TRAVELING IN GHANA - 2013
If you have not already read the section on Ghana in CURRENT, please be certain to do so.
Introduction to Ghana
As a potential traveler, if you have not familiarized yourself with the remarkably long reign of the
Akan and Ashanti Empires of current day Ghana; an era filled with shrewd diplomacy, elaborate
clothing, heavy gold jewelry, distant trade and continued military successes against the Western
powers, you should do so. We recommend the book “A History of West Africa” by Basil Davidson,
with F.K. Buah and J.F. Ade Ajayi.
The first thing the Founders of Embrace would like to say about Ghana is that its’ people, by and
large, are soft-spoken, gentle and incredibly tolerant. Keeping this in mind, if you are the typical long
term traveler from Europe, you may feel that the chaotic religious fervor in Kumasi and Accra from
the influence of vying American fundamentalist interests may be more than you wish to put up with.
People from other parts of the world may find it amusing.
Considering the size of their nation and the population available for conversion, compared with
many other African countries, Ghana has been deluged with missionaries from every conceivable
self-proclaimed apostle to probably every Christian Protestant sect that has ever existed. Yes, there
are Catholics in Ghana as well. The Catholic community seems to be more concentrated in the
Northern territory, within or near the largely Muslim population. The Catholics, like the hierarchical
(and primarily “establishment”) Protestant churches: including but not limited to: the Presbyterians,
Methodists, Anglicans, Seven Day Adventists and so forth are already embedded in society and are
an active part of the Ghanaian mainstream. Most of these churches are deeply involved in offering
excellent education to children, health care education to families and those with aids, clinics and
many programs that help Ghanaians have better lives.
However, the irony of the most recent missionary zeal is that a substantial portion of it is derived
from the part of the U. S. that fought long and hard in supporting the importation of slavery from
Ghana to the United States. The same area continued until the 1960’s to be rabidly segregationist.
Why are many people who still have strong racist tendencies so eager to convert Ghanaians to their
form of protestantism?
A clue to the great interest in Ghana may be seen in the race to establish international banks there.
The moment you get off a plane at the airport, you begin to see huge ads for banks from around the
world. There are banks from China, banks from Netherlands - banks from Britain and fortunately,
there are also Pan-African Banks, such as Eco Africa Bank and now some credit unions that have
been set up (thanks to “establishment” churches) that may begin to protect Ghanaians from the
same disasters that Europeans and American’s have experienced with their less than ethical “Big”
Why is everyone so interested in Ghana? Well, let’s see:
Ghana is politically stable
Ghana has gold.
Ghana has oil
Ghana has cocoa
Ghana imports way too much of its food leaving it open to countries that wish to export to it
Ghana, due to its high humidity and rainfall, has plenty of water (although it is not always accessible
to all people easily) and if Nestle, Coca Cola or Pepsi coopt it, most people will not get any water at
Ghana has many accessible ports and good roads in primary areas
Ghana has countries near enough, with even more oil, making it a strategic jumping off point for
covert operations into nearby nations.
Clearly, churches dreaming of someday becoming international players, consider this is the place to
“be” in Africa.
WEATHER, FARMING & DIETS
Ghana is very hot and very humid all the time. Don’t make the common assumption that Ghanaians
born in Ghana don’t feel the sweltering effects of the weather, they do.
No doubt one of the reasons the people of Ghana eat so few vegetables is due to the fact that the
intense heat can make farming during the day very difficult. The common Ghanaian diet now
consists mainly of meat, fish, lentils, cassava and spices. The usual vegetables are cabbage and
carrots. Ghana does have a thriving pineapple industry. It is probably the best pineapple you will
CLEANLINESS & STREET FOOD
Ghanaians are fastidiously clean. Unlike, India where the Founders will not eat street prepared food,
Ghana is pretty safe, probably as safe as street food is anywhere in the world.
EATING OUT & LODGING
The concept of casual cafes, coffee shops or tea shops has not caught on yet. As far as, we could
determine, the only coffee house we came across was in the Accra Mall, which is the smallest of
Accra’s three malls. The café was very good but we did not see any others even at the two larger
malls and definitely not on streets.
