Hope Care Foundation

Volunteering

 VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES IN GHANA

The Republic Of Ghana located on the southern coast of West Africa, was the first African nation in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from Great Britain in 1957 subsequently, the country was ruled predominantly by military leaders until returning to constitutional rule in 1992. The country has remained stable and peaceful and successfully changed government through a democratic election in 2000. The traditional administrative structures, such as chiefdom's and traditional councils, have co-existed continuously with both a colonial and now a modern governmental structure.

Characterized by vast diversity, Ghana's 19 million people speak approximately 55 different dialects in a geographic region of 238,539 square kilometers (92,098,00 square miles).

 The national language is English and approximately half of the population is literate. The principle ethnic groups are the Akan, Ewe, Ga-Adangbe, Mole-Dangbane, Grussi, and Gruma. The Akan language is spoken by 60% of the Ghanaian population

Hope Care Foundation's Volunteer Program provides opportunities for doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, medical, dental and nursing students, other college students, homemakers, retirees, administrators, fundraisers and others.

 Volunteers are placed with Hope Care Foundation or in institutions collaborating with Hope Care Foundation in Ghana. There are both short and long term volunteer opportunities.                           

DOCTORS/DENTISTS

Many hospitals, rural clinics and universities in Ghana are in need of medical doctors and dentists with various specialties to provide services based on their background and experience.

Doctors can provide general medical care services, HIV/AIDS/ STI services, and gynecological care. Dentists can provide dental services. In addition, doctors and dentist can teach university students subjects related to their areas of expertise.

Volunteer doctors, and dentists who choose to work in hospitals and clinical settings may work under poor conditions, and with limited resources. Equipment may be out dated and drugs may be in limited varieties.                                   

NURSES

Ghana is currently experiencing a severe shortage of nurses in both urban and rural clinics. Nurses with backgrounds in public health are needed to help support Ghana's pilot anti retroviral drug program. Nurses will work in selected hospitals to provide care for patients on the aforementioned drugs and help monitor their progress. Other nurses may provide basic nursing care, pre/ post natal care, infant's vaccinations and assist doctors during surgery. In addition, they may teach health education in schools and travel to different regions of Ghana during our outreach program to provide basic medical care such as blood pressure, blood sugar checks, eye screening and HIV/ AIDS/STI counseling and testing.

MEDICAL & NURSING STUDENTS

Medical and nursing students may assist doctors and nurses in the aforementioned areas. Medical students in residency programs will work under the supervision of native Ghanaian doctors.

 TEACHERS AND COLLEGE STUDENTS

Based on their background and experience teachers and college students can teach mathematics, English, science, health education, art, music, poetry, etc., in primary, elementary, secondary and vocational schools. Teachers and college students interested in special education can work with blind children and children with mental disabilities. Please note: College students may apply for internships with our organization.

HOMEMAKERS, RETIREES & OTHERS

Homemakers can teach home science in primary, elementary, secondary, and vocational schools. Home science consists of teaching school age children how to cook different dishes, prepares western deserts, needlework, home management etc. Learning these skills prepares students for employment in the tourism industry or to become caterers.  Retirees, based on their various experience and specialties can be placed in the areas of teaching, medicine, agriculture, construction and business, others not retired but with similar experiences can be placed in the aforementioned areas as well.

ADMINISTRATORS & FUNDRAISERS

Volunteer administrators and fundraisers can provide training in program management and fundraising for community projects and health institutions in Ghana. In addition, they can also, assist with the day-to-day operation of organizations.

LICENSE REQUIREMENTS

Doctors and nurses interested in volunteering in a hospital or in a clinical environment are required to secure a temporary license in Ghana in order to practice.  Interested parties should print out a copy of the list from our forms section.

All requirements and charges must be submitted to Hope Care Foundation for processing 8 weeks prior to departure. This does not apply to those interested in teaching health education.

Teachers and college students should also submit copies of teaching certificates and student ID's 8 weeks before departure.

WHAT TO EXPECT ON A VOLUNTEER TRIP TO GHANA

Hope Care Foundation staff members will pick you up at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. After a day of rest, volunteers will receive orientation concerning programs and organizations for which they will be volunteering in Ghana. Volunteers will also receive additional information about Ghana, its people and culture. 

ACCOMMODATIONS, MEALS, TRANSPORTATION

Volunteers serving in the Greater Accra and Eastern Region may stay in a large 7-bedroom house with modern amenities or tourist class hotel. Those volunteering in other regions will stay in tourist class hotels.  Volunteers may be required to share rooms with the same sex where necessary. Each room has two single beds, a closet and hangers. 

At our house in Accra,, each bedroom has its own bathroom and ceiling fan.  The large living room is equipped with living and dining room furniture, television, VCR, DVD, DSL Internet access, and an air conditioning system. In the Eastern Region and other regions, volunteers may be required to share bathrooms, as well as bedrooms.

