beneficiary institution of the project, the Accra Zoo, has been on the brink of collapse in recent years due to the lack of facilities and government support.

However manager of the Zoo, Mr. Tamanja, at the meeting with the NGO said the Accra Zoo found in the Achimota forest is still very much alive and receives huge patronage contrary to public perception that the Zoo is no longer functional.

Mr. Tamanja nevertheless admitted that animal reservation centres like the Accra Zoo needs help and urged more NGOs to emulate WAPCA in coming to the assistance of the Zoo and helping to refurbish the animal reserve centre.

WAPCA is an organisation formed by the Heidelberg Zoo in Germany and is funded by the membership of eleven European zoos

 

Kundum Festival of the Ahanta and Nzema People (See awesome photos)

The Kundum Festival is regarded as the oldest documented festival in the history of the Gold Coast. The first official documentation of the festival written in the early part of the 17th century by one Dutch voyager by name Bossman, who landed on the coast of Ghana (then Gold Coast). Bossman however believed the festival had been in existence for over a hundred years, in the late part of the 16th century before he chanced upon it to write the first known official document detailing its celebration.

The Festival is celebrated by the people of Ahanta and Nzema in the Central region of Ghana. Unlike most Ghanaian festivals which have specific commencement date and schedules, the Kundum festival does not have such, instead the start of the festival is based on the day the fruit of a certain type of Palm tree become ripe.

According to the people of Ahanta, the festival was instituted after one hunter by name Akpoley went to the forest for hunting and chanced upon a group of dwarfs dancing in well uniformed circular pattern. It is believed that the hunter, Akpoley, hid and observed the dance of the dwarfs, after which he went back to the Ahanta Township and introduced the new found dance to his people. Over time, the dance became associated with expelling evil spirit from the towns and Villages of the Ahanta and Nzema people.

As years went by and modernity set in, the kundum festival underwent several changes and became a festival celebrated to thank God for the abundance of food as well as protection of the people, hence making Kundum both a religious and harvest festival.

The festival lasts for a period of eight days and involves activities like drumming and feasting, as well as sacrifice of animals by the elders of the people. The sacrifice usually involves slaughtering of a fowl in a stool room by a few selected designated people who are normally elders of the town.

Another fowl is also slaughtered in public, at a durbar as a sacrifice to the gods and ancestors of the town, after which the ritual dance discovered by Akpoley is performed by the dancers and women of the town. The rest of the days are spent preparing food, eating and dancing.

The Ahanta and Nzema area receive thousands of guests every year during the celebration of the week –long festival. Most of whom are invited guests and tourists who come from afar to observe the tradition and festival.

Madame Tussauds: Where all public figures are waiting to have photos with you

Growing up, we all had dreams of meeting our childhood celebrities and role models. But sometimes we grow up only to realise the cringy hand of death has pulled them to the other side of life, or sometimes we just are not in a position to meet such cult figures one on one because of distance, finance, field of work and so many hindering factors.

But all hope is not lost, literally. What if I tell you there is another way you could ‘meet’ these celebrities and role models you so much dream to meet one day? Well, in a wax form.

That’s exactly the kind of experience the old famous Madame Tussauds museum offers people from all over the world.

The Madame Tussauds Museum, first opened in London, was founded by famous French sculptor Marie Grosholtz (later adopted his husband’s surname, Tussaud) in the late part of the 1800s. Marie who was born in 1761 spent her educational life learning wax modeling from mentor and teacher Dr. Curtius. By the age of twenty, she had become well known for her skills and knowledge in the art of wax modelling and was even employed as a tutor to the French Royal family.

After the death of her mentor and tutor, Dr. Curtius in 1794, Marie inherited his amazing collection of Wax models of war heroes, revolutionaries, royals and political figures famous at the time and began to tour Europe with them, organizing public exhibitions with them. She later renamed her exhibition as Madame Tussauds.  Unable to return home to France due to the Napoleonic wars, she finally settled in London as a permanent resident around 1830, and established the first Madame Tussauds Museum in the city of London.