There are not great numbers of restaurants and those that exist often do not serve breakfast,
especially in Kumasi. In Kumasi, it seems most visitors eat breakfast at only one hotel restaurant in
the center of town. We stayed at the easy going and enjoyable Presbyterian Guesthouse which is
clean has green lawns, palm trees, a security guard, always quiet neighbors, a long balcony to
watch the world go by and roosters and chickens running across the lawns to make you feel at
home. It is an excellent place to stay. Rev. Dr. Akwasi Doku Nyantekyi told us that the new building
we saw being constructed was going to be additional rooms. This should be a great help to those
traveling to Kumasi, where a shortage of reasonable rooms or any rooms at all is always a
GREAT HOPE & NEW ENTREPRENEURS
The Founders were delighted to meet a wonderful team of people lead by an ex-pat, British
Ghanaian. Peter, has returned to Ghana to start a large organic farm in conjunction with a new prep
school being set up for the children of Ghana’s new and growing wealthy class. This venture with a
number of investors is a sign of the idealism and optimism that Ghanaians living outside Ghana
have for their people. Our hearts and hope is that increasing numbers of Ghanaian ex-patriots with
specialty educations and skills will return to develop new and successful businesses in Ghana.
IMPORTATION & INFLATION
If you go into one of the grocery stores in Accra or Kumasi, you will see that almost all of the food
products and many other types of products as well, are imported. Any economist will tell you this is a
recipe for disaster as inflation in Ghana ,once again, is running very high. When the Founders first
planned their trip, the exchange rate between the Ghana Cedi was 1.45 - $1.00 U.S. Within 5
months, it had jumped to 1.95 Cedi - $1.00 U.S. This did not make Ghana cheap, because their
importation of so many foreign products elevated the expense of everything in the country - making
hotels and the few restaurants nearly comparable to eating and staying in mid-range restaurants
and budget hotels in the United States. For long term travel, it can be a little pricey. Volunteers
usually stay in only one place with families, cook their own food or live off limited street food
Ghana has a particularly sympathetic bond with the Netherlands, as well as, Germany. It seems that
the best travel books written on Ghana are written in German. The German language books have by
far the best listings of places to stay, so if you read German, get a travel book by a Netherlands or
German publisher. You will see many people from these countries visiting as tourists or
TYPES OF WESTERN VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers come from all over the Western world. However, there are three venues of volunteering;
that you as a traveler might want to acquaint yourself with:
1.) There are volunteers that are straight-up secular volunteers, such as young people coming over
from Sweden who’ve come to teach in the schools.
2.) There are volunteers such as those who come as nurses working through their church to help
with a church run hospital. They are also transparent.
3.) Lastly, are the volunteers who are volunteering as missionaries to gain new converts into a
fundamentalist Christian Church. These latter you are likely to meet as a fresh-faced group of young
strictly white girls staying in a remote hotel or restaurant, speaking covertly, holding hands around a
table or in a circle and being encouraged by a team leader into “journaling” their experiences to
enhance their conversion skills. Apparently, the use of groups of attractive young girls is one of the
more favored means now days of evangelization.
UNETHICAL WESTERN BANKS
As a visitor from the West, you should take a moment to consider why Western banks are working
so hard to woo businesses in Ghana? Banks with reputations as sullied as Barclay’s (the Libor
Scandal) have the audacity to solicit African nations for their hard earned liquid cash. What
international laws are in place to prevent Western banks from usurping Ghanaian money and using
it to get themselves out of financial difficulties?
Are Ghanaian personal accounts insured for loss by foreign banks? Will Ghanaians lose their
savings in unscrupulous manipulations and investments by such banks? Are the Western banks
investing Ghanaian money in Ghana? It is after all Ghana’s oil, Ghana’s Gold and Ghana’s Cocoa
that is enriching these grossly mismanaged banks.
A Well Informed Guide
For those who would like to find a well-informed, exceedingly polite, fluent English speaking
individual to help you understand the history of Ghana, we recommend Phillip Atta-Yawson who is at
Fort Williams. For the record, the majority of Ghanaians do not speak English. Many Ghanaians
have their tribal language, as well as a form of cross-over English, reminiscent of the English you
hear in Jamaica but impossible to understand without training.