I have visited most of the small villages near Kumasi and Adanwomase was the last one that was left on my list. It was the last mainly because it was the furthest away, and partly because it’s speciality is the kente cloth, just like in Bonwire. I really was expecting just another Bonwire with the sellers rushing towards me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that no one really gave me too much attention when I stepped off the tro tro. Obviously people could not resist the odd glances at the white man in their village, but it was as invisible as I have felt in my time in Ghana. It did seem like people were making a visible effort not to look at me.
It was an easy walk to the Visitor’s Centre because of the signboards directing me. It was probably one of the most straightforward trips I have made, without the need for asking anyone for directions. The guide explained to me that this was due to the community based eco-tourism which was implemented in the village and the people were taught how to act towards tourists and not to harass them. The things available to do in the village were clearly written down, including the kente tour and village tour. I chose to do the village tour as I had already been to Bonwire and seen the kente weaving there.
The village tour was fantastic, I got to see the coco farm, visit ordinary houses in the village, and have a look at the shrines and inside the chief’s house. It was amazing to see that almost every house had a loom to weave kente. Men of different ages were weaving and all trying to contribute to their village. The place definitely had a homely feel and the sense that the people were working hard to contribute to their village.
It was certainly the most structured tour that I have been to in the Ashanit region and I advise volunteers to go there if they really want to learn about kente and the have a thorough look at a small village.
By Minato Kobori
After having the treasure hunt the previous Friday, the trend of having a special event/activity every week was continued....this time it was ‘sports and games day’. The whole school was to take part, and were split into 10 teams with about 10 children in each team of varying ages. Each team was given a coloured ribbon for their wrist, and had a volunteer, teacher or Projects Abroad staff member as a team leader. The first activities were classroom-based: firstly a round of Pictionary/charades, and then a few word and maths puzzles.
Once the group had finished they moved onto my favourite activity: the ‘creative activity’. During the week, each class had taken part in a visit to the Projects Abroad Demonstration farm, where they had been given a brief tour and learnt about the fruits and vegetables that grow there, and why they are important to eat. They also visited the resident animals. This visit was the theme for the activity. Each group had to represent as best they could what they remembered from the farm visit. The results were very impressive and they produced some great posters.
My very own orange team getting creative!
After break was the sports section. First up was the 3 legged race. I’m surprised we didn’t have any accidents after the chaos that ensued, but everyone’s competitive spirits were fired up at this stage to it was fun to be a part of it. The lime and spoon race followed with similar chaos, and finally (after deciding the wheelbarrow race was a bit risky) we finished up with a relay of them running with an orange held under their chin...which was hilarious to see!
So I know I’m not supposed to have favourites, but seeing as I have writer’s privileges I have to say my orange team were just fantastic. Okay so we didn’t win any of the races, but we had such a fun time, and their farm poster was particularly brilliant. If there were points for team spirit we would’ve done pretty well! It was great day for everyone involved in summer school, and thanks go to Anne-Sophie for organising it, and the volunteers for pulling it off!
By Anne Buglass
Volunteers Daryl Corrigan and Clodagh Haughton who were on Building and Medical Projects respectively for the month of August, were kind enough to bring with them from Ireland a suitcase full of books to donate to some worthy causes here in the Hills. The books were for a mixture of different ages of children, and also included some books for the teachers to use as teaching aides in the classroom.
Half of the books were given to the Apostolic School in Mamfe, where we have been running the summer school this month. The teachers and student were very grateful to receive the kind donation.
The second half were donated to Esther Daycare in Mampong. The reception they received could not have been more warm and welcoming. As soon as they walked into the daycare they were swamped by the children wanting to climb all over them! They treated us to a song, and were clearly over the moon to receive the gift. Daryl and Clodagh also have plans to try and send more books once they leave, so lets hope the great relationship is maintained.
One village near Kumasi that does not get nearly as much coverage as it should is Ntonso. This is the home of the Adinkra cloth.
Adinkra, the King of Gyaman, angered the Ashanti King as he had the same Golden Stool as him. King Adinkra was slain in the early 1800s for this disrespect against the Ashanti. Many believe that this cloth was made during this time and came to be called Adinkra after the king was killed.
