If you are fed up with crowded and polluted Accra city center, if you feel like breathing better and cooler not too far from the town, I really advise you to go to Aburi.
After you left Accra, you drive through the green hills for about 40 mn until you arrive in the centre of Aburi. The botanical garden in Aburi was started by the British and opened in March 1890.
The Botanical garden in ABURI
It is not expensive to enter with your car ( 2.5€ )and driving into it, there is a line of tall trees that makes you feel like you are in Beverly Hills :
Then you can have a nice walk through Aburi Botanical Garden. Due to the altitude of Aburi, the climate is a really cooler than neighbouring Accra.
However, if you wanted to have a long walk it is not for you since it is quite small…
As you can see , you will discover the ficus tree which is so big that you can enter in its trunk!
There are more than 350 different plants species which are growing in Aburi. There is a romantic lane, “Lovers Lane” where roses are growing, and an area with the “brown gold” of Ghana: cocoa.
There are many huge termite mound too ! Just have a look !
The botanical garden is a great place to relax and take “fresh” air, and watch to birds:
If you want to look to huge majestic trees one after the other, and take a nap under trees in a cool temperature, then you will enjoy the place.
Moreover, I advise you to plan a picnic with friends and children which can be perfect It will be a great place to let the kids run around without any fear : there is a “retired “helicopter which is perfect for them to play inside too.
There are small eating places within the gardens too but it doesn’t seem like good ones. You should come with your own food or go and eat in Hillbury, a greatplace that I love.
If you prefer going to the restaurant with your family or friends and rest to Hillbury resort, you will discover a majestic hotel in the spectacular Akwapim mountain range.
The views is amazing over the surrounding mountains and you an rest in the swimming pool in front of the evergreen valley of the majestic view.You will thenn feel better, escaping the crowded places, and most of all you will enjoy good food.
On the afternoon, you can also go to a farm not far from Aburi center where you can buy fruits and vegetable and see their pigs too!
Then after all this, I am sure that you will come back to Accra with good energy 🙂
Time has come to have 2 weeks easter holidays in France !
Save the date : Marseille, Bordeaux, St Palais-sur-Mer and Paris !
By plane, train, taxi or buses , subway and feet 😮
Before leaving your host country for Holidays :
Holidays for expatriates are planned and checked by the company of your husband or boyfriend quite a long time before.
And it does not look like resting days !!
Making everything ready to take off the D day.
Now that you have your plane ticket and you have chosen where to land, you have to organise the meetings for the two parents family and friends.
I started with my boyfriend family in Marseille, then my family and friends near Bordeaux and at last but not least all my friends in Paris.
For my friends, I used Facebook by posting the dates of the week I ll be in Paris to organise each several days with them ( lunch, shopping session, diner..) and manage to see everybody.
J – 10
Now that you have you schedule complete, you want to bring small presents from Ghana to family and best friends and also for birthday or 2 new baby birth.
I decided to go to the Art Market ” in Accra to find some little products in wood of roses ( small animals like elephants 😉
I have also been to Marina Mall, for cosmetic made in Ghana with shea butter cream or essential oil or tea tree :
I bought some soaps and shea butter from the “all for nature ” shops
And the best presents I think are made by my friend Lova in Accra who buy her fabric in Ghana and then can sew by hand all what you want : I ordered her some typical things for birthday : pillow, bags, etc… She sells all products on a little market website : crea by lova
Check all that you are missing in your host country which does not exist or is too expensive:
Part of the list : chocolate, french mustard, cheese, your favorite wine…
You pack everything (quite nothing except presents since you still have clothes for winter/summer at home) and take two suitcases to come back with products.
D DAY at last!!
I m ready to jump into the first plane for 6 hours flight to Amsterdam and the second plane to Marseille and few days after ……
And after a while… I finally arrived HOME ! !
My parents house near Royan, in St Palais sur Mer!!
I had not seen them for 4 months.
The day after my arrival to my parents place ……..