Volunteers receive three meals per day and transportation is provided to and from project sites.

 A TYPICAL DAY IN GHANA

 On a typical day in Accra, most volunteers wake up around 7:30 am, which leaves time for a quick shower and breakfast before leaving for work around 8am by taxi. [Paid for by Hope Care Foundation].  Some volunteers rise much earlier than that, preferring the "cool" (usually no cooler than about 25 degrees Celsius) of the early morning for a jog or walk.  Breakfast is cooked by the house staff, and can include eggs, toast with butter, jam or cheese spread, crackers, fresh fruit (pineapple, watermelon, apple, etc), juice and instant coffee or orange pekoe tea.  If you prefer brewed coffee you should bring your own coffee and filters.  You should also bring any herbal teas and or your favorite breakfast cereals if desired, as these are hard to find in Ghana.

 Once at the office, school, or clinic you will meet occasionally with your supervisor to review your goals, and to pose any questions or request for supplies. 

 Lunch is brought to your location of work by the house staff around 12:30pm each day. Lunch is the big meal of the day in Ghana, and includes rice, chicken, plantain, a vegetable, salad and bread. We recommend.  You bring a bottle with you which you can always keep with you and refill from bottled water we have purchased and brought with the meals.

 The day usually ends at 5pm and a driver is available to bring volunteers home. A light dinner (similar to breakfast) is provided around 7pm. Volunteers are free to spend their evening as they wish. Depending on location volunteers may have access to TV, DVD and VCR. Saturdays and Sundays are normally non-working days. Volunteers can use this time to tour interesting and historical sites, such as Ghana slave castles and forts, spend time relaxing at our nice local tropical beaches, visit arts and crafts centers and large open African market places. Volunteers are responsible for all expenses incurred during leisure time activities.

Most European cellular phones will work in Ghana.  North Americans can also bring their old cell phones to Accra as there are stores where chips can be replaced to enable your phone to function here.  Phone cards are widely available, and a 75,000 cedis [$9.00] phone card can last 20 minutes or longer when calling North America.  If you prefer, Hope Care Foundation will arrange a local cellular telephone rental at $70.00 per week upon your arrival. Please note: We are able to accommodate most special dietary requests.  If you have food allergies or if you have dietary restrictions or a vegetarian, please let us know so we can accommodate you.

 SUGGESTED THINGS TO PACK

Although you will be with us for two weeks, you do not need to pack many clothes for your trip.  We have laundry facilities in Accra and staff available to wash your clothes at any time as well. Bed sheets, pillows, towels and soap are provided for you .It is recommended you bring long, light pants (women may also wish to bring long skirts) as opposed to shorts.  Shorts are not appropriate work attire in Ghana, and bare legs are also more likely to attract mosquitoes.

For women, we recommend packing 3 or 4 light, comfortable pair of pants and/or long skirts, and a week's worth of comfortable, light tops. Though tank tops are not usually worn at work, they can be worn in conjunction with a light blouse.  T-shirts are worn everywhere.  The weather is always warm in Ghana (around 30 degrees Celsius), and most of the offices, schools, and the clinics are not air-conditioned.  Light-colored (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours), breathable clothing is best, and light long-sleeved tops are recommended in the evening.  Sleepwear should also be light and comfortable, as bedrooms are not air-conditioned.

For footwear, it is recommended you bring breathable, durable and comfortable hiking shoes or boots.  It is not recommended you wear sandals nor have bare feet when working in the field doing outreach.  Just as sandals/exposed feet are not recommended in the West when working in hospitals and clinics, we too will be working with "sharps" for finger-pricks with Counselling Testing (CT) or in clinical environments, and therefore recommend closed-toe shoes.  However, you may wish to bring a pair of sandals or flip-flops for wearing around the house in the evening.

 Is there anything else I should bring?

If you are coming to do clinical work, it is a good idea to bring your own stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope and blood pressure cuff with you.  You may, also, want to bring a box of non-Latex gloves. Since Latex is still widely used in Ghana.  If you have any drug samples (hydrocortisone cream, broad-spectrum antibiotics etc) anything that can be used or given away at field clinics you may wish to bring those as well. You can, also, contact us for specific needs before you come.

If you are volunteering as a teacher, you can bring teaching materials such pens, pencils, markers, flip charts and writing pads for yourself and perhaps for your students.

If you are coming to do administrative work, and have your own laptop, you may want to bring it with you.  You may, also, wish to bring a supply of either CD-Rest or external disks, since these are difficult to find and not always available.

Homemakers can bring a few sewing materials, seasonings and foodstuff to demonstrate their work. Those working in other areas can bring relevant materials in their fields for demonstration purposes, etc.

