Travel alone to Ghana? No problem
Let me start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Ghana. It was a culturally enriching, relaxing experience. My tour guides Prince and Isaac, with Ashanti African Tours were awesome!
When I tell you God came through for me on this trip I mean it. I hadn’t talked to Prince or Isaac before I met them outside the airport. I had only corresponded with their boss via email. Sounds risky to some but I had faith everything would work out. Isaac and Prince handled everything that came up from finding a different hotel room at the last minute to helping me negotiate with craft vendors when buying souvenirs.
I’m so glad Ashanti African Tours was willing to partner with me for this trip and provide tour guides and transportation. There’s lots of tour companies in Ghana but what attracted me to Ashanti African Tours was their commitment to investing in education initiatives in Ghana. A portion of the proceeds from every tour goes toward constructing schools in villages in Ghana. I got to visit one under construction and another one the company helped renovate.
I’ve spent much of my life studying the African diaspora and I’ve traveled abroad to the South Pacific, Latin America and Europe. This year, I decided it was time to return to my roots in the Motherland to learn more about where my ancestors came from. I hated not knowing about their world, before they were held captive and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.
When you visit the slave castles and go into the dungeons, it gives you a whole new perspective of how horrific and terrible other human beings can be in the name of greed, business, and making money. The trip is one I believe every African American, and descendant of the African diaspora should take. Next year will be special because it marks 400 years since the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade began. If nothing else, the trip makes you appreciate everything your ancestors did to get you where you are today, and you’ll learn you have nothing to complain about and should be grateful everyday.
I chose Ghana because I also wanted to learn about their traditions and culture. Visiting the Ashanti Kingdom and learning about their kings and queens was fascinating. I learned we came from rich, powerful kingdoms, who had a plethora of natural resources such as gold. I highly recommend having a naming ceremony when you visit. I received a new Fante name, Nana Aba Ahermah, and the entire village came out to celebrate while a group of dancers performed. I’ll be writing about that experience and sharing the video in upcoming blog posts.
A woman traveling abroad to a foreign country sounds like a foreign and scary concept to some people. I admit, when it came time to leave, I was worried my guides wouldn’t be at the airport or what if I got sick. But those fears quickly vanished when my tour guides were the first people I saw when I stepped out of the airport. If you’re trying to take a trip abroad and can’t find anyone to go with you, I recommend a solo trip. Just find a company to give you tours around the country and then it won’t be lonely.
I actually found it to be wonderful. It was a chance to take in all of the history and richness of the culture on my own time. I got to take as many pictures and videos as I wanted and ask a ton of questions. I also got to go where I wanted when I wanted. In a group, it probably wouldn’t have been the case. The tour guides take care of all of your needs. They’ll provide you an itinerary, transport you everywhere, take pictures, and keep you safe. It was very helpful.
As for Ghana, it has great food, rich culture and lots of places to visit. The people were very friendly. The souvenirs were incredible. I definitely didn’t bring enough money. They had drums, wooden masks, beautiful clothes, jewelry, books, fans, paintings, etc. You’ll want to buy it all. There’s a lot under development and tourism is on the rise. I also found the country to be very secure. Seeing police patrolling the roads and communities was a daily occurrence.
Some of the cultural highlights:
Ghanaians love hand washing. And of course that’s a good thing. When you go to restaurants, there will be hand soap on the table. If you ask the waitress, they’ll bring you a bowl of water and you can wash your hands right at the table. Delta airlines even picked up on the cultural tradition. On the plane, before serving food they gave everyone hot wipes to wash their hands. This is because foods like banku and fufu are eaten with your hands. My only advice would be to find out if the water is tap water, and if so, you don’t want it to get on your food because it’s not advisable for foreigners to consume the tap water in Ghana.
I love the women with the babies tied to their backs using cloth. It seemed like they didn’t let the babies get in the way of their errands. Many of the babies appeared to be asleep while the moms rummaged through the markets or cooked roadside or sold things.
You can get pretty much anything at the stop lights of main roads. The items being sold ranged from water, soda, gum, plantain chips, phone cards, mops to even toilet paper.
I was in awe of the balance of Ghanaians, who carried items on their heads. Some of the things they carried appeared to be 20-30 pounds yet they were speed walking through the markets with these items on top of their heads like it was nothing.
I found the Ghanaian way of doing business very intriguing. In the mornings, the store owners took practically everything out of the store and put it on the sidewalk. When you drove down the street, you’d see refrigerators, tires, stoves, clothes, wigs, baby strollers, couches , bed, vegetables, meat etc. Anything you could ever want would be on the sidewalk. In every town you’ll see seamstresses sewing, near the roadside. It can be jarring at first to see what looks like an entire Walmart store on the side of the road. I asked my tour guides about it and they said the business owners are afraid you won’t take the time to go inside the store so they put it out on the side of the road to catch your attention. While this method is not as aesthetically pleasing, it seemed to be highly effective and a time saver, and will gradually make you want to buy everything. Entrepreneurship is big in Ghana . It seemed like practically everyone was selling something or had their own store.
The different ethnic groups in Ghana have a very long history. I spent time in the Ashanti region and the Fante region. Learning about their Kings and chiefs and festivals and rules was very interesting. I got to witness in action how to behave yourself around a chief or king. They have a linguist that sits in front of them and speaks for them. When wearing traditional cloth you have to lower it off of your shoulder and above your chest when speaking to the chief or king. They are regarded as very important people in their community and treated with tremendous respect. And I was told they are never wrong so you do what they say.
Ghanaians wear traditional and western clothing interchangeably. For many, it’s cheaper to buy the traditional cloth made in Ghana and sew their own clothes. Also, my tour guides said Ghana’s president encouraged Ghanaians to wear traditional clothing to promote the culture. I saw more men wearing western clothes but the women often preferred dresses and shirts in Ghanaian cloth, especially outside of Accra.
Ghanaians speak English but amongst themselves they seemed to prefer their native language. But they’d have to ask each other if they were apart of the same ethnic group. Twi seemed to be very common. In Accra, people also spoke Ga. On the coast, people often spoke Fante and in the Ashanti kingdom in Kumasi, the people spoke Twi. Many of the Ghanaians spoke several natives languages.
Ghana’s history affects all of the Americas and Europe. We benefit from its natural resources whether it’s eating chocolate, wearing gold jewelry or rubbing cocoa butter on our bodies. Overall, I learned a lot and I am so glad I went! I can’t wait to see what its future has in store.
So tell me below in the comments, what do you want to know about Ghana? Are you planning on taking a trip there?