translated from French by Anna Infantino
photos: © Anne-Marie Giroux 2016
We’ve always wanted to go to Africa and Ghana was a country we knew little about. Without knowing why, we decided to go for a visit and find out firsthand how the people live. We arrived at the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital city Accra at night and, me, I had a fever. They stopped me from going through the security check to screen me for the Ebola virus. I got a little bit scared but only for a minute.
After about five minutes, that felt like 10, they returned my belongings with a big smile and I joined my partner Yves down the corridor to pick up our luggage.
Where to stay.
Less than 30 minutes later, we arrived at Pink Hostel, the perfect place to stay. They had arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the airport and drove us directly there and throughout our stay, the staff were very friendly and helpful. I woke up the first morning feeling great and over the next four-and-a-half days, we met fellow travelers from Canada, the US, Europe and a troupe of about 10 traditional African dancers who were staying at the hostel while on tour.
1. Pink Hostel façade. | 2-4. View from my room. | 5. Self-portrait in my room. | 6. Good morning. | 7. Sunset going back to the hostel. | 8. Sunday around the hostel. | 9-13. The hostel likes the artists.
Where to eat.
The youth hostel serves varied and excellent breakfasts, included as part of your stay. On the first morning, we ate delicious green peas cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, served with a one-egg omelette, petit pain and fresh-cut pineapples. On the second morning, we tried spicy coconut vegetables mixed with thin noodles, served with a one-egg omelette, petit pain and fresh-cut watermelon! Miam! Miam! Miam!
On our first night, we wanted to experience the local cuisine. We didn’t have to go too far for an excellent dinner, the street just next to the hostel had a food stand. The meal included goat cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, fried fish, noodles and rice combined. On the other side of the street, there was a small bar from which we ordered two local beers. Star quickly became our favourite local brand. The owner of the bar allowed us to eat our meal on the spot. It was wonderful, spontaneous and the food was delicious!
As an artist, I wanted to spend much of my time on this trip looking at African art, which I consider to be some of the most beautiful in the world. I wanted to visit the National Museum of Ghana but upon our arrival, an employee told us that the Museum was closed for major renovations. Needless to say, this was a disappointment, but, we discovered a sculpture garden at the entrance of the museum. I was able to capture some images (see below); although, I don’t know the names of the artists or the year they were sculpted.
Above: pieces from the National Museum of Ghana sculpture garden
We then decided to explore the city and met Prince Owusu, a very nice resident of Accra. Thanks to Prince, we got to visit the Kwame Nkrumah park, named after the father of independence of Ghana, on our first day. Prince also helped us to cross the Osu district at nightfall on our second day and to visit Jamestown, Accra’s oldest district on our third day.
1. Taking a break with Prince Osuwu. | 2-15. Visiting the beautiful Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park. Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) is known as the father of independence in Ghana.
We went to buy fabrics at Makola Market with Steven, the friendly taxi driver we met at the Pink Hostel! A great way to discover the city! On our way back, the chief of security of the hostel brought us to his friend, a tailor, to get measured for some shirts for Yves. Within 24 hours after taking Yves’ measurements, we were presented with two beautiful tailor-made African shirts with fabric that we bought at the huge open market in the city.
1-6. On our way to buy fabric with Steven. | 7. Independence Square. | 8. Independence Arch. | 9-10. On our way to the Makola Market. | 11-12. The tailor takes Yves’ measurements. | 13. Façade of the tailor shop. | 14-15. Back to the hostel, we are taking a break on the terrace with a beautiful bird on our side.
With the help of Prince and his best friend Anim, we visited Jamestown, the oldest part of the city of Accra. Animals roamed freely near the beach. On our way to Jamestown we spotted two pigs running around together and a beautiful goat. Prince and Anim guided us into the Ussher Fort, which was used for the slave trade in Ghana. During the visit, it was tough not to feel the suffering of human beings who were sent on ships as slaves to their death or until they reached their destination in a strange land across the ocean. We arrived in front of a very dark and small cell and they showed us a long metal instrument that they explained, was used to torture and kill people. It was hard not to feel the horror. At that point I started to cry. It is also in this same fort that Kwame Nkrumah was imprisoned before becoming the First President of Ghana.
1–7. From the beach to Jamestown. | 8–9. Ussher Fort entrance. | 10–11. We can see Osu Castle, another place that was used for the slave trade in Ghana. | 12–23. Inside the Ussher Fort. | 24. The cell where Kwame Nkrumah was imprisoned.
After visiting the fort, Prince and Anim brought us to the beach. On Sunday, everyone is on holiday!
1–6. On the beach. It is Sunday; everyone gets to relax!
Our last day, time to say goodbye to all these beautiful people we had the pleasure of meeting. This trip has been unforgettable! Au revoir Ghana!
1. Yves, Prince’s sister, Anim and Prince. | 2. Anim, Prince’s mother, sister and Prince. | 3. Yves with Prince and Anim and the other mothers of Anim. | 4. Me with Prince and Anim and the other mothers of Anim. | 5. The chief of security of the hostel, Steve the taxi driver, Annam the tailor and Yves. | 6. Annam Sowah, the tailor. | 7. Josue, a very pleasant employee at the hostel, with Yves. | 8. The perfect selfie, Anim, Yves, Prince and me. | 9. Anim, me and Prince. | 10. Anim, Yves and Prince. | 11. Au revoir Accra!
For a tour guide in/outside Accra, you can contact:
Prince Owusu / firstname.lastname@example.org or Anim Forson / email@example.com
by Anne-Marie Giroux, Montreal, Quebec, Canada