Day 3 in Ghana
One of the greatest gifts of traveling is immersing oneself in the culture and today I did just that. It was a day for learning about the history of Ghana, coupled with local crafts and cuisine.
The first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, has been memorialized in the newly renovated museum dedicated to sharing about his work for the country and citizens of Ghana, leading them to independence and away from colonialism and imperialism. An impressive man, with even more impressive quotes, his work was dedicated to lifting up the nations of Africa. He spoke about the importance of it being a collective process, for Ghana nor any other African country could be successful on its own, while others continued to suffer. Included in the museum is the casket that he was initially buried in before being exhumed and transferred (at his family’s request) to his resting place within the mausoleum on the museum’s property. The mausoleum was quite grand and the locals were eager to take pictures within and around the massive stone structure.
Our other activity of the day was visiting a local craft market. Similar to my experiences in Uganda and other countries abroad, it was a large space with many individual merchants who are eager to bring you to their stall with wares the same or similar to twelve of their neighbours. Regardless, it’s always an enjoyable experience and one that shouldn’t be missed by travellers hoping for memorabilia and to bring home souvenirs to loved ones.
While driving around the past few days I’ve kept my eye out for local foods. Offered by both stalls and hawkers at busy street corners, I became curious about what appeared to be a fried ball of dough. Today, I finally got my hands on a fresh one and was not disappointed. Bofrot is similar in flavour to an old-fashioned donut with a hint of spice (ginger, perhaps?), but it’s crisp outside followed by fluffy middle dough (you know the kind!) is what really makes it.
We left this part of town by driving through the busiest spot in the city, Mokolo market. It was jam packed with cars, people, fresh and cooked food, and any material good you could ever hope for. An experience for all the senses! Tomorrow is a day for the Barbie movie and compiling sanitary kits.
Thanks for following along 🙂
Day 4 in Ghana
It’s BARBIE day! To tell the truth, I was concerned about being invited to this movie and my host’s mother even asked “isn’t that for children?!”. Well, silly me. The movie was brilliant but not for the non-feminist heart. Run, don’t walk, to the next showing near you.
Prior to the major movie outing I spent the morning sorting through the sanitary kits and putting together the final components. I was drowning in pads, which really is a delight when you know they’re making their way into communities to promote menstrual equity and keep girls in school!
For those of you who are new here, here’s what the kits are composed of. A drawstring bag or backpack, a smaller waterproof pouch for soiled pads, two leak-proof guards, and four pads.
Day 5 in Ghana
My fifth day in Ghana was another important history lesson. Today we travelled to the Cape Coast and visited the Cape Coast Castle, one of the most significant castles during the slave trade. The castle was occupied by many European countries, often for a few years at a time, before finally being overtaken by the British for more than two hundred years.
It was a massive space full of contradictions, the white bodies buried in the fort, the black bodies thrown into the ocean. Downstairs, a dungeon for slave men with only a 6 x 6 inch window for light and air, and above, an Anglican Church. Praying and preaching while standing on the heads of other, suffering human beings. Women who became pregnant, a result of being raped, were “cared for” with two meals a day and moved outside of the castle to a stone cottage. After delivering their babies they were given three months to nourish and feed their young ones, before having them ripped away and finding themselves back in the slave dungeons. A separate confinement dungeon was used for the women who fought back against rape. After seven days without food, they were required to walk back to the castle carrying the heaviest canon balls. If they could make it, they were sent back untouched. If they failed, they were raped. The harshness of this history struck me over and over again as I listened to the words from this local woman.
Our history as humans, especially those of us with the privilege of being born white, is dark and filled with wrongdoings. The end of the tour culminates at the door of no returns. The original door was small, maybe five feet tall and half the width of our typical doorframes now. It was through this door that a slave would slip sideways to be put into the belly of a ship for a journey of two to three months, if they managed to survive the harsh conditions. Unlike the thousands of people who had no choice in the matter, we were invited back through “the door of returns”, symbolically named to allow those with African ancestry to honour their lost ancestors, and to create a stark contrast to our experience as visitors. The final words of the guide pleaded with us to teach our children these histories so they are not repeated, and to recognize the ways this history is still repeating in more “covert” ways.
We have a long way to go, friends…