The Akan word ‘nkra’ means ‘message’ or ‘goodbye’. This makes sense as Adinkra is a cloth printed with symbols that convey messages and is principally used for funeral purposes, although nowadays it is not uncommon to see people wearing it on a normal day. The first Adinkra cloth makers were supposedly three men from Ntonso.
Ntonso has its own visitor’s centre called the Ntonso Craft Village. Here they have a museum and you can stamp your own symbols in with the tools that they give you. The guide showed me how the dye is made and already had some prepared in a pot. The symbols were carved with calabash wood and the traditional Adinkra cloth was on display. Perhaps the most famous Adinkra symbol is ‘Gye Nyame’ – ‘Except God’, telling us the omnipotence of god. These Adinkra symbol appear in Kente cloths as well, underlining the importance of Ntonso. These symbols are seen everywhere in Ghana and this village is where it was born. I find it unbelievable how little attention this place gets! The traditional colours are black and red – black displaying sorrow for the deceased, red showing anger towards an unjust death.
The museum guide can show you around the village to show where you can collect the bark for the dye and even allow you to pound it to see how the process is performed. You can also carve your own calabash stamp so this is place is definitely worth going if you want to physically experience how the locals people make a living.
By Minato Kobori
The staff members in Kumasi are always keen for all the volunteers to visit the Kumasi Children’s Home at least once during their stay here. Medical and teaching volunteers never have the opportunity to visit this Home so we try and organise something for all the volunteers. Most people say that there is nothing like the Kumasi Children’s Home, and perhaps this is why it is so famous not only here, but in other parts of Ghana as well.
On Thursday morning all the volunteers in Kumasi went to the Children’s Home to plant trees for the children. They planted close to a hundred orange trees and even then we ran out of space to plant them so we will donate the remainders to another school.
The idea is to eventually allocate one child to look after each tree so that it would be nurtured carefully and hopefully they would grow strong and bear oranges.
Thanks everyone for helping!
By Minato Kobori
The Ashanti region is close to the equally marvellous Brong-Ahafo region, full with rainforests and amazing landscape. It is also the home of the famous Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary.
The people in Boabeng and Fiema consider the monkeys to be sacred and in the 70s actually came together to pass a law prohibiting causing harm to the monkeys. The story goes that a hunter in Boabeng came across some monkeys guarding a piece of calico. He consulted his spirit Daworoh and was told that these monkeys would bring him good fortune. The hunter took the calico to his village and the monkeys followed him there, and since then the monkeys have lived in harmony with human beings.
The sanctuary holds about 400 monkeys – Colobus and Mona monkeys. The Colobus monkeys are vegetarians and do not come down to the ground often, but the Mona monkeys come down all the time and eat bread, nuts and a lot of things humans have to offer. They come into the village all the time to steal things, but as the people are not allowed to hurt them, they simply get away with it!
It was simply amazing to have the Mona monkeys come up to me and take food off my hands. They are not scared at all and fully expect to be given something. They are still wild monkeys which is the amazing thing! The guide told me that in all her years, there had not been one day that she did not see the monkeys. There is also a monkey cemetery in the forest, where the priests of the village have been buried with other monkeys that have passed away.
Volunteers, especially in Kumasi should take this trip up to Boabeng-Fiema and they will not be disappointed. This trip can easily be done in conjunction with visiting the Kintampo Falls and still come back on the same day.
By Minato Kobori
The closest rainforest you can go to from Kumasi is within the Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a half an hour journey from Kejetia to a village called Esaase. Then it is a straightforward ten minute walk to the gates where you will have to pay 5 cedis to enter. It would have been straightforward for me, except some lady called Sandra took me past the gate and to a nearby village into a house where they were holding some kind of celebration. So all these elaborately dressed ladies surrounded me and started hugging me! I somehow managed to escape by telling me I had an appointment with the directors of the Wildlife Sanctuary, which was of course a lie.
I was expecting a quick 20 minute tour around the rainforest, but it turned out to be an hour and 45 minute hike! The tour starts with looking at the dam, where all the water to Kumasi used to be stored and treated. It is still very important and it was nice to see where the actual water to Kumasi came from. Then onto the hike...
The hike just begins without warning and before you know it, you are in the thick of the rainforest just trying to keep up with the guide! I was holding onto branches to keep myself from slipping all the time so if you are planning on going, then take appropriate footwear! This forest understandably needs a guide, otherwise I would not have been able to get out of there.