Branches of the wax museum can be found in major cities around the world including the Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Pulau Ujong in Singapore where I recently visited and toured their Madame Tussauds Museums.

World renowned personalities like US president Donald Trump, Queen of talkshow, Oprah Winfrey, Basketball legends, and every person famous on this planet has their wax models in Madame Tussauds museums around the world.

Madame Tussauds Museums are one of the world’s most visited tourism destinations with people from all over the world travelling to different European, American and Asian cities to visit the famous wax models museums and take pictures with that celebrity or role model they wished but never had the chance to see.

Currently, Madame Tussaud Museums can be found in North America, Asia and Europe only, with branches yet to be established in any African country.

Tourist Sites in Ghana: Mole National Park

Located at Damongo, 146km south east of Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana, Mole National Park is a 12 hour journey by road from Accra.

One of the largest cities in the Savanna Region, Tamale has a couple of tourist attractions but the Mole National Park stands tall among the rest.

With the largest wildlife refuge, Mole National Park has been an attractive site for many in the country due to its unique species.

The current location of the Mole National Park was initially occupied by inhabitants of the Northern Region, however, they were relocated to pave way for the area to be used as a reserve.

Mole National Park
Mole National Park

The famous animals that can be found at the Mole National Park are the African bush elephants and antelopes. A study conducted on the Park indicates over 800 elephants can be found at the Park. In terms of tree species, Burkea Africana, Isoberlinia Doka, and Terminalia Macroptera are some of the species found in the forest.

While elephants and antelopes dominate the wildlife in the forest, animals such as buffalos and hippos can also be found in the forest even though very small in terms of population.

Monkeys have also made the Park their place of abode with the Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, the green vervet, and patas monkeys all residing at the park.

Animals such as lions and hyenas used to be found in the park, however these animals have gone distinct in the park over the last decade raising concerns about the survival of the forest in the coming years.

Being one of the last remaining wildlife forests in Ghana, the mole park attracts tourists from all walks of life, both from Ghana and outside, every year with an annual visitor population running into almost a million people. For animal lovers, the Mole National Park is a must visit tourism site to experience the beauty of nature.

Lake Volta: The Breathtaking site of the World’s Largest Man made reservoir

In 1961, Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah embarked on an ambitious project to construct the world’s largest water reservoir. At the time, the project was deemed overly ambitious and near-impossible by many who thought Nkrumah was going beyond the limit in terms of what the country can achieve or do.

However by 1965, Dr. Nkrumah against all odds had completed the grandest artificial lake in living memory. This grand achievement did not come without sacrifices. About 78,000 people had to be relocated from their place of abode as land covering over 3000 square miles were flooded as part of the project.

The lake’s northern-most point can be found close to the town of Yapei and its southern point at Akosombo Dam, which is also responsible for the generation of electrical power for the country. (Over the course of the years, other notable dams such as Bui Dam have produced electricity for the country).

The Lake even though was primarily created to serve as a source of power generation, has grown over the decades to become one of the finest tourism attractions in Ghana, attracting thousands of visitors from both Ghana and outside every year.

At the centre of the tourism is Dodi Island, a small Island town created as a result of the lake construction. The Island lies some five kilometres off the shore of the Lake Volta. Tourists usually cruise to the small isolated town which has a population of 600 people (2012).

The River Volta, an outflow of the Volta Lake also serves as another important tourism centre through the Adomi Bridge which is constructed over the river to connect Eastern Region to the Volta Region at Kpong.

Adomi Bridge on River Volta
Adomi Bridge on River Volta

Bonwire Kente Village: Home of Africa’s most popular cloth

Kente is undoubtedly Africa’s most popular cloth, worn by millions across the continent. While many can attribute its origin to Ghana, not many, including Ghanaians know the exact town or village it originated from.

If you have ever found yourself in that position, wondering the exact origin of Ghana’s most famous and oldest cloth, then you are just at the right place, for the right answer.

