An overview of Ghana (Mount Afadjato)
For this post I’ll walk you through another featured location in my novel: Mount Afadjato in Ghana’s Volta Region. Before we get to Mount Afadjato, here’s a little overview on Ghana: Ghana is a country located in West Africa. As some of you may know, I am part Ghanaian and I lived in Ghana for a few years. Ghana is a relatively peaceful country, and has been that way for quite a few years. This is a big reason why Ghana is attractive to investors, this and the fact that Ghana, like many African countries is blessed with natural resources, including an oil deposit which was discovered off its coast in 2007. In fact, Ghana’s original name given to it by Europeans was the Gold Coast, based on the plentiful supply of the mineral in the region.
Economy and Language
Ghana’s national currency is the Cedi, and as of the time of me writing this, one Cedi = 0.46 US Dollars, or in reverse 1 USD = 2.17 Cedis. While this may sound grand and dandy, the flipside to the currency equation is that Ghana has a high inflation rate, meaning don’t think you can go there with a mere couple thousand dollars or pounds/Euros and think you’ll live like a king (believe me I tried!). In fact, the cost of living in Ghana today is rumored to be at par with places like New York and London. These economic variables have turned Ghana into a class based society: the rich, the poor, and a weird middle class of sorts in the middle that still needs some defining. The default language in Ghana is English (Ghana was under British rule for quite some time), but there are 9 official “traditional” languages. A variation of pidgin english is also spoken by many locals, including myself (wink).
Fun Fact: There are several variations of pidgin english spoken in different countries in West Africa. Many people believe pidgin originated from dialogue between the first slave traders and the locals.
Ghana’s capital is Accra, a busy commercial hub that is growing at a rapid rate. Accra is also a city by the ocean, and there are tons of lavish hotels to accommodate tourists and the wealthy there. Below are some pics of Accra:
Food and Geography
One thing I personally love about Ghana is the food. Ghana has a wide selection of delicacies to pick from, all made from carefully seasoned meats, tropical fruits, vegetables and spices. Below are some of my personal favorite Ghanaian dishes:
1. Fufu and Groundnut Soup (Fufu can be made from either pounded cassava or cassava+unripe plantains, and Groundnut soup, which in essence is a combination of peanut paste, water, and oil served with spices and an assortment of meats and fish). You can actually read this post where I walk you through how to make Groundnut Soup from scratch.
2. Banku and Okro (Okra) soup (Banku is fermented cassava/corn dough cooked with hot water and served as with Okro soup, a delicious blend of Okra, meat broth, palm oil, crayfish, Nigerian Ogbono powder and served with any kind of meat/fish you fancy).
3. Tatale and Aboboi (essentially mashed sweet plantains (plantain pancakes) deep fried in palm oil and served with sweet stewed beans, mmmmmm….)
Ghana is also ridiculously hot, except during the rainy seasons. Temperatures there are perfect for the beach. Perhaps that’s because Ghana sits very close to the equator, the line that divides the world into the northern and southern hemisphere’s:
Ghanaian’s love sports, in particular football and boxing. Some world class athletes have come out of Ghana, below is a short list:
- The “Professor,” Azumah Nelson (Boxing, former WBC featherweight champion, WBC superfeatherweight champion)
- Ike “Bazooka” Quartey (Boxing, former WBA welterweight champion)
- Tony Yeboah (Football, former striker, played in Ghanaian, German and English Premiere Leagues)
- Michael Essien (Football, midfielder/defender, English premiere League champion 2006 and 2010)
- Abedi Pele (Football, Played for Swiss, German, Italian and French clubs, Ghanaian legend)
Outside of sports, Ghana, whether directly or indirectly has also produced some notable personalities that have made their mark on the international scene. For example:
- Oswald Boateng, who has his own fashion line and has dressed some of the biggest names on the planet in his suits.
- Joey Ansah, a Brit with Ghanaian roots faced off against Matt Damon in one of the best fight scenes on camera in The Bourne Ultimatum. He is also the co-creator and driving force behind the popular web series, Street Fighter Legacy and Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist.
- Kofi Annan, who served as Secretary General of the United Nations and played a key role in diplomacy regarding events like the Darfur crisis, the whole Bush/Saddam/Iraq drama a few years ago, and continues to work hard around the world on peacekeeping efforts.
- Writers like Taiye Selasi, Nana Ekua Brew Hammond, Ayesha Harrunah Attah, Ama Ata Aidoo and my buddy Kwei Quartey who are making great contributions to the literary world.
- Ghanaian film makers such as Leila Djansi, Shirley Frimpong Manso, Akosua Adoma Owusu, and Nicole Amarteifio who are creating shows that showcase Africa’s diversity.
- Dr. Victor Lawrence, an electrical engineer that is also a pioneer in the telecommunications industry. Dr. Lawrence has received numerous awards for his work, including an Emmy in 1997. He is the founding director of the Center for Intelligent Networked Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. Numerous patents are credited to his name.
Historically, Ghana has had a history similar to its neighbors in most of Africa. The Portuguese were the first to arrive, in 1471 (they were responsible for the Elmina Castle, a notable slave trading post in those days). Then the British came in, kicked out the other European competition, and dominated Ghana till Ghana’s independence in 1957. Some popular names/profiles you may have heard of that helped shape Ghana’s identity in its formative years:
- Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (first Prime Minister of Ghana, visionary and strong advocate of Pan-Africanism)
- The Big Six (leaders of the UGCC, the leading political party that led the country to independence from Britain)
- W.E.B. Du Bois (American sociologist/historian/author/civil rights activist that was very influential in both the American and Ghanaian civil rights movements. He died in Ghana).
Ghana, or shall I say the Gold Coast was one of the most well known slave markets in Africa, and along Ghana’s coast were built a few prominent “castles” by the former colonists that served as last destination holding posts before the slaves were shipped off against their will. A lot of these castles still stand to this day (today they are relics and mostly used for tourism). Barack Obama visited one such castle, the famous Cape Coast Castle when he visited Ghana in 2009.
So how does Ghana play into my novel, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba?
Mount Afadjato, the part of Ghana featured in my novel is situated in the eastern section of the country known as the Volta Region:
Fun Fact: The Volta Lake, (after which the Volta Region is named) is the largest man made lake in the world by total surface area. The Volta Region is home to the Ewe people and the Akosombo Dam, one of Ghana’s primary sources of electricity.
Mount Afadjato is often highlighted as the highest point in Ghana which makes it a premiere tourist attraction. Mount Afadjato is mostly covered in dense forest, with trails available for hiking purposes. The name Afadjato is actually a European variant of the Ewe word Avadzeto which means “fighting with the forest.” Mount Afadjato makes its appearance within my novel in 1990. One of my favorite characters from my novel makes his appearance at this location. I love this character so much that at one point I even considered renaming the whole novel after him! He is a badass and a force to be reckoned with! I can’t wait for you to read the novel, and see how he makes his grand appearance!
I’ll leave you with this video that is the first part in a 2 part series featuring Ghana’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Prof. Kwaku Danso-Boafo giving a good, in depth history lesson on Ghana.