A Traveler in Northern Ghana
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
When traveling in Northern Ghana, this is what you will not see:
loads of air-conditioned tourism buses filled with loud, camera-snapping visitors.
A traveler will see peaceful villages and busy cosmopolitan centers, traditionally-dressed people, domestic and wild animals, historical sites that connect West African history to our own, artisans and handcrafted items, examples of religious structures representing Christianity, Islam, and Traditional.
You will meet friendly and happy people who take the time to get to know you. You will be called mama, papa, sister, brother. You will hear animal sounds, drums, voices of people singing or chanting, languages very different from English. You will witness colorful celebrations that honor life events of the locals. Every day will present an adventure. You will return home with incredible memories. Your life will be forever changed.
As for my personal adventure, the journey always begins in Sang Village Community and the Nazareth Home for God’s Children.
I can honestly say, after eight trips to Ghana and now in anticipation of another, this is my "home away from home.” With each visit, a goal has been to teach the children who range in age from toddlers to teenagers. Many are special needs who have been rescued by our Mother Superior, Sister Stan. Read about Sister Stan and about the work that she is doing. https://www.ourafricanfamily.org/meet-sr-stan-video
Here, at Nazareth Home for God’s Children, I am “Mama Lee Lee."
A moving experience is to visit Pikworo Slave Camp. My guess is that most Americans have never heard of this place; yet, it is here where our histories mingle.
Before enduring the months-long journey to reach the castles in the south and to eventually board boats to the Americas, slaves were housed at Pikworo. To ease tensions, locals played music on rocks. Food and water were served in “bowls” carved out of stones on the ground.
The feared stone was one of torture. Slaves who did not exhibit perfect behavior were chained to the punishment stone to serve as examples to others. Because the stone was placed in an area of full sunshine, many died from such exposure.
A tour takes a little over an hour and the guides are excellent.
Only a few miles from Pikworo, you will discover the Paga Crocodile Pond to get to know some friendly crocodiles.
The crocs are lured out of the pond and allow themselves to be handled by skeptical visitors. You will be told by the guides that the animals are safe because the souls of dead ancestors make them docile. Shock your friends back home with your pictures. If you are fast, you can photo a croc eating a live chicken! https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sacred-crocodile-ponds-of-paga
When visiting the Village Community of Sirigu, you will enjoy artwork painted directly onto homes and buildings. Have some cedis handy to purchase in the local shop, run by a cooperative for women. In addition to helping their husbands on the farm, the ladies paint, create pottery, weave baskets, make batik textiles.
When you buy items from the shop, you are directly helping the local economy.
Among the best examples of a religious site is the Cathedral Basilica of our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Navrongo.
Established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building was constructed of mud bricks and plastered with mud mortar. What a beautiful place to celebrate a person’s life, a Baptism, a Christening, or a Sunday Mass! http://www.ghanamuseums.org/old-navrongo-catholic-cathedral.php
One should not leave the North of Ghana without a visit to Mole National Park.
Mole is Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge and you can see up close a variety of animals that include warthogs, antelope, crocodiles, baboons, and the “stars of the show" — elephants! You walk or ride through the park, always with a guide.
For a special treat, spend at least one night in the onsite hotel. (Keep doors to your room closed to discourage the baboons from entering. They are curious and they love to plunder through your belongings!)
From the hotel’s balcony, view incredible natural scenery and one of the main watering holes of the elephants. Sometimes, elephants are just meandering their way through the hotel grounds.
Hotel rooms are nice and the food is good. https://molemotelgh.com/home/
Adventures in Ghana would not be possible without the help of my special friends.
I am very grateful to my hosts — Sister Stan, Fr. Lawrence, & Emmanuel and family.