Kente according to historians originated from the small township of Bonwire in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipal District in the Ashanti Region.

The Town which has a population of about 11,000, was made famous for its commercial production of the Kente material. Unlike most towns in Ghana where a majority of the working population are into either farming or fishing, Kente weaving is the most dominant occupation in the Bonwire Township, with almost all the males in the working age group engaged in the craft.

This has also made Bonwire a huge tourist destination for tourists from different part of the world, who regularly visit Ghana and make trips to the town to see how the good old famous traditional cloth is woven.

Couple in Kente
Couple in Kente

Brief History of Kente

The first documented history of Kente dates back to the 17th Century AD, during the peak of the Ashanti Kingdom. However some historians trace the history of the cloth to as far back as 3000 BC, when African history wasn’t documented.

It is believed by these historians that weaving in Africa began in that period and it was from there that the weaving of Kente was learnt and improved upon by the Ashanti Kingdom. More complicated, the large chunk of the history of Kente is grounded in Legends and unverified stories rather than well researched and proven historical documents. For instance, one of such legends, claim a man named Ota Karaban from the town of Bonwire, learnt the art of kente weaving from a spider which was waving its web. He later weaved cloth using the same method learnt from the spider and after its success, told the chief of Bonwire about it. The Chief then passed on the news to the King of the entire kingdom, the Asantehene, who after seeing the beautiful piece of cloth, adopted it and declared it as the traditional and royal cloth of the whole Ashanti Kingdom.

While such stories cannot be confirmed, they have stood the test of time and have been passed on from one generation to another.

Bonwire, lying some 18km off the Mampong-Kumasi road, remains a great tourist destination where one can go and have a closer look at how this beautiful traditional cloth is produced.

Aboakyer Festival: Migration remembered through bushbuck hunting

The Aboakyer festival is celebrated by the people of Winneba in the Central region of Ghana. It is one of the most unique festivals in Africa, involving the hunting and capturing of a Bushbuck as part of the rituals of the festivals. This practice is embedded right in the name of the festival Aboakyer, which translates into ‘Hunting for animals’.

The festival regarded as one of the oldest in Ghana is celebrated to remember the Migration of the people of Winneba from Timbuktu in the North-Eastern part of Africa to their present home in Ghana.

According to ancient Winneba legend, the people were led by two brothers during their migration from far away Timkuktu to present day Ghana and were protected by a god known as Otu throughout their long journey. Upon arrival, a traditional priest who acted as a link between the god and the people of Winneba asked the god what the people could do to show appreciation. Otu is believed to have asked for an annual sacrifice of someone from the royal family.

This became the annual practice during the celebration and remembrance of the journey every year, but the people later got tired of sacrificing human lives as they believed they were gradually losing all members of the royal family. They then consulted the god to plead to him for a change in sacrifice. Their request was granted as the god asked them to present a live wildcat to the shrine as a sacrifice every year during the festival.

The hunting for wildcats also resulted in the loss of human lives as most of the hunters were killed by the hunted wildcats. The people were compelled to make a second appeal to the god, who this time around requested that they presented a matured Bushbuck as sacrifice.

Aboakyer Festival
Aboakyer Festival

The festival takes place in the month of May, the first Saturday of the month to be precise. During the festival, two warrior groups known locally as Asafo Group go out on a hunting expedition to catch a live Bushbuck. The hunting is done in a special game reserve, which has been set up solely for this purpose. The Asafo group that catches a Bushbuck first presents it to the chief and town people at a colourful durbar and is declared the winner. The animal is then slaughtered as a sacrifice to the god to show their appreciation for the protection it offered them centuries ago on their journey to Ghana.

This history had been passed on from one generation to another in the form of oral tradition largely due to the unavailability of written document at the time until the arrival of Europeans.

While the story has stood the test of time and grown to become one of the famous stories behind a festival in Ghana, its authenticity cannot be guaranteed due to the lack of scientific or archaeological evidence to back the story.