Our office and home in Accra have DSL high speed internet service for your work and personal use, However, if you are outside the office and would still like to access your emails, one of the better internet cafés in Accra is Busy Internet, and most taxi drivers know it by name.  (NOTE:  When taking a taxi in Ghana, you should always negotiate a price with the driver BEFORE you get in the vehicle.  If you're not sure how much a trip should cost, ask one of the staff for a good rate, and try to negotiate with your driver down to that price.).  For your protection, the computers at Busy Internet cannot access secure sites, or sites with firewalls.  If your email server is through a university or other secure site, you will have to bring your laptop with you to access your email. Please note:  Most internet services are concentrated in big cities of Ghana, such as Accra, Tema and Kumasi. People living in rural areas have no access to the internet. If you are placed in a rural area, you may have to travel to a big city to send and receive emails.

Please note: The power supply is 220V and battery chargers require transformers.  Most laptops are already equipped to handle 110-220V.You may wish to bring a power converter with you if you are coming from North America

You may also want to bring your favorite videos, novels and magazines with you, as well as any textbooks, notebooks or journals you may need.  Old textbooks are valued in Ghana, and we would be happy to receive any donations.

Local Currency

The local currency in Ghana is the "cedis".  You cannot buy cedis outside of Ghana.  The exchange rate is: 1 US Dollar = approximately 1.40.00 cedis (current as of 1st Quarter 2010).

Visa cards are widely accepted in bank machines in Ghana for cash advances.  MasterCard is only rarely accepted, and American Express is hardly accepted at all.  Using either your Visa card or bankcard in a local Ghanaian bank machine is easy, safe, secure and convenient.  Please note that most of the bank machines in Ghana operate on the "Plus" system, not "Cirrus" or "Interac".

How much money should I bring to Ghana?

It is always a good idea to bring at least some cash with you to Ghana, even if you are planning on using your Visa or bankcard to withdraw more money when you arrive.  We will show you where the best places are to exchange your foreign dollars ("Forex").  However, you might want to exchange a small amount ($10 US for example) at the airport, in case you need to purchase anything before we take you to the Foreign Exchange (usually the afternoon after you arrive).  We will meet you at the airport, so there is no need to worry about taxi fare to the Hotel.

Although American Dollars are the easiest currency to exchange, there are places to exchange Euros and Canadian Dollars, though the exchange rate is not as good as that offered for the US Dollar.  Also, bringing larger bills ($100 bills) will earn a better exchange rate than smaller bills.

Budgeting approximately $20-$30 US Dollars per week should be enough money to moderately shop, take taxis, and use the internet cafes, etc.  Internet cafes are approximately 10,000 cedis per hour, which is just over one US dollar.  Taxis around the cities are rarely cost more that 20,000 cedis, and when shopping at the markets, almost anything can be bargained for.  Large bottles of water are approximately 2.00 cedis, and most telephone cards come in 8.00-10.00 cedis denominations.

There are Western Union offices throughout Accra, and, if necessary, money can easily be wired to you from home.  

If you are traveling from the United States of America to Ghana: 

Obtain a visa application from the Ghana Embassy, which is located at 3212 International Drive, NW Washington DC 20008 (or visit their website at www.ghanaembassy.org).  Fill out the application form and mail it to the Ghana Embassy with four 2x2 passport size photos, copies of your travel itinerary and airline tickets, a valid passport, and fifty US dollars for the application fee.  Please note: it may take up to two weeks to process your visa application, and the visa will be valid for three months.  You will need to include an overnight self-addressed envelope with the proper courier fee or postage so your passport and visa can be return back to you.

If you are traveling from Canada to For Canadians:

Photocopies or printouts of visa applications are not acceptable to the Ghana Embassy in Ottawa, so you will need to either write or call the embassy to have an application mailed to you.  There are some local representatives of the embassy in major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, but you will need to confirm their contact numbers via the website at www.ghanahighcommission-canada.com, since the contacts sometimes change or are unavailable. 

Allow up to one week for the application to be sent to you by mail.  You will need to fill out the application and send it back to the Consulate in Ottawa with three 2x2 passport size photos traveling to Ghana: a copy of your acceptance letter, a copy of your yellow fever vaccination, your valid passport, and a money order or bank draft for $65.00 for processing.  Once the embassy receives your application, the turn-around time is very quick. They should have your visa ready in approximately three business days.  Make certain to enclose a self-addressed courier or Express-Post envelope with the proper pre-paid postage so your passport can be back to you.  Your visa will be valid for three months from the date of arrival in Ghana.

Other International Citizens: 

Please contact your local Ghana High Commission or Embassy by consulting your local listings.  If you cannot locate the Embassy nearest you, please contact the Director of Immigration in Ghana for assistance at tel: (233-21) 221667/224445 or Hope Care Foundation on Tel: (+233 24) 0273982 / 208313596.

All persons entering Ghana must be in possession of a valid passport establishing your identity.  You will require a single-entry visa, which is valid for up to three months.  You will also require proof of yellow-fever vaccination to obtain a visa. For more information on Ghana visit www.ghanaweb.com.