WHAT do you think I did ?!?!??
I have been on early morning to a supermarket !! Yes what you have just read is true : Super Market !!
I wanted to buy the products I do not eat in Accra because there are not or they are too expensive: such as chocolate, cheese, french bread, good wines, yogourt, mustard, ice cream , oisters….
At the payment desk, no plastic bag is given : now you need to have your own bag for food.
It is so good not to see all plastics on the ground everywhere you go… in Ghana, people do not care about it because I think that they are not aware of pollution and what is dangerous for the planet.
Then I could enjoy time here with friends and family :
A little of Ghana in Vaux sur Mer/ St Palais sur Mer :
What a surprise I had while going to “la maison blanche” , a wonderful and beautiful place (to eat and drink and even dance at night ) in front of the beach of Nauzan and the sea :the Ghanaian flag red/yellow and green alnd instead the black stars there was the logo of the ” white house” .
I thought i was not seeing well but yes when I ask the waiter it is was effectively the director who love ghana and Bob Marley as well.
When you live as an expat and espacially far from Francee, like in Ghana, you can not always choose your holidays at the good period, and as soon as your parents house is far, you can not go there for 2 days chritsmas feast…
So in 2014, we decided to spend ou first christmas in Ghana under the sun and the heat! It is strange to see christmas trees in street or in shops when it is 35 degrees!!
So, we decided to stay 4 days in Axim, which is 6 hours drive from Accra, located just before the Ivory Coast.
We had booked for a very wonderful and peaceful hotel with perfect nice bungalow.
We wanted to rest, breathes fresh and ocean air, and have good lunch and of course visit all around.
And it is what we did!
Axim, a very nice beach horizon…
We arrived in Axim after being stop several times by police who always stop you even if you did nothing and lies to you to get some money whereas you go to police station…So with few cedis less in our pockets, we finally arrived to our wonderful place to stay and rest.
Axim is a coastal town, about 60 km west of the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi in Western Region.
Our bungalow in Axim Beach Hotel looked like the ghanaian house in North of Ghana, and was in front of the beach, which was out of this world.
Inside, it was great too :
The views are amazing from the chalets; the bathrooms charming with wonderful shells incorporated into the design; the beds comfortable
During the night you can listen to the waves… so relaxing…and magic moment!
But to enjoy this time, make sure to take a lot of bug repellents for the night time mosquito attacks…if you do not have the moquito net!
Eva, a german woman is running the restaurant with meticulous efficiency and always happy to help with any food requests.
Do not forget to request the on duty personnel to get some of the freshest coconut with the sweetest water for you or some hard drink.
Some people might say that the food takes a long time to be served but that is the general timeline of restaurants all across Ghana. We found it very good and advise you to eat there.
One morning, we went on a canoe through the mangrove, 3 mn from the hotel.
Nzuelezo, the village above the water
Early in the morning, we went to discovert a typical village called Nzuelezo, which is not far from Axim.
We took a canoe and we were brought throught different landscapes until we discover….
the stilts village !
When we were on the pontoon of the village, we started to see people cutting piece of wood to make small boat to sell for tourists like us, and of course we bought several for us and family or friends!
In the casi unique “street” of the village, there was also the school.
I met tourist girls (scared with water, wearing the lifejacket) who wanted a picture with a white ‘obruni” so I agreed of course 🙂
Even small children are used to take a boat alone!
Then we went back to the hotel,
and started there to rest
We really had great time there and we both recommand this place!
Since I was asked if I could tell more about how to be a volunteer, how to choose a reliable association, I decided to create a dedicated part with several point to help you for volunteering in Ghana !
Why and how to be a volunteer?
There are different steps and questions to answer yourself before starting to be a volunteer:
1. You have to know how long you will stay and propose your help
2. Decide what type of volunteering you want to do
3. How many hours by week you want to give
4. What type of association you will like to give help and time
My personnal experience as a volunteer for Beacon House orphanage in Accra :
I decided to start helping Beacon House because a friend of mine, Sophie, a young french girl (it was her first expat in ghana) used to be the nurse helping kids in the orphenage. During nearly a year, she was a volunteer but unfortunately, she had to go back to France because of her husband work .
