GHANA - ACCRA
REPUBLIC OF GHANA
• The word ‘Ghana’ means ‘Warrior King’ in Mande (a language spoken all over Western Africa).
• Ghana is pretty much at the center of the world, being both close to the equator and on the Greenwich Meridian, which represents 0° longitude.
• The official language of Ghana is English, but it is completely surrounded by French-speaking countries; The Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Togo.
• Ghana existed as an empire from the seventh to the thirteenth century. During this time, the Ghanaian Empire included what we now know as Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. The ruler of this empire was known as the Warrior King – or the Ghana – which is how the empire became known.
• In the late 1400s, Portuguese settler colonialists arrived and began trading in gold, ivory and timber with various Akan states. This led to Ghana becoming a key link in a Portuguese trade route and a centuries-long struggle between colonial powers for control over the area. So much gold was found in the area that it became known as the Gold Coast.
• It is estimated that six million enslaved people were shipped from West Africa to other countries. Today you can learn more about this history and pay respect to the people who suffered through this dark period through a tour of one of the castles and trading posts along the coast of Ghana – which were for many people, the last time they saw their homeland
• In 1957, Ghana became the first self-governing country on the African continent, under president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Their new flag incorporated the Pan-African colours (representing an ideology of political unity between all who live in Africa
- • Ghana’s population lives in a cosmopolitan metropolis, and the government recognises a host of indigenous languages as national languages. Two of the most widespread are the Twi language of the Ashanti people (which is spoken in the southern and central regions) and the Dagbani language of the Dagomba people
• There is only one natural lake in Ghana – Lake Bosumtwe – a meteorite impact crater formed over a million years ago. It is believed to be a very sacred lake and when you die this is where your soul will come to say goodbye to the God Asase Ya.
• Maybe to make up for their lack of natural lakes, Ghana is home to the world’s biggest man-made lake. Lake Volta – which is over 320 miles across!
- • One of the most predominant cultures in southern Ghana, that of the Akan people, practices a system of inheritance based on the matriarchal lineage. However, men still hold the main positions of power in this society. For example, while both the king and his sister will inherit their royal status and wealth from their mother, it’s the king who will sit on the throne. But, it’s not the king’s son who will be given the throne, but the king’s sister’s son.
• The Ashanti Empire was influential in shaping the culture of modern Ghana, and fashion is no exception. Kente cloth, the fabric worn by Ashanti royalty, is still a point of national pride.
- • The first names of children of Akan tribes – like the Fante and Ashanti tribes – are based on the day of the week on which they were born. It’s said that your name influences aspects such as your spiritual and professional path, as well as your personality.
• Customarily, music had a social function in Ghanaian society. Drumming was used as a form of communication, and stories told using music helped to convey the history of Ghanaian people.
• Ghana is where ‘fantasy coffins’ originated. Extraordinary artistic coffins are made to send people off to the afterlife, designs will be based around the interests and lifestyles of the departed.
• Ghanaian food is a mix of indigenous flavours and outside influences – including European and Indian. You’ll find tomato-based stews with complex flavours throughout Ghana. The stews usually contain a type of marine or freshwater fish and are eaten with a dough, which is used to scoop up the fish and soak up the fragrant sauce.
- • When meeting a group of people in Ghana, it is good manners to begin shaking hands with the person on the right and move to the left, not the other way around.
• Often before marriage in Ghana a dowry is still paid to the Bride’s family. Before the ceremony, the Bride’s family will make a list of the items the Groom’s family must bring and each item will be checked before the wedding goes ahead.
Now some fun facts
• By naming your child John in Ghana you can be giving them a head start on the political ladder. All of the elected and instated presidents except the current president Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, since 1992, have been named John.
• Ghana is home to the fastest man in the world – backward. Ferdie Adoboe holds the world record for the fastest 100 yards backward sprint – which he completed in 12.7 seconds. This claim to fame saw him become the answer to a trivial pursuit question in 1984. Now that is when you know you have made it!