VACCINATIONS AND MEDICATIONS

To enter the country, you must be in possession of a valid yellow-fever certificate (obtained at least 10 days before travel) to prove you have been vaccinated.

You should obtain and begin taking anti-malarials prior to your arrival in Ghana.  Check with your local Center for Disease Control or International Travel Clinic to see which anti-malarial is right for you.  Please note: Most malarias in Ghana are chloroquine-resistant.

We recommend you bring your own supply of anti-diarrhea medication such as Pepto-Bismol, an anti-inflammatory (such as Tylenol or Advil) for minor aches and pains, a small first aid kit with an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin) and bandages for blisters or minor cuts and scrapes, Calamine lotion for mosquito bites, pre-moistened towelettes, hand sanitizing gel and a box or package of Kleenex.  You may, also, want to bring a supply of nutritional bars or multi-vitamins to supplement your diet while you are here even though, three meals per day will be prepared for you. Sunscreen and bug repellant with DEET, as well as a cap or hat, is also recommended.

GENERAL TIPS--DO'S AND DON'TS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELER

Don'ts:

Ÿ  Don't drink the water:  Do not drink water out of faucets in Ghana.  Drink only bottled water, or any other drink out of a sealed container.  Make sure the container still has its original seal--sometimes bottles are simply re-filled and re-sold.

Ÿ  Don't flash around a lot of money:  Keep only a small amount of money in a pocket or wallet at a time.  Showing lots of money makes it more difficult to bargain.

Ÿ  Don't expect things to move as quickly as they do back home: Things here are said to run on "Ghanaian Time".  This means that what may take twenty minutes to reach back home may take an hour or more to reach here.  Just remember to budget more time for everything, as traffic is almost always heavy in the bigger cities in Ghana.

Do's:

Ÿ  Carry a backpack with you when you go out: Keep a bottle of water, some tissues or moist towelettes, a hat and sunglasses and some money with you.

Ÿ  Learn a few words of Twi: You'd be surprised how a little of the local language goes a long way.  Even a few words tend to make people smile and laugh!  The official language is English.  Most everyone speaks some English, but Twi is the vernacular for most non-work conversations. . 

Ÿ  Bargain: When you're out in the market place, bargain for everything. However, prices in established stores like grocery stores are set, so you should not try to bargain there.

Ÿ  Drink lots of bottled water: It's very warm here, and dehydration can creep up quickly.

Ÿ  Take pictures:  The Ghanaian people are warm and friendly.  There are lots of opportunities to take some great pictures.

Ÿ  Buy a map:   Buy a map and keep it handy.  This is useful for communicating destinations to taxi drivers.

Ÿ  Have fun!  We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for you.  If there is anything you need, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. 

FORMS

Visa Form

License requirement list

Release Form

 TESTIMONIALS

 Six weeks have flown by; it is already time to leave. I have truly enjoyed working with you. I am impressed with everyone's incredible hard work. This work is tough but the commitment to doing it right is inspiring. It comes from the heart of Hope Care Foundation. - thank you, Mr.Tsikata, for all of us touch by Hope Care Foundation.

Me daa se pii, (Thank you)                   

Anne Hutchinson

Great Barrington, MA

 

TOUR PACKAGE FOR TOURISTS/ VOLUNTEERS

1.         MAXIKOBET TRAVEL & TOURS -       Contact person- Benjamin Tsikata

Accra to Cape Coast Trip

Places of interest:

·         Cape Coast Castle

·         Elmina Castle

·         Kakum National Park

COST INVOLVED

No. of persons                        Amount ($)

 

1.                     1                                  121

2.                     2                                  70 per person

3.                     3                                  54  “

4.                     4                                  65  “

5.                     5                                  56  “

6.                     6                                  50  “

7.                     7                                  46  “

8.                     8                                  43  “   

Accra to Eastern Region Trip

Places of interest:

·         Aburi gardens

·         Boti falls (occasionally)

·         Mampong – oldest cocoa farm

·         The shrine

COST INVOLVED

Same as cost of Cape Coast Trip

2.         EXPERT TRAVEL AND TOURS -          Contact Person - Tsikata

            Accra to Cape Coast Trip

Places of interest:

·         Cape Coast Castle

·         Elmina Castle

·         Kakum National Park 

COST INVOLVED

No. of persons                        Amount ($)

1.                     1                                  100

2.                     2                                  84 per person

3.                     3-5                               70  “

4.                     6-10                             65  “

Accra to Eastern Region Trip

Places of interest:

·         Aburi gardens

·         Boti falls (occasionally)

·         Shai hills/ vegetation

·         The shrine 

No. of persons                        Amount ($)

1.                     2                                  70 per person

2.                     3-5                               50  “

3.                     6-10                             45  “

 

THE NORTHERN GHANA TOUR 

ORIGIN (HISTORY) OF THE NORTHERN PEOPLE OF GHANA

Beliefs and customs in the Northern Regions indicate aboriginal agricultural populations like the Kokomba, Chamba, Talensi, Dagarti, Sisala, Vagala, Koma, Templensi and the ubiquitous Guans being subjugated by conquering warrior bands, now constituting the second largest tribal entity in Ghana, the Mole-Dagbani. This group is characterised by people living in small communities governed by the head of family, having no legal ties with their neighbours but speaking more or less a common language. The Tindana, a kind of high priest of the land, whose duty is to distribute land to the farmers and to organise festivals, holds them together.