So she is the one who introduced me to the director, Romana, who is such an amazing american woman who created this orphenage.
There, I met also the wife of Bolloré Africa Logistic country manager who was also a nurse and volunteer there with my friend.
As to the consequence, there were enough good reasons to believe in the good and reliability of this orphenage association called Beacon House, located in East Legon not far from french school in Accra.
When my friend Sophie unfortunately left Ghana to go back to France, I started to replace her. It was this January 2016.
I met and worked during about 2 months with Bolloré country manager’s wife (called also Sophie) but then she moved also in March. (Expats’ life is like this… you moove every 2 or 3 years…).
Right now, I’m working with an american student, Sarah, who is learning psychology in the ghanain university of Accra. She comes 3 times a week on afternoons to teach them english well and read books. We get along very well.
My registration and actions as a volunteer for Beacon House:
I “registered” and signed a legal paper to Romana giving the days and hours I wanted to give as a volunteer and when I will come in her orphenage (twice a week on afternoons).
We discussed about the missions I wanted to do : I could help for many things ! So we decided together that I would replace Sophie with preparing medecines set for kids having HIV each week on wednesday, and that I would go to hospital with them when they needed to see the doctor and renew their medecines.
As I wanted to give time to kids playing with them , and since I love music and dancing, I proposed to give Zumba lessons to them on fridays afternoon too.
Romana created this orphenage in 2005. She is an american woman and has adopted 2 ghanaian chidren too.
She lives inside the house with kids.
Her dedication is to help children making them believe that they are loved, that they matter and, despite what they have faced in the past, their dreams can come true.
When Beacon House was created?
Beacon House has opened in 2005, and has served the Ghanaian community through fostering orphaned and vulnerable children and assisting at-risk families in their communities.
How many children is living in the orphenage?
There are about 20 children in this family in April 2006 in Beacon House (as you can see on pictures on the link before), from 9 months to 20 years old. Solo is the oldest because he is blind and has mental problems so unfortunately he will stay here his entire life.
Theses kids used to be malnourished with developmental delays and chronic, life threatening illnesses.
The last orphan baby called “Benji” who Romana is helping right now to survive is only 9 months. She put him in hospital because he has a critical illness : she is paying aghanain woman to take care and be with him all the time in the hospital. He will go soon to an orthopedic center because he was operated and need rehabilitation for his back before coming to the orphenage one day when he will be cured.
How are orphans there?
With the help of volunteers (students from Accra University exchange with USA) and local staff (one house manager, one cooker/ housekeeper, one ghanaian”mummy” taking care of the baby Matthew 8 months only, one driver to go to buy food, take kids to hospital) and of course the director of the orphenage “Romana” who lives inside the house with them.
I can see from inside that orphans (or children rejected by their own family who could not afford them) are now in good shape, having a normal life and are happy living all together as brothers and sisters.
Children are happy there, eating well, going to school, having healthcare, and most of all having LOVE from students and volunteers, woman working there and Romana since she lives with them and has her bedroom upstairs…
Which are Beacon House last and recent projects?
Become self sufficient in a new house outside Accra :
Beacon House will soon moove to another “house” near the Dodowa Road, 30 mn drive from Accra. They will live there next October normally. They want to become self sufficient, eat properly a diversification food. They will not have to pay a rent in East Legon anymore.
There are a few things already on the land: a wall marking the property, a guard house, a chicken coop, and fruit trees have been planted and also orange, lemon, avocado… and mango trees will provide nice fruits to the children and staff of the orphenage.
A mother from my school gave me also 3 rabbits too for them (and you all know that rabbits make lots of babies!): so that they will put the rabbits on the land (some to play with kids but also to eat its meat).
