First impression of Ghana

Not all times everything will go as you planned and high expectations can make you disappointed. Read more about first impressions of Ghana.

first impression of ghana

First impressions and travel guide for Ghana

I have to admit, that my first impression of Ghana was that I hate it. The capital, Accra is noisy, unorganized, chaotic, dirty, hot and well … not even close to be beautiful. As my first mission, I wanted to get my visa to Mali. Searching for this embassy made me really tired, and I even thought to give up my travel period on the first day. No Africa-virgin person can arrive to Africa prepared.

I traveled quite a lot before, but this level of chaos had an effect on me, which I could describe with the phrase “cultural shock”. Luckily it only lasted until I met my couchsurfing host. Once I had a reliable local along me, everything looked more simple, and I started to understand the way and style they live. Finally I was able to communicate with anybody and I even got my visa to Burkina in only 20 minutes!

If I said, that in the first day I hated Africa, I can continue by saying that on the second day I accepted it, and on the third I fall in love with it. It’s not the sites (honestly there aren’t many), but the people and their easy going and free way of living. In Ghana there are something like 50 different languages and also that many ethnics. Many – many religions and many different people. And still, they all have this same vibe, the same “african style”, therefore they manage to live together in peace. This is what I love.

During my stay in Accra (the capital) I volunteered at a library, which was created for disabled people. I painted its fences, organized its books and cleaned the shelves. In exchange I could taste one of their local dishes, called Kwachi. (This actually became my favourite since.)

Cape Coast

After Accra I visited Cape Coast, what was once also the capital of Ghana, or better said of Golden Coast – as it was called back then in the colonial times. Cape Coast has a powerful and touching history of slave trade. The castle here was the prison where the slaves spent their last few months before being shipped to America. I learned a lot about slave trade here, and I would make it a must for everybody to pay a visit here once.

Thanks to my couchsurfing host, I also got an introduction on how to stay healthy by only eating local food. He is an expert of that. I tried mornig tea, fresh mango and many-many other fruits and vegetables, which name I don’t know in english – or maybe doesn’t even exists.

“Tro-tro” bus

After Cape Coast, I took a tro-tro (local name of the poorest condition bus, often called as a bush taxi too) to the second largest town of Ghana: Kumasi. Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region. The “Ashanti” was the most powerful kingdom of West Africa before the colonialisation. The Ashanti people and the Ashanti culture is still a very important  part of Ghana, and all the Ashanti people are proud to be Ashanti.

Little known fact is, that the Ashanti kingdom still exists! The royal family is still living in their castle, and there is still a king. The king of Ashanti is more powerful, than the democraticly elected president of the whole Ghana! Other than their royal roots, the ashanti region is world famous about its gold mines. (This is also the reason, why it was – and is still – so powerful.)

From the tropical rainforests to the savannah

After the Ashanti region, I took a very long bus ride to the north of Ghana. It was 9 hours, but it wasn’t boring at all!  I could see, how the landscape changed from the tropical rainforests to the savannah, how there are always less churches and more mosques and how different the people look and speak from those in the south. I was hosted by a person, I met on this bus, and he also helped me a lot to explore his area. Thanks to him I’ve seen elephants, crocodiles and antilopes first time in my life (excluding zoo visits)!

After the short beak at his area I continued my journey to the very north of Ghana, to Wa. Wa is the capital of the poorest region of Ghana, and this is where I spend one week of volunteering with Lucas. I taught geography at the local school and also helped at the construction of new classrooms. I met many locals here and also had some excursion to the nearby places. This is how I saw the oldest mosque of Ghana, the hippos and the elders of the region.

Back to the South

After the week was gone, I started to travel back to the south, to Accra, where I left my laptop and other unnecessary weights. On the way back, I visited north Ghana’s largest town, Tamale, and a lot of interesting places around it, including a village painted by the local women and the Lake Volta – which is the largest artifical lake of the planet.

In Accra I took the “unnecessary stuffs” and after a short visit to the city center (there is a castle built by danes and a fortress by british, otherwise everything is just a large dirty market) I took a bus to Togo. I arrived to the togolese capital Lomé, late in the evening. At the border they somehow managed to steal 200 cedis (something like 340 nok) from my wallet. How they did it I still don’t understand…

Lomé was different from Accra. More lovely urban landscape with worse people. It can actually be quite dangerous, as I heard. In Lomé I visited a very interesting voodoo market. After Lomé I started my journey to the north. Atakpamé, Sokodé and then to Aledjo, where I planed to volunteer for a few days. But unfortuntely I got a very heavy fever and diarrea, so instead of the volunteering I ended up at the regional hospital for malaria test.

