Bonus Post – Accra, Ghana

Greetings,

As promised, this a bonus post on my half day tour of Accra, the capital of Ghana and its main city. About 2.3 million people live in the city proper with about 4 million in the great metropolitan area. It located on the coast of the Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Guinea. Since it is the seat of government, all the ministries are located near the capitol in downtown Accra. One will notice there aren’t many high rise buildings, most of the housing is one and two stories with some more recent construction up to about 10-12 stories. In addition to government, it is the home to many of the larger businesses in Ghana, with agriculture, timber, fishing, finance and banking, construction and light manufacturing providing the most jobs.

For my tour of Accra, the hotel arranged for a driver to pick me up on Saturday morning and take me around to the local sites. First, he took me downtown to a store that sold fabric so I could purchase Ghanian made cloth for Donna and our daughters to use in quilting. They also had ready made clothes, I purchased myself an African shirt. Ghana-Bonus-0908

While in the downtown area, saw a group of marchers coming down the street. They were supporting World Autism Awareness Day. Great to see the young people shining a light on those with disabilities. Like a lot of nations, Ghana has tried to hide those kids and adults with both physical and cognitive disabilities and with the help of youth such as these will bring it to the forefront.Ghana-Accra-0911

Then on to Black Star or Independence Square where the President of Ghana gives speeches to the people and patriotic parades are held. Here are a couple of photos of the Square. The flag of Ghana is red, gold and green with a black star in the middle. The red stands for the blood shed during their fight for independence from the UK, the gold represents Ghana’s mineral wealth (an important producer of gold), and green for the forests and natural wealth of the nation. The black star symbolizes the African emancipation.Ghana-Bonus-0920Ghana-Bonus-0918

From the Square we walked down to the beach where one could see the presidential palace (the Ghanian White House). Here’s a photo taken with the palace in the background. While it’s hard to see, there is a lot of trash lying around, something that Ghana is going to have to wrestle with in the future. Ghana-Accra-0925

From this area, the driver took me to the Jamestown neighborhood, one of the city’s main tourist attractions. President Obama visited this area during his 2009 stop in Accra. The James Fort Prison was once a holding area for those Africans destined for slavery in the Europe and the US. It was just a short walk down to the pier onto the slave ships.Ghana-Bonus-0933

By the way, the people I met in Ghana think the world of Obama. They even named a hotel after him!Ghana-Accra-0901

The climb up the narrow stairs of the Jamestown lighthouse provides panoramic views of the surrounding area and the fishing village below. Well worth the hot and sweaty effort.Ghana-Bonus-0934

Here’s the view from the lighthouse. There are thousands of people living in this seaside village, many of them in shacks, some of the poorest people in Ghana. Ghana-Accra-0935Ghana-Accra-0941

There a two schools, two churches and a mosque within this village. Let’s take a bit of a close up tour. First, one of the classrooms in one of the schools. There are volunteers that go out every morning and gather all the kids they can find and bring them to the school. Donations from tourists provide a majority of the support for these schools.Ghana-Accra-0947

Fishing is the main way of making a living, boats go out early in the morning and bring the day’s catch in by no later than midday.Ghana-Accra-0962

These women were cleaning and preparing fish for purchase by restaurants or the public or for drying and smoking. The guys in the bottom photo had their catch out for sale. Most of the best restaurants send someone to buy fresh fish for their evening menu.Ghana-Accra-0954Ghana-Accra-0965

These fellows were building a new fishing boat. Apparently, wood boats are preferred over more modern materials such as aluminum because they are much sturdier in the water.Ghana-Accra-0955

Here are some boats that have seen their better days. Note all the trash lying around, not a very healthy environment. Plus there were dogs everywhere and there was even a herd of cattle in this village.Ghana-Accra-0951

A few more scenes from the village as we were walking up the hill. In the bottom photo, those were living quarters for some of the villagers. Doing their best with what they have.Ghana-Accra-0979Ghana-Accra-0973

In the photo below, this woman is sorting through a pile of onions, my guess she buys in bulk and makes her living by selling onions in the village and the surrounding area.Ghana-Accra-0971

Again the kids come out of the woodwork when a white foreigner is around with a camera. They were so cute and happy too!Ghana-Accra-0989

This was the end of the half day tour. To be honest, I’d seen enough, the poverty in the Jamestown area was hard to stomach. Made me think about how fortunate we are here in the US. Makes me proud to know that we do share with the world through government programs, charities and non profits such as ACDI/VOCA, helping to make the world a better place, helping where we can and with what we have. But I think we could do more.

Until then,

Tom