Funding from an american college in the US and other association help them to build a chicken coop, so they bought 200 chicks and upkeep them until they started producing eggs
The chickens are now producing eggs; these not only supplement the nutritional protein needs of our growing children and those children who come to Beacon House malnourished but they also provide Beacon House with an income … an income to help off-set our other food purchasing expenses and some household supplies.
WHY do I have chosen to help a small orphanage and not a big and famous ONG who woulf be in Ghana?
I like being a volunteer for this “Beacon House” orphenage because it is “human size” and that each child is imporant for Romana, and she takes care of them as if it was all her own kids. It is important for me to see actions from inside, meet the donators even if they are small like neighbours giving a cake for a birthday kid.
I like to be next to them, know their names… know all their age…what they would like to be later (many wants to help children as a doctor). And start to share love together.
I could not maybe see that in a huge association who helps thousands of orphans from all Ghana. It is why I prefered myself to choose small.
But for me, I prefer to give clothes, food and time to each kids and givin love to each…
It is my choice but everybody can do what the feels is better of course! It will depend from your point of view but the objective will still the same :
Helping to give the opportunity to have a Happy and Healthy Life and access to Education and have good food everyday.
See now my actions to find donators for beacon House orphenage !
After giving zumba lesson My second aim was to find and research donators from expat community and other sponsors with companies:
As you may know, I am graduated in Marketing and Communication so I could use my experience for a good cause.
I proposed Romana to find some partners to help the orphanage with its everyday needs which are mostly having food and pay for school for the 20 kids (school is expensive an not free like in France !)
I first began to ask my own friends who had tall kids and do not used anymore their clothes, shoes, toys and teddy bears… I started to collect things to redistribute to the orphenage like this with always good intentions and love. An very very soon, within 2 weeks, with word of mouth (or god?!), mothers from french school started asking me on morning when leaving their kids to school, what the orphenage needed so that they would give to me.
I started to be the link between donators and Beacon House and I was happy that french expats (mostly women) had confidence in me and “my” orphanage Beacon House without seeing anything but just believe in myself. And, most of all, I was not only given clothes but also bed for baby, a bathtub, highchair, a stroller and food which was the most needed for everyday life and follow the link to see their need for food to feed 20 people to feed in Beacon House !!!!
I’d like to THANK all of YOU by taking now this opportunity to tell you again:
THANK YOU ALL, MY FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES OR ACQUAINTANCES FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS WHATEVER BIG OR SMALL, GIVEN WITH HEART, WHICH I BELIEVE IS THE POINT.”
Thank you Lova, Brigitte, Noreen, Pauline, Marine, and Maria, my 6 closest relation friends from Accra and also my spouse – : I will never tell you enough times how much I LOVE you and how you are important in my everyday balance-
Thank you to make me always believe in myself, who supported me when I lost faith last week, and gave me both material help and food like Brigitte who still prepare with LOVE, and above all fresh fruits “baby sauce” for baby Matthew who is nearly 8 months.
-“He enjoys it so much” told me Barbara, his “mother of heart“!!!
I go on with saying thank you to my best friends from France, Caroline, Vanessa, Emilie, Cécile and Florence and others from all parts of France, who, even far from 4000km, even if I did not see these people from my primary or business school (Capucine, Hélène, Réjane, Sarah, Nassira, Virginie, Delphine, Claire…) , who still support and encourage me a lot from the begining and are waiting for me next week in Paris to give me also basic medecines, and material support… to Beacon House.
I will now say thanks to all mothers from french school, who I knew before being a volunteer ot not, who talked of me to their friends also from Accra or France :
Anne-Marie and Corinne – woman with such a big heart, who gave me hut , swing, huge boxes of pinapple, books and shoes, and even 3 rabbits !!!!!
