Ghana is located in western Africa, situated on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, bordered to the northwest and north by Burkina Faso, to the east by Togo, to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by Côte d’Ivoire. The word Ghana means “Warrior King” and it derives from the ancient Ghana Empire. Africa for beginners who are traveling to the continent for the first time.
This land was in fact inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient Akan Kingdoms. The region would eventually become a British Crown colony called Gold Coast, and more than 30 forts and castles were constructed. For centuries the Gold Coast was known as ‘The White Man’s Grave’ due to the amount of Europeans who perished from malaria and other tropical diseases. Modern-day Ghana, which gained its independence on March 6, 1957, consists primarily of the former Gold Coast. The colony’s drive for independence was led by nationalist and Pan-African leader Kwame Nkrumah, who viewed Ghana’s sovereignty as being important not only for the Ghanaian people but for all of Africa, saying “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.” Indeed, more than 30 other African countries, spurred by Ghana’s example, followed suit and declared their own independence within the next decade.
UNESCO Heritage sites in Ghana include:
1. Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions, Asante Traditional Buildings, The site, north-east of Kumasi, hosts the final intact remains of the Ashanti Empire, which peaked in the 18th century. The dwellings, which are made of earth, wood, and straw, are susceptible to the damages caused by the “onslaught of time and weather.
2. Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions. Is the collective designation by UNESCO of European-style fortifications and outposts (mostly Portuguese, Dutch and British) along the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) during the colonial period. (They include;
- Fort Groot-Friedrichsburg
- Cape Coast Castle
- Elmina Castle
- Fort Amsterdam
- Fort Apollonia
- Fort Batenstein
- Fort Coenraadsburg
- Fort Goede Hoop
- Fort Metal Cross
- Fort Patience
- Fort Prinzenstein
- Fort Santo Antonio
- Fort San Sebastian
- Fort Vredenburgh
- Fort William, Ghana
- Osu Castle
A long series of coups led to the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and a ban on political parties.
Many natives fled Ghana in the aftermath of the ban, migrating to other countries, and the economy significantly declined as a result. After a ten-year hiatus, political parties became legal again and many parties were formed. The major parties are the National Democratic Congress, the New Patriotic party and the Convention People’s Party. In December 2012, John Dramani Mahama won the presidential election, and defeated Nana Akufo-Addo, despite a ruling of thousands of misreported votes. He was elected again in 2016. Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992. Ghana has maintained its regional cultures and a peaceful cohabitation with various ethnic groups, stabilized her economy and runs a constitutional republic. Although there still exist regional kings who serve as cultural figures rather than governmental legislators.
Ghana has a wealth of both mineral and natural resources. During colonial times, Ghana was best known for its gold and it still is today. The country also exports diamonds, cocoa, timber, electricity, bauxite and manganese. Ghana is also the second largest Cocoa and Gold producer in Africa, hence the name Gold Coast. In 2007, an oil field was discovered offshore and oil exploration continues along with the production of oil. Ghana is the 13th and 47th largest oil producer in Africa and the world respectively. Ghana now produces 59,000 barrels daily from the Jubilee field, which has about 3 billion barrels oil reserves. Ghana is still one of the fastest growing countries on the continent.
There are over 75 ethnic groups in Ghana, although the people may be said to belong to one broad group within the African family, however, there is a large variety of subgroups. Many of these are very small, and only 10 of them are numerically significant. The largest of these groups are the Akan (which includes the Anyi, Asante [Ashanti], Baule, Fante, and Guang), Mole-Dagbani (Dagomba), Ewe, Ga-Adangme and Gurma. English as the official language.
Since Ghana has managed to hold on to its cultures for centuries, making it one of the most culturally rich places in the world as a result, this rich culture is reflected the most on Ghana’s local cuisine. Popular dishes include: Okrah soup, Banku (is made from fermented corn, which is served as orange size balls along with fried fish or meat), Kenkey & fried fish (fermented corn dough, wrapped in corn or plantain leaves and cooked into a consistent solid balls), Yam/Fufu (pounded cassava and plantain or pounded yam and plantain, or pounded cocoyam/taro), Chichinga (kebabs made from beef or sausages), Red Red (Cooked into a fine bean curry with a mix of prawns or fish), Waakye (spicy fried fish, egg, spaghetti or fried chicken).
Traditional chiefs continue to retain power over many small claims and domestic issues in rural areas, and Ghana’s cultural heritage still reflects its grounding in the greater history of West African civilization. As a result, music remains as integral to the everyday lives of Ghanaians as it has been for centuries. Intensely rhythmic and suffused with meaning, Ghana’s many traditions of song, dance, and drumming remain intimately attached to the survival of its communities. Music marks the cycles of life, animates religious rituals, and communicates social values. Among the Ewe, vocal ensembles, sometimes accompanied by simple percussion instruments, sing gogodzi to reflect the melancholy atmosphere of the occasion. Other occasions have women gather after the day’s work to sing gbolo or “marriage songs” that speak about their relationships with men and deride immoral relationships in the community. These songs maintain the cultural and moral standards of the group in their very performance. The Ashanti perform songs in the adowa style, among others, that focus on themes of loss and the chaos caused by death. In addition, a modern genre call Highlife is one of the most popular among youths.