In the 18th century, the ancestors of the Mamprusi and Dagomba quit the banks of Lake Chad and cross into Northern Nigeria. They raided Timbuktu and Walata belonging to the mighty Mali Empire along the way. Soon they are sighted around Pusiga in Northern Ghana under their King, Gbewaa, believed to have had long teeth, armed with spears, lances and riding on horse back. Gbewaa easily pushed aside the native inhabitants and established his kingdom at Gambaga scarp and the frontier to the forest zone in the south.                                                                       

As is often the case, weak ones follow a powerful king. Gbewaa’s sons, Tohogu, Sitobu and Mantambu had a big dispute on the succession and Tohogu, the rightful successor, escaped to the southeast around Mamprugu on the other side of the scarp. His two brothers not finding him at Gambaga as they had supposed, pushed further south and founded the Dagomba and Nanumba kingdoms. Years later a branch of the Dagomba royal family moved to Wa on the western frontier after succession disputes and set up a Dagarti dynasty. Meanwhile, Tohogu after dodging his rivals returned to Gambaga to build the town, which had only been an agricultural settlement and to found the kingdom of Mamprugu, becoming its first ruler called Nay Eri. Its citizens call themselves Mamprusis.

The story is not over yet. The Dagomba had hardly settled down when they themselves became victims to a new wave of invaders, who had probably been a part of the Mali Empires. This Mande speaking people call themselves Gonja. They infiltrated into Dagombaland west of White Volta, led by their leader Ndewura Jakpa. They were able warriors with enough war practice during their search for a homeland and so they had no problem pushing the settled Dagomba further east. Jakpa established his capital at Salaga.

In Yendi the Dagomba founded their new capital ceding large tract of their land to the Gonja. Yendi has remained the traditional capital of the Dagomba-Mamprusi royalty; they kept for themselves a vast area of land reaching south to the present Volta Lake. Despite their different origin, the Gonja and the Dagomba-Mamprusi have kept similar institutions. Still common to both is the patrilineal form of succession and rule. The Tindana’s role has been preserved, especially when electing kings.

SUMMARY: To sum it up, the Gonjas lived around Salaga, Dagomba live around Tamale and Yendi, Builsas are in Sandema, the Kassena-Nankani in Navrongo, the Wala in Wa, the Dagarti in Nandom, the Sisala in Tumu and the Kusasi in Bawku in the extreme north-east. Grouped into large units, the Mole-Dagbani language family is closely related to the Mossi of Burkina Faso.   

THE NORTHERN REGION

BACKGROUND

The Northern region falls entirely within the Northern Plains and has Tamale as its capital. It is bounded on the north by the Upper East and Upper West regions, on the west by Cote d’Ivoire and on the east by Togo. The Brong Ahafo and the Volta regions are on the south. It covers an area of 70,390 square kilometres constituting about 31% of the country’s landmass. The population of the region is about 2.2 million. The region has about 16 ethnic groups and the major ones are the Dagombas with their capital at Yendi, Nanumbas, Gonjas with their capital at Damango, Mamprusis based around Naliregu and the Kokombas. It is predominantly an agricultural region with over 70% of the labour force employed in this sector.                                                                 

THE UNIQUE CULTURE

As we journey to the North from Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi, you cannot miss the striking architecture of the traditional houses which is just one of the many cultural features that make the Northern Region not only different but unique as well. Landmarks of the proud history of the people of the North date back to prehistoric times and they have left behind legacies and relics which are of interest to both Ghanaians and foreigners.  

MOLE NATIONAL PARK

Mole National Park, 169km (2 ½ hours) drive from Tamale, is the best developed Nature Reserve in Ghana. The park is about 500km2 of Guinea Savannah and riverrine landscape sanctuary offering more than 90 mammal species including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, antelopes and primates and about 300 species of birds.

BUI NATIONAL PARK       

It has a Savannah and riverrine forest landscape and encompasses a portion of the Black Volta River. This park is noted for its hippopotamus population as well as several primates, antelopes and large number of bird species.

LARABANGA MOSQUE

This is a 13th century mosque and the largest of the ancient Sudanese style mosques in Ghana. It is one of the holiest sites in Ghana. In the mosque is a Quran, which is as old as the mosque, and its origin is still a mystery. Its distinctive façade has been widely photographed.

LARABANGA MYSTERY STONE 

Nearby at the outskirts of Larabanga is a mystery boulder that is the subject of a splendid local legend. This stone cannot be moved and the road has been diverted around it.