And of course : my friends Mongia and Amy : who together , gave me the opportunity to do an amazing ” Beads activity” with beads bought from TK beads near Accra. And thanks Mongia for your listening and understanding especially during the last weeks…
And also Sophie L, (for all toys, rings, clothes…) , Clotilde M.G (thanks for the cosy, apple sauce for Matthew, ect…., Virginie F.S.G , who give me from France thanks to Stéphanie M medecines, but also a huge drawing map for all, it was so great !! Thanks Virginie for your support, you have faith in humanity, I ‘ll pray for you and family health with all my heart and conviction) , Floriane (for bathtub and clothes) , Marjorie (for the indispensable baby chair) , Suzel, (for giving her own clothes to the ladies working in the orphenage),
And also Myriam, Nathalie O.E, Sophie, Servanne, Madonna, Arlette and Frédérique for you listening and your donations too ( I hope not to forgot someone, if so, just tell me, I will add your name !!!!)
AND … at last but not least….
MY FIRST huge donator from Accra now : is the owner of “NUMERO UNO” shop (in Marina Mall).
Without these mothers, I would not have believed that I could find “more and more and more… donations from here and France and Belgium “, they gave me the energy to go on forwards till what occured this last monday, April 19th, with Numero Unoand its huge clothes donation, as you can read on my “projects for Beacon House” part.
I showed the mothers donators pictures of the kids with their clothes, playing with toys they gave, and sleeping in a brand new stroller. Everybody thanks me and were thanks back by Beacon House with a photo letter with thanks signature from the kids.
Why not trying to do even more now?
This wonderful spirit of generosity thanks to all expat friends and others made me think that many would like to help for one cause in which they believe it is good.
HERE ARE THE LATEST NEWS ACTIONS AND RESULTS :
One saturday, while going to the supermarket I enter in “Numero Uno” which is a clothes shop in Marina Mall in Airport area. It has from babys to women with different brands such as Zara, ect…
I was looking for Afia and Regina birthday present and I was served by the director, Vera, Who is a lebanese having 3 shops in Accra area.
Speaking with her, I explained her my needs and that the kids were the orphans from Beacon House.
She told me that she kwew someone too volunteer in another orphanage that she helps by giving her clothes that she more sell from old collection or with small defects.++
As she goes on, she talked me about her flooded warehouse which occured one month ago I think. Its clothes could no more be sold now in hers shops and so she would be pleased to donate it for a small and human size association as Beacon House. Clothes are in cardboard packaging 30 mn from Accra and I would just need a big pick up to take it all and resistribute to differnets orphenages.
I was so glad to meet her and hear her proposal !
I replied with big smile that I will do that : make a commitment personally so that I can show her it is well done and so that it benefits to the orphanage I am volunteer. First I would give some for them and after I would find other reliable small associations to also help other orphans with the help of Romana who has many contacts with small association helpings orphans in remote villages in different part of Ghana as you can the on the link beofre..
ANOTHER PARTNER FOR THIS DONATION
I asked my friends if one of them had a pick up explaining “Numero Uno” big donations.
One of them told me I should ask for Bolloré Africa Logistic pick- up , since I told you the wife of Ghana Bolloré manager used to be a volunteer for Beacon House till march 2016.
And the next day I had a positive reponse for that!
Everything was going perfect!
Then, monday, March, 18th, I went to the warehouse of Numero Uno with Bolloré Africa Logistic pick up, and take the big clothes donations!
I find friends to help us in washing some clothes each which have some wate task (I asked already on facebook and tahnks for all your “Yes” ). I’m so happy for that too!
Here are the steps through photos!
First, meeting Vera, Numero Uno manager shop, to go to her Warehouse outside Accra, with Bolloré pick up.
West Africa is rich in arts & crafts, and you can see this art in Ghana, in Accra, the capital.
Art for real fullfilment and love does not traditionally exist in Africa : everything that was crafted had some purpose behind it.
In Ghana, you can find beautiful hand woven textiles, old and new beads, brass works, gold jewelry, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings.
