Ghana, a country located on the coast of West Africa, has twenty nationally recognized languages. “Ghana” in Soninke, an African language, means “Warrior King.” This name dates back to the Medieval period where Ghana was an empire that stretched north into what is present-day Guinea.
Garett Heaney (’20) visited Ghana and reflected on a very positive and welcoming country.
“There was an event at one of the schools we visited where they put a cloth around our waists and taught us Ghanaian dances for what felt like forever. The music and dances were great,” said Heaney. “Afterward, they did a religious ceremony and welcomed us into their village. The food they provided was wonderful! This village went above and beyond for their celebration in thanking us for our help in their school.”
The most popular forms of music are Ghanaian jazz and its oldest form of secular music called “highlife.” A popular genre created by the youth of Ghana that rose up in the 90’s is called “hiplife,” which combines hip-hop and “highlife.” Instruments used in Ghana can consist of talking drums, log xylophones and akan drums.
“Ghanaian cuisine is starch and protein-based. Soups are widely made and many signature dishes, such as Banku and Fufu, are staples of their diet. They also have LARGE portion sizes,” said Heaney. “Also, if you stay with a host family, they will most likely cook you French fries if they want to make you an ‘American’ meal.”
Travel in Ghana sounds similar to that of a more rural area in the United States.
“Dirt roads encompass the country of Ghana with many being unfinished. Travel is long but manageable. Hiring a driver would be your best course of action,” Heaney said.
Every culture has different social norms. Heaney reflects on just one that he noticed.
“A social difference I noticed was that everyone says good morning/afternoon/ evening whenever they meet you. Unlike here in The United States, it is rude in Ghana to start a conversation without saying one of those three phrases depending on the time of day,” said Heaney.
During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies. Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethology, plant lifeform or shapes of inanimate and human-made objects.
Heaney traveled to Ghana on a P-Global Scholarship.
“I went to Ghana with the P-Global scholarship through a student-run non-profit organization called The Five North Project. The Five North Project’s purpose is to supply students in the Volta Region of Ghana with technology, such as desktop computers, projectors and printers for educational enhancement,” said Heaney. “We traveled to over 20 schools and delivered and installed over 550 computers throughout the 3 and a half weeks in Ghana.”
Heaney said, “My favorite part about visiting Ghana would be the people. I’ll never forget the interactions I had with the chieftains and their community members. They welcomed us and the volunteers, and they would throw festivals for us after we helped their school(s). The people loved when we showed interest in their culture and would teach us about their history and country.”
Heaney gives some final advice for anyone thinking about traveling to the beautiful country of Ghana.
“Ghana is a beautiful country with friendly people. They embrace tourists and enjoy hosting people from abroad. Visit waterfalls and safaris as much as possible if you ever go!”