Accra is not Ghana: There is beauty outside of your comfort zone
You simply cannot deny the beauty that lies within the Motherland, from its exquisite beaches, vibrant cultures and people. Travelling to any part of the continent is always a joyous occasion.
“Ladies and gentleman, please fasten your seatbelts as we’re now preparing to land at Kotoka Airport”, that is probably one of my favourite statements to hear. Well, “kenkey is ready”, is also another one on the top of my list! Being in Accra, has always been a joyous occasion. It’s the heat (although blazing at times), the abundance of my favourite foods and the feeling of peace brings me so much joy!
However, this is when I say, if you have only ever visited Accra, then you really haven't experienced Ghana! (Drops mic). Now before people start bringing out images of me enjoying the nightlife of Accra. Let me confess that I do love Accra and it will probably be my main home, until I am somewhat older. However, when I reflect back, my most memorable and treasured experiences have been outside of Accra and I will tell you why:
The Volta Region- I am open to debate as I have yet to travel to all the regions, but from my experience so far, the Volta Region is the most beautiful, serene, and cleanest part of Ghana. It also has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (Keta Beach). If you have not visited Keta Beach, I greatly encourage you to.
My Motherland, the Akwapim Region famous for its spectacular views, beautiful mountain top houses and fresh air. It also holds so many sentiments of my identity, my maternal family’s history and most importantly my beautiful grandma.
But in today’s blog, I am putting the spotlight on my Fatherland, the Asante Region, capital city Kumasi. Admittedly until recently, I did not appreciate the beauty of this rich culture. I’m sure this will resonate with many of you that took annual trips to Ghana as children. Trips to Kumasi meant being surrounded by extended family members, particularly the aunties and uncles who made sure that traditional cultural values were being followed. The restaurants were less modern and activities were not that much fun, leaving you eagerly counting down the days of when you could return back to Accra. In Accra, you could hang out at Labadi beach, have fried rice and chicken at Papaya , followed by Ice Cream at Frankies. (Looking back, it’s hilarious what we use to get excited about).
Anyways, during my extensive research into African history over the last few years, there has been continuous enlightenment of just how powerful and influential the Asante Empire was. Visiting Kumasi this year, for the first time in 8 years I was intrigued to learn more. My brothers were gracious enough to take me on a short tour to discover more about how the Asante Empire came together. To give you a little insight, Asante translated means "warlike", as before the 1670s, the region solely consisted of individual tributary states. This happened until the late; Asantehene Osei Tutu I, head of the Asante adwinehene clan obtained the support of other clan chiefs. Using Kumasi as the central base subdued surrounding Akan states to come together as a centralized hierarchical kingdom. As the saying goes there is power in numbers, and as a result the Ashanti state strongly resisted attempts by Europeans, mainly the Kingdom of Great Britain, to conquer them. There were 4 wars, the last being led by a national hero and one of my favourite role models Queen Yaa Asantewaa who fought boldly and courageously for the dignity and heritage of the Asante people. Now I could go on, but I would be exploring this further later.
Moreover, I would also encourage you to really consider visiting Kumasi, so that you can experience it for yourself. With this in mind, I have listed below some activities for you to consider engaging in during your stay in Kumasi. I believe these activities will enable you to encounter both the rich historic heritage as well as live the daily cultural experiences.
So, below are my top 5 recommendations of things to do in Ghana, Kumasi
Manhiya Palace Museum (Asantehene's Palace)
This beautiful Museum exhibits objects, photographs, and battle dresses of historical significance. It also shares the story of Asante’s great leaders and the Golden stool.
From African print cloth to fresh vegetables and fruits, to souvenirs, Kejetia market is the commercial heart of Kumasi. Be sure to bring enough coins, because if you’re anything like me you would want to buy anything, leverage your bargaining skills. I would encourage you, if possible to find a local person, one who’s knowledgeable about the area, to accompany you.
Kumasi Fort and Military Museum
Showcasing a collection of war weapons, medals, photographs artefacts from both the British-Ashanti war and World War II. You also get to visit the confined space, where Yaa Asantewaa was imprisoned.
For a relaxing day embracing Mother Nature, a trip to Lake Bosumtwi is a must. It’s the only inland lake in the country and it will allow you to appreciate nature with its spectacular views.
Kumasi Centre for National Culture
Vibrant Art, sculptures, souvenirs, workshops to participate in and within the cultural centre is also the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum. It contains a selection of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the Asante people and royalty.
Ghana is indeed a special place, from its weather, history, culture and food so ensure that you spend some quality time touring around. You will definitely be in awe of some of the hidden gems Ghana is endowed with, when you decide to step out of your comfort zone.
I’m really interested to also hear about your own experiences of the different regions in Ghana below. If there’s anything else you would like for me to share on things to do in Ghana, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
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“The only man I envy is the one who has never been to Africa, for he has so much to look forward to” - Richard Mullin