German born, Health-Coach: Clifford Opoku-Afari was in Ghana on a root-finding mission and filed a report for the EuroAfrica Media Magazine.
Back then, Ghana was called the Gold Coast due to its vast quantities of gold, and these strongholds served as fortified trading posts offering protection from other foreign settlers and threats from the African population. Placed strategically as links in the trade routes established by the Portuguese in the 15th century, who were the first settlers on the Gold Coast, the forts thereafter were seized, attacked, exchanged, sold and abandoned during almost four centuries of struggle between European powers for domination over the Gold Coast.
Ghana´s major cities like in many emerging nations are loud, filthy and overcrowded. Those who have not been to any developing country will not easily decipher the beauty in countries. Because in Ghana, everything is different: The people (very hospitable and self-confident), the atmosphere (very spiritual), the food (damn spicy and high in carbohydrates), the temperature (rarely goes below 25 degrees), and systemic infrastructures are rare. I made my way through my father`s native country for three and half months, mainly by foot or in overcrowded Tro Tro´s. I extensively tried Ghanaian traditional cuisine and I am now sure that pig and cow feet are definitely not my favourites. Visiting my sponsored children in World Vision´s project Krachi East, which is one of the poorest regions in Ghana, was one of the highlights.
I met people who just possess very little but willing to share these with strangers. Very inspiring. Kids who smile while running after a buses peddling through their villages driven by whites – a reminder, that we are all strangers and friends at the same time.Ghana offers social life could be astonishingly scaring to many people. Life in the city characterised with huge American 4×4 Jeeps driving next to dilapidated taxi cabs.
Most taxes are really in very bad shape. Well situated business and the highly educated dress like Europeans in suits, ties and leather shoes, buying water from a simple street vendor who barely makes 80 $ a month and supports families with such meager earning! After going through such experiences, one is faced clearly with the reality. The reality to be grateful and appreciate the level of blessing we have been bestowed with and the great luxury, we all enjoy in western countries.
And we obviously we pay a big price for this luxury. Today we have lots of opportunities, but very little leisure time and increasing loneliness in this country. Ghanaians seem to live more relaxed. People also work hard but they allow themselves for instance a nap in the middle of the market rush. For example, you might need to wake up the vendor first, before you could buy some articles from him or her.
Another typical characteristic of the Ghanaian society is that you are never alone. People live mostly in big communities of families. The result is – having always somebody to chat, laugh or share problems with. I am astonished to find out in through many conversations that many Africans still have an incomplete and parochial picture of Europe just as Europeans have about Africa and Africans.
Whereas German media mainly reports about wars, crisis, hunger and kids with
kwashiorkor. Africans have an image of “Europe flowing in milk and honey”- Europe where money are picked from the streets. I think it is very important in news coverage to emphasize the complete reality for both Europeans and Africans.
Another highlight of my journey was my visit of one of the colonial castles located in Cape Coast. We presume that Europeans (Portuguese) and West-Africans met here for the first time, back in the 15th century. This region contains large amounts of valuable goods. That was why flourishing commercial activities boomed in gold, pepper, ivory and lastly human beings were exported to the new world.
In the following 300 years approximately 12 million West-Africans “were forcefully captured and exported „ just like wares to work in plantations in America which in turn fed the factories in Europe with raw materials for production. To defend their trading bases the Portuguese and other European forces build up several big castles along the Gulf of Guinea.
Ghana offers the best preserved castles which today belong to UNESCO´s world cultural heritage. Standing in a slave dungeon with spare daylight and insufficient fresh air supply, picturing how human beings were bound and jammed together like cattle in these small rooms, waiting for slave ships to pick them up and take them for a long and exhausting journey abroad, to work on a cotton plantation as property of farmers, was one of the most touching moments of my life. Today those castles represent dumb witnesses of the colonial era and remind us of those unbelievable incidents.
Besides this appalling history, Cape Coast offers beautiful beaches, silence and relaxation. I strongly recommend every tourist who wants to travel to Ghana to visit one of the colonial castles, to see the amazing beaches. Recommendable is also to experience the famous canopy walk in Kakum national park. This 350 meter long suspension-rope bridge, 60 meters high in rain forest, was the most fascinating experience during my trip.
After three and half months in Ghana I saw myself almost totally adapted to the Ghanaian society. The first days after my arrival in Leverkusen were vague, weird, disillusioning and cold. Among other things, 3 traffic violations within a couple of days reminded me of my return in the structured and regimented world. The time I spent in my father´s country was fantastic, full of experiences, encouraging, moving, sad, inspiring and hospitable – Bye Bye, Akyire!