DABOYA 

Daboya is a 15th century town from the Gonja Kingdom, and a famous source of hand made textiles called Fugu (Smock).

SLAVE HERITAGE (CORE OF THE SLAVE TRADE)

The African-Americans who are coming to Africa in search of their roots have found Ghana as the most probable ancestral home because of the numerous castles along the coast. However, the actual homes will be found well beyond these castles, which were just warehouses so to speak before the final journey to the Americas. The North has slave trade sites to suggest that the bulk of the slaves were captured here. The known notorious slave raiders lived and did their infamous business here. Samori and Babatu died and were buried here. Babatu’s grave is in Yendi; his articles of war (the swords, bows and arrows) are still with his descendants in Yendi.   

NALIREGU DEFENCE WALL    

This is a remains of an ancient Defence Wall built around Naliregu. It is located in the north-eastern part of the region and is said to have been built in the 16th century to protected the seat of the Mamprugu (Naliregu) Kingdom against enemy attack especially slave raiders. Only honey, cow milk and shea butter oil were used to construct the wall to ensure its durability. No water was used. The base of the wall is about 3 to 5 metres in width and average height of 2 metres. This Defence Wall has now been recognised as part of the Slave Route Project.

SALAGA SLAVE MARKET

Salaga Slave Market is located about 80 to 100km Southeast of Tamale; Salaga was the centre of a major slave market where slaves were exchange for cola nut and gold. The market was held under a baobab tree in the village square. That tree has since died but another tree has been planted to replace it. The building, which was used to hold the slaves, is still there. Leg pegs can still be seen in the market place.

BABATU’S GRAVE AT YENDI

The infamous slave raider, Babatu who was killed during one of his forays is buried in Yendi near his house. Yendi was part of a 19th century German settlement. Many of the Germans who died in battle with the Dagomba people are buried here.

YIKPANBONGO ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE    

This site is located in the north-central part of the region popularly known as “overseas” because of its inaccessibility during the raining season. It is an important archaeological site characterised by distinctive cotta figures, artefacts and traces of the 9th century Koma people. Already the terra cotta figures are being illegally sold in the international art/antique market.     

 WITCHES HOMES/CAMPS

The witches’ settlements are located at Ngani in the Yendi district, Gambaga in the East Mamprusi district, Kukuo in the Bimbila district and Kpatinga in the Fushegu district. These places are sanctuaries for people mostly women who are accused of witchcraft in their communities. The alleged witches are banished from their communities and sent to the chief priest of these villages where they are exorcised. They decide after the exorcision to stay there. Other sites include the turtle pond at Sambu in the Yendi district and the crocodile pond at Tale 20km west of Tamale.

FESTIVALS

Like all other regions in Ghana, the Northern region is not left out in terms of festivals. The most popular among them are the Bugum (Fire) and the Damba festivals.

   BUGUM (FIRE) FESTIVAL

It is celebrated on the 10th day of the first month of the lunar calendar to commemorate the finding of the beloved son of the Dagomba king in the 16th century. Following the invocation of the chief, the ceremonial torch is lit and thousands of torches illuminate the streets amidst drumming and dancing from night till daybreak.

 DAMBA FESTIVAL (TAMALE)

Originally celebrated by Muslims to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed on the 12th day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar, has taken a traditional rather than Islamic tone. The two-day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship and most ethnic groups in Northern Ghana celebrate it.

 THE UPPER EAST REGION

 

BACKGROUND

The Upper East Region is the traditional domain of the More-speaking people. Their history goes back to a 13th century chief named Gbewa who founded a kingdom at Pusiga, east of Bawku on the Togolese border (where his tomb can still be seen). His sons fought over their inheritance and founded a number of mini-states in the region which grew from the 14th century and remained essentially intact until the 19th century – Mamprusi, founded at Gambaga, Dagomba, Nanumba and the other Mossi kingdoms. These nations are now the names of distinct ethnic groups speaking dialects of More. Dagomba’s first Ya Na, or king, founded a capital at Yendi Dabari, north of Tamale, where ruins were unearthed in 1962. That capital was abandoned for Yendi (100km east of Tamale) after the 16th century Gonja invasions. The Ya Na’s palace is still there. At Bagale, in the remote country south of Gambaga, is the Dagomba king’s palace mausoleum. The house built over it is the abode of the spirits of all departed Ya Nas.

 CULTURAL FEATURES

The Upper East Region is very rich in culture. This is manifested in the natural open friendliness and sense of hospitality of the people. This is a well-known characteristic and expressed in the traditional greetings of “Zaare”, “Azanem”, “Tuma, tuma” etc. (Good morning, afternoon and welcome). 

 BOLGATANGA (BOLGA)

Bolga, the administrative capital of the Upper East Region and the Grusi-speahing Frafra people, has always been a meeting point for traders from Mali and Burkina Faso on their way to Tamale and southern Ghana. The markets continue to be important trading points, and Bolga is a famous centre for handicraft, including traditional smocks, straw hats and   baskets, leather goods and metal jewellery.