So after walking through the thickest part of the rainforest, we came upon where the pipes leading to Kumasi were. It was a nice feeling to walk along the very lifelines of Kumasi in such a beautiful rainforest.
The tour didn’t end just there, but I was taken to an opening completed surrounded by bamboo trees. It was a surreal place and I got to sit down on one of the benches to take a rest. The end of tour was a bit of a treat as the guide took me to a place especially just to see some of the monkeys.
The guide honestly didn’t say much, but I was satisfied with the long hike and feeling like I actually did some exercise walking through a rainforest!
By Minato Kobori
One of our teaching volunteers, Matthieu Lamalle took on the challenge of arranging a treasure hunt for the older classes at Summer School in the Hills. After his hours of preparation it was great to see it all come together. Each team was given a treasure map, along with one starting question. Once they located where the correct answer was on the map, they ran to the corresponding place in the school grounds to uncover the next question....and so on It was a great way to get their competitive spirit going as they knew that only the winning team would receive the treasure.
After an hour or so of somewhat organised chaos, the winning team was announced and they were not shy in jumping around in celebration. They got even more excited when it was revealed that the treasure was in fact a bucket full of sweets and candy! The prize was presented to them by the Headmaster of Apostolic School where our Summer School is being held this year, and each child received a treat as a prize for taking part so nobody went home empty handed.
Great day, and thanks Matthieu for organising it!
By Anne Buglass
Thanks to donations by Fern Doonan who was volunteering in the Hills in June and July, our Care Coordinator Anne-Sophie was able to organise a trip to the nearby Boti Falls with the children from Mount Zion Foster Home and the volunteers who are working at the placement: Abigail Selden, Laura Watson and Lucy Wang. Fern has already donated desks for the school at Mt Zion Foster Home, provided the children with shoes and backpacks, and funded a graduation lunch party to mark the end of term. The volunteers kept the excursion a secret and announced the excursion as a surprise to the children on Wednesday morning. The children could hardly contain their excitement, and they went quickly to change into their best clothes for the trip!
They left the Foster Home at 9.30 am, taking with them a picnic of jollof and fish for the children. They made the most of the good weather by splashing around in the pool and climbing behind the falls. The children and the volunteers had a great day, and everybody came back with a lot of good memories and some great pictures.
By Anne Buglass
About a five minute walk from Kejetia (the central market of Kumasi), is the Culture Centre. This is one of the most popular places in among the volunteers in Kumasi.
The Culture Centre is one of the biggest of its kind and is impressive. There is a museum of Ashanti history (Prempeh II Jubilee Museum), a library, a book store, a restaurant (Kentish kitchen), an excellent crafts shop and an exhibition hall. This is where you can buy souvenirs of the highest quality and for a decent price. The great thing is that it is very close to the centre and it is very accessible. The whole complex is large and it feels like it is a small village within it and actually quite pleasant just walking inside it.
There is a fare every summer for about a month and a half where the artists from all over Kumasi gather in the Culture Centre to sell their goods. This happens from around June to August so make sure you don’t miss out! I managed to buy a lot of things during the period for a cheap price and it was great as they had everything that I wanted.
The museum tour wasn’t all that great, but maybe it was because I was spoilt by the vastly superior Armed Forces Museum. The Prempeh II Jubilee Museum consists of just one room and houses several precious artefacts from the Ashanti Empire and the Manhyia palace. Perhaps the most interesting object is the “treasure-bag” of Okonfo Anokye, which was made on the same day as the Konfo Anokye Sword (see previous blog posts). The legend is very similar to the sword – if the bag is to be opened, the Ashanti Empire will be no more. There are other objects like the fake stool they gave to the British, and other original ‘black stools’, which the kings sat on.
If you carry further along into the Centre, you will come across a store with paintings. Inside you might be able to meet a painter called Joel. He is physically disabled – he sits in a wheelchair, he cannot use his hands normally and so he paints with his mouth. He is very nice and the people he works with are nice as well, so it becomes very difficult to haggle when buying his paintings! His paintings are marvellous and it is worth visiting the Culture Centre just to meet him!
By Minato Kobori
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