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My experience on this trip was one I'll never forget, I learned a lot about many groups of people as well as myself. I found that a lot of the views I had about the continent in general were not true. Most people think of Africa being primitive with wild animals such as Lions running around, but it is nothing like that at all. One might be able to find these exotic animals in a few places, but the only animals we saw were lizards, goats, dogs, cats and chickens. Although different and not as developed as the U.S., Ghana is a very peaceful and beautiful country. The people there are very friendly and embracing despite the fact that a lot of them live in poverty, in our eyes. Prior to traveling to Ghana I didn't want to set my expectations too high or too low. I felt that if I did so it would lead to bias and I wouldn't experience the countries true essence. We traveled to four different regions, Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi and the Volta each of them possessing their own unique qualities.
In Accra, which is the capital of the country, we visited many places such as Ghana University, the National Museum, the first Presidents (Kwame Nkrumah) mausoleum, W.E.B. Dubois' memorial, Paa Joe's Carpentry shop for coffins and the market place where we were able to buy gifts. The Balme library at Ghana University is the largest in the country, as we walked around it I felt as if I were in the movie Ghostbuster's, luckily I didn't have to use my proton gun. It amazed me how they design some of their coffins, some of them resemble what we in the U.S. refer to as traditional, but others ranged from beer bottles to cell phones. The market place, basically a mall to them is nothing like anything we have here either. The term window shopping is non existent over there, what ever you look at you are almost expected to buy it even if you don't want it.
The Cape Coast was a very beautiful place with an ugly history. For it was the home of many slave castles or dungeons as our guide referred to them. While touring the castle it was very hot, mix that with the smell of bat Guano and it was almost sickening. I can't even imagine what the slaves who were imprisoned there had to go through. Many died from sickness as they were forced to live in their own vomit, blood and defecation while waiting for ships to come pick them up and take them off to a far away land. My experiences here had the greatest impact on me as an individual.
Kumasiwas much like Accra and could probably be argued as the second capital of Ghana. It is the Capital of the Asante or Ashanti, who are the richest ethnic group in the country. Kumasi has its own King, language and is rich with tradition, such as the history of the Asante Stool. The Asante have the largest market place in the country of Ghana, so big that our guide didn't want us to get off of the bus because he was scared we wouldn't find our way out. Kumasi is also known for and is the home of the famous Kente cloth village and its wood carving village.
Staying in the Volta region was one of the main high lights of the trip. Here we did home stays with different families and got a real sense of day to day activities within a different culture. The lady I stayed with belonged to the Ewe group and had a very interesting job. She made honey for a living, which I actually got a chance to taste, tasted like molasses to me, one of the better things I experienced while there. Since we were there all day we had to make lunch for ourselves, with no McDonalds or Subway to run too we were forced to make a traditional meal with the help of our host of course. The meals consisted of Banku and Fufu, which were pounded yams and cassava in a big doughy/starchy ball. This was accompanied by some kind of soup either tomato with fish and greens in it or tomato with grass cutter (bush meat) and small crabs in it. Traditionally they eat with their hands, breaking off small bits of the Banku or Fufu and dipping it in the soup before eating it or taking it as they say. At times it took me a good two swallows to get it down, it wasn't that it was that bad, it was just very different from what I'm used to eating. We also got a chance to visit the Wli waterfall, which was very beautiful, minus the bat Guano raining from the sky. I found it interesting that people bath in the waterfall, because it's a forty-five minute walk from the village meaning that by the time you walk back
The culture within Ghana and on Africa's continent as a whole is very complex, a lot more than most countries I can say and we only got to see a piece of it. Imagine each state in the U.S. speaking a different language; better yet imagine each county within every state speaking a different language. It'd be very hard to understand one another, yet in Ghana this is the case and although different they get along just fine. Most people end up knowing three to four different languages at a young age by interacting with other kids on the play ground and in the streets. They are aware of the differences amongst each other and the different groups, but instead of hating each other for something they have no control over, they try to live in harmony. It's not like before you are born you have the option of choosing what ethnic group you want to belong too. Every one within the different communities seems to be inter-connected and look out for each other in some kind of way. They may not have a lot, but will lend you a hand if you are in need.