Luckily the test was negative and I got healthy soon after that, so I could continue my journey to the northern end of Togo, to a town called Dapaong. This is the place, where I spent the last days. I visited nearby towns, ancient cave dweelings and traditional fortresses around. Today is my last day here and also the last day in Togo. Tomorrow I plan to enter to Burkina Faso. During the next month I plan to explore that country and Mali. Everything is flexible.

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BTP period – 3 months

Returning to school with heads and hands full of new knowledge and energy for Bringing it to the Public. Meeting with the team, showing, telling, exchanging experiences and making it common knowledge.

Producing articles, pamphlets, videos, presentations, exhibitions, speeches for debate forums, books and more. Studying further the curriculum in Fighting with The Poor, bringing the truth to the public. 

Going to different schools around Europe to spread the new knowledge in various creative ways – speeches, newspaper articles, lectures at universities and colleges, debates and other public events, exhibitions – leading to a better understanding and inspiring to take an action.

Passing the final exams in Fighting with The Poor. Using the last months together to conclude our future perspectives and possible ways of improving The Poor’s quality in life with humble ways of sharing knowledge.

Volunteer period – 6 months

The Project Work in Africa or India in cooperation with Humana People to People. In this period, you can work at:

  • Teacher training colleges
  • Educating teachers for rural areas
  • Vocational schools for young people
  • Schools for street children.Preschools
  • Sanitation and hygiene in rural areas
  • Tree planting campaigns
  • Raising funds for social projects by forming partnerships and selling second hand clothes and shoes
  • Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS (following the program TCE/Total Control of the Epidemic)

Arriving at the project in Africa or India, having left behind a courageous journey where fundamental human capabilities have been turned around, refreshed and energised by knowing that things such as travelling can be done in a totally different way than the mainstream tourist travelling.

Ready for doing the work needed at the project, bringing plans and materials from the previous periods. Getting to know the people at the project, the vision and idea of the project and the many concrete tasks to be carried out.

Carrying out the tasks as defined within the necessities of the project and by the Project Leadership. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor: building preschools, starting Garden Farming, doing literacy campaigns, eradicating malaria, teaching about big issues of our time while working as a teacher at DNS, starting income-generating activities, working as a TCE Special Force in the fight against HIV/AIDS – as a few examples.

Studying and working with your Specialisation in Fighting with The Poor, finalising with a People’s Exam and a written thesis at the end of the period. Acquiring skills in information work: making interviews, taking notes and pictures, writing summaries and reports, recording videos.

Living together with the people at the project, being a good example of living a humble life while improving things with small means to make daily life better.

Travel period – 3 months

Living on the road, being on the move, finding means of transport and places to sleep, talking to people on the road, being curious to understand and know about the countries you are traveling through.

Making investigations, meeting people, visiting their workplaces, staying in their homes, understanding their problems, meeting their culture and values and sharing thoughts with them about the world and the future.

Telling people about your venture to a third world country, trying out bringing it to the public what you have so far experienced and learned. Putting up investigations on a higher level, asking tough questions to self and to the group, getting hold of more answers and putting up new questions.

Taking notes and pictures, writing reports and discussing the seen and the experienced.
Finding good ways of sticking together in the Trios and in the group as such during the travel period.

Study Period – 6 months

At this school, you will find that learning is not first and foremost about listening to the teacher.

The school’s Program consists of a range of intense and spirited activities, theoretical studies and experiences that constitute the sum of learning and life processes carried through by a group of people who for a considerable period of time share a Program with each other that demands cooperation and efforts, and which at the same time is sprinkled with elements that are inspiring and also quite out of the ordinary.

Thus, learning will also take place through communication, deliberations, through working out your plan for learning and sticking to it, and putting to use what you learned, the methods you used, the ideas you got from it and the results you harvested from the training.

You will train yourself in being adventurers and survivors, living and traveling under very humble conditions, not using much money and always finding a way out by ingenuity, being smart and sticking together with your teammates.