                                                                                                                                                 THE REGIONAL MUSEUM            

This museum exhibits the region’s cultural, historic and ethnographic heritage in two small rooms with displays of tools, ritual and musical instruments. But the most important exhibits are the terra cotta figures from the region’s archaeological sites.

 CATHOLIC GROTTO AT KONGO 

This is a Catholic Retreat Centre on top of a hill for meditation and relaxation. The rocky scenery on this area is very beautiful.

PAGA CROCODILE PONDS

Paga is the home of the most friendliest and popular crocodiles in Ghana. Paga is about 40 kilometres from Bolgatanga and it is located at the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso. It is the last major Ghanaian settlement towards Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The crocodile pond is a sacred sanctuary for crocodiles and is popular with Ghanaian and foreign tourists alike. It is located on the fringes of the town and legend has it that it is as old as the town itself. The inhabitants of the area regard the crocodiles as a deity. Some even refer to them as their “ancestors”. It is a taboo for anyone to cause any harm to a crocodile. The reptiles, therefore, move about freely within the vicinities of the pond, and even make their way into people’s homes occasionally. The crocodiles are enticed ashore with bait like a fowl and it is popular for tourists to be photographed holding a crocodile tale. They pose no danger to the people they come into contact with.

SLAVE CAMP AT NANIA (A SUBURB OF PAGA) 

This is a camp where slaves used to be camped after their capture. It is a beautiful rocky terrain with marks of slaves living there. These marks include a small perpetual well, utensils dug in the rocks and a stone drum.   

TONGO HILLS (ROCKS)

Proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this area is of outstanding natural beauty and cultural richness. Tongo Hills is located about 10km north of Bolga in Tongo. They are granite rocks, which rise dramatically from the terrain. These ancient rock hills have interesting shapes and are perched precariously on top of one another. During the cold, dry Harmattan season, the persistent wind forces its way through the rocks producing ghostly whistling sounds.   

 TENZUK SHRINE

This shrine, located at Tongo, is believed to possess the power to bless couples who want children, entrepreneurs in search of business prosperity, civil servants who want promotion, and even football teams engaging in important competition (both local and foreign). The significance of the shrine is tremendous, and this is manifested in the calibre of people who consult it – some come all the way from Kumasi, Accra and Sunyani.    

NAVRONGO-TONO IRRIGATION DAM

This Dan offers dry season farming for the people of the region. Rice and Tomatoes are grown in large quantities. The Dam also serves as source of fishing for the people.

NAVRONGO CATHEDRAL

It is the second town of the Upper East Region. The people here are mostly Kassena farmers. Navrongo enjoys a reputation in the north as a centre of education because of its large secondary schools. A dominant part of the religious life in this region is the Roman Catholic Church and of its most visible landmarks is a unique church in Navrongo. The Navrongo Cathedral with its mud walls and floor and traditionally decorated interior, stands as the last remaining ‘Mud’ Cathedral in Ghana. Its origin dates back to 1906 when some Catholic Priests (Fathers Morin and Chollet and Brother Eugene) arrived at the English Military Quarters of Navro (now Navrongo) in the Northern Gold Coast with the intention of establishing a Catholic Mission station. Traditionally built, the Cathedral had deep foundation trenches filled with stones and boulders.

SIRIGU CHIEF’S PALACE

Sirigu is in the Kassena-Nankana District. The chief’s palace still maintains the original traditional architecture of round huts with murals on the walls. Women usually do these decorations.

SANDEMA

This is the capital of the Sandema District. The Builsas are proud tribe of tall men and pretty women with a history of valour to match. The Builsas defeated the notorious slave raider Samori that eventually led to the end of the infamous capture and sale of slaves.

FIYASE SHRINE

This is a cave where the captured arms of Samori the slave raider are kept.

BAWKU

As a District capital of the Bawku East, it is 83km north of Bolgatanga. The people are Kusasis, Mamprusis and Busangos. It has a long history as a marketing centre and serves as a cross road for many caravan in the olden days. Bawku market is still an attraction in itself for the sale of hand woven smocks and leather works.

NAA GBEWAA’S SHRINE

This is a historic shrine located close to the Gbewaa Training College in Pusiga. It is on top of a gentle rising land amidst a plantation trees. Here, Naa Gbewaa, who founded the Mamprusi, Dagomba, Moshie and Nanumba Kingdoms around the 11th century, was said to have sunk into the bowels of the earth in anguish when news about the assassination of his favourite son Kufogo, was brought to him. His descendants continue to worship at the shrine.

WARIYANGA MOSQUE       

Of the many ancient buildings in Ghana, one of the best preserved is this 15th century mosque at Wariyanga. It is just as old as the Larabanga mosque and yet looks stronger. Early Muslim Missionaries constructed it at the time of the Western Sudanese Empires (Ghana, Mali and Songhai). It serves as a source of pride to Muslims who visit it for inspiration.

