Kumasi, Ghana, November 26 - 28, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Where I stayed
Presbyterian Guesthouse

Flag of Ghana  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We entered Kumasi after dark in drizzle in what seemed like the world's worst traffic chaos on its outskirts and around the main market after a very long drive from Mole National Park.  The historic center of town where our accommodation was located, though, was quite deserted after dark.  Our religious experience in Ghana continued as we camped on the grounds of the Presbyterian Guesthouse, as atmospheric colonial building with high ceilings, deep wooden balconies, and shared bathroom facilities where nothing worked.  A few in the group who got the heebie-jeebies at the thought of staying at a religious house where someone might try to save their souls parted for plusher accommodations at a nearby hotel while the rest of us made due with tent space on a lawn and visits from the curious poultry wandering about. 
Shortly after our arrival that night Robin and Chris, two of the shall we say "more mature" women on the trip treated us to a show.  The two hadn't been getting along for a while and had some words with each other back in Senegal over who had the say over what could be stored in Daphne's small refrigerator.  In Kumasi Robin allegedly bumped Chris's butt to squeeze onto the truck as Chris was blocking the steps while cleaning the fridge.  Shouts of "inconsiderate American bitch" and a response were heard, but Dave broke things up before feathers started flying - "Girls, girls, don't fight...be nice!"  I'd normally be inclined to say "before they started pulling each other's hair out" when describing such at catfight, but both Chris and Robin had such short butch hair doos that neither would have had anything to grab onto.  
Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, the Ashanti's being the largest of the Akan tribes that make up most of Ghana's population.  The city has numerous sights related to Ashanti history including Maniyah Palace, a British-built palace given to Ashanti King Prempeh II on return from his forced exile in the Seychelles, the Prempeh II Museum of the King's belongings and royal artifacts, and the National Culture Center, a crafts village of fixed priced shops and artisan stalls where it's possible to watch artisans at work on Ashanti Land's famous crafts, best known of which is Kente Cloth. 
Like elsewhere in Africa the center of life in Kumasi is its central market.  Kejetia Market is a massive expanse of rusting corrugated tin roofs and shanties selling everything locals could possibly need and is said to be the largest in West Africa, a claim the seemed entirely plausible from the looks of it until I saw even vaster expanses of humanity engaged in trade in Nigeria.  In any event, though, I'd still compare it to a termite's nest of confusing trails jam packed with people, produce, cheap clothing, and lots of automotive parts.  Built over railroad tracks and open sewers, the crowding, smells, and intense humid heat were more than I could bear for more than a few minutes. 
There is an amazingly low hassle factor in Ghana compared with other countries in West Africa, and I was almost never bothered or asked for anything in the country.  I found the Ghanaians to be the friendliest and most welcoming people of all the countries I visited on the trip.  Even police, who have such a reputation for being on the make in many African countries, in Ghana were all friendly and helpful in giving directions rather than trying to impose fines for fabricated infractions. 
Ghana's background as a former British colony is evident in many ways, not the least of which is the crisp smart-looking uniforms schoolchildren all wear - dresses for girls and usually khaki shorts with different color sport shirts depending on the school or town for boys.  These made Ghanaian children all look especially neat and clean after the ragged snotty ones a week earlier on the Dogon trek.  I suppose I also prefer to be greeted by children with, "How are you, Obroni? What is your name?" rather than, "Donnez moi un cadeau!"
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