KULUNGUGU BOMB SITE       

In August 1962, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah the first president of Ghana visited Kulungugu (a village in the Bawku area). A reception was held in his honour near a local school but the event was marred by a bomb blast, which killed a young girl and injured many others including the president. A memorial in the form of a burst of the president has been built on the spot where the event occurred.

FESTIVALS IN THE UPPER EAST 

To see more of the culture of the people in this part of Ghana, one has to arrange and attend some of the many festivals and funerals celebrated in this region.

FIOK FESTIVAL

The Builsa people of Sandema celebrate it in December. It is a war festival that re-enacts the heroic exploits of the Builsa for instance the defeat of Somori, the slave raider. 

FAO FESTIVAL

The Kassena-Nankana in the Navrongo District celebrates it in December/January. It is a post harvest festival of thanksgiving.     

THE UPPER WEST REGION    

BACKGROUND

Like the Upper East, the Upper West Region also serves as a gateway to Ghana from Burkina Faso and is a traditional crossroad for the Trans-Saharan trade routes. An exciting introduction to Ghana much of the landscape is broad savannah grasslands, dotted with the strange-looking baobab tree, or striking Sahel terrain. In the villages, with their distinctive round and square huts, communal activities go no as they have for generations. The uniquely styled traditional village houses of round mud-walled structures connected by walls forming large compounds are well adapted to suit the demanding climate of this region.

WA AND THE WA NAA’S PALACE

The Upper West Region has a different feeling, as a more traditional region. The administrative capital of Wa is a home of the Wala people and also the seat of the Wa Naa, Paramount chief of the Walas. The magnificent palace still stands as stately as it did when it was first built in the 19th century. In front of the palace are graves of previous Wa Naa Apart from his ceremonial role; the Wa Naa still adjudicates disputes between his subjects. Wa is predominantly Muslim as the many mosques dotting the townscape attest. 

GEORGE FERGUSON’S TOMB AT WA

George Ekum Ferguson was a colonial agent who was instrumental in convincing local chiefs to sign treaties of friendship with the British. Slave raiders later killed him in 1897 but his tomb is preserved in Wa.

SUNTAA-NUNTAA PROJECT 

This is a tree-planting initiative, aiming to provide local women with the means to obtain regular supplies of fruit and fuel wood. Up to half a dozen overseas volunteers stay each year to help out and involve themselves in local life. If you are interested in working and staying in a development context, then you will be expected to make a modest contribution to your keep.

GBOLLU DEFENCE WALL

Gbollu, 70km north of Wa, was part of the Slave Route. In the 19th century, Gbollu Koro Liman built the wall as part of its defence against the notorious slave raiders.    

HOMETOWN OF DR. HILLA LIMANN.  

Gbollu is also the hometown of Dr. Hilla Limann, President of the 3rd Republic. After Rawlings has lifted the ban on party politics at the end of his three months in power in 1979, Dr. Hilla Limann was voted into office as the 3rd civilian elected president of the Republic of Ghana. He was, however, overthrown in a military coup on the eve of 31st December 1981 by Rawlings. He died in 1999 and was buried here in his family home.                                  

GBELLE GAME RESERVE   

 Located 17 kilometres south of Tumu, this reserve is a sanctuary for indigenous wildlife, particularly its large herds of Roan Antelope, and is part of Ghana’s conservation programme.

WECHIAU HIPPO SANCTUARY

This is a community-protected area located at the extreme north-western corner of the Upper West Region of Ghana. It consist of 40 kilometre stretch down the length of the Black Volta River which forms the region’s western boundary with Burkina Faso. It is the second largest concentration of hippo wallows in the country. Hippos are locally endangered and threatened by indiscriminate hunting and habitat destruction. Thus the Wechiau hippos are very important in Ghana. It is possible to take a canoe trip on the Volta Lake to see the hippos in their various wallows and also to visit the island forest grove located near the Tankara wallow. This island is a safe haven for the hippos and harbours a high diversity of birds and butterflies. It is the only place in Ghana to see colonies of the gregarious Buffalo Weaver bird.

FESTIVALS IN THE UPPER WEST

KOBINE FESTIVAL, LAWRA

Lawra, which is located 80kilometres north of Wa on the road to Hamile, is well known for its musical instruments, notably balafons. The Kobine is a post harvest festival to give thanks to the gods for a bountiful harvest. It is a nationally televised event celebrated in September by the Walas and the people of Lawra. The three-day festival culminates in feasting and dancing that attracts percussion teams from throughout the north.                                                                                                                                       DAMBA FESTIVAL (WA)

Originally celebrated by Muslims to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed on the 12th day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar, has taken a traditional rather than Islamic tone. The two-day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship and most ethnic groups in Northern Ghana celebrate it.