ARTS CENTER is not the only place to buy regional art, but where that sale takes place depends on what kind of story you want to tell about the purchase. ARTS CENTER, TETTEH QUARSHIE ART MARKET near Airport area., village Markets, Wild Gecko (a shop mostly dedicated to expats), Global Mamas (clothes shop in OSU) are the places to find it.
The Centre for National Arts and Culture, popularly known as Arts Centre, is located next to the Kwame Nkrumah Musoleum, off the High Street in Accra. The center became very popular in the 80’s for its leisure and entertainment.
Arts Centre is a wonderful maze of more than 100 stalls which have all a number on the top of their roof for te ones outside.
When my car’s door opened, handshakes and a hearty welcome to the Accra welcomed me in Arts Center.
However, it does not look like very nice, big, orderly building…. Rather, it is a crowded collection of vendor stalls who will do anything to invite you to come and see their products: joke, sing, tug at sleeves… from your car parking.
TIPS TO HAVE A GOOD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Visiting the Arts center may be an exciting experience for tourists who are not used to the aggressive but thrilling negociation process … Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find cheap and nice gift to buy!
A tips : if you say nothing, theses vendors will take you to their stall unless you asked them nicely several times. So try to be hard when saying NO because after that you will have one then 2, and 3,4,5 vendors following you saying “Please, sister, have a look at my shop!” !!
Tourists equal big money and for market sellers, this competition for foreign dough can easily turn into shouting matches about somebody’s mama. Most of all, they sell the same products among craf staf, jewelry, fabrics…
Personnaly, I have been there several times there ewith friends and last time (for this article) I had Thomas, my driver. He came inside the Arts Center with me who was especially helpful in negotiating with me in their local language and also to take me pictures while looking to crafts product and negociating too:)
We walked along the “building,” which is really a cluster of stalls, towards the back, past old men leaning on scraggly wooden canes and bored children sitting in the dirt, glancing our way with feigned interest.
WHAT CAN YOU FIND INSIDE ARTS CENTER?
All kinds of handicrafts imaginable may be found in this market.
The items range from wood carvings, traditional musical instruments, cane and raffia products, leather ware, gold, silver and bronze jewelry, beads, clay products, antiques, paintings to ivory products, and many more.
These items are brought to the markets from various parts of the country and also from other countries within the West African sub-region including, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal and Nigeria.
The arts and craft market provides employment opportunities for many people. Skills have been developed in carving, painting, designing, metal works to service the market.
The buyers are made up of those purchasing a few items to customers who place orders for large quantities of various products. A lot of buyers are tourists and other foreigners visiting Ghana.
CRAFTS CHEAP PRICES
I already bought many craft things for my family, friends and ourselves.
For exemple, I bought a “Chief Chair” for less than 400 GHC (100€) in a beautiful wood.
You can negociate a lot because they have the same products in different stalls and also you will n ot find many other tourist in the market!
For a salad tongs you will pay 5€, for a small elephant (6 cm) 8 €, I also bought a table for 10€ and a big giraf cost 75 €.
These african comb or stick cost me 4 € each.
All this is very well made and is cheap I think.
BUYERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
Art center is in fact one of the most important tourist attraction sites in the City of Accra and in Ghana. For this reason, some international famous people visiting Ghana for official assignments are taken to the market to see and perhaps buy some of the crafts on display. These customers spend hundreds of thousands of cedis including foreign exchange at the place.
Because the craft market is very old and there’s been no investment in infrastructure, the structures housing the exhibits are very dilapidated. It is expected the safety and comfort of visitors would be better guaranteed when the rehabilitation and expansion takes place. The multi million dollar project would include the construction of market stalls, workshops, storerooms, restaurants, communication centers, show rooms and modern places of convenience. The Greater Accra Handicraft Dealers Association was formed in 1994.
Visitors at the market told that the market is very popular in Europe and America because of the variety and quality of the handicrafts available. Some of them said the items that they purchase are sent home as gifts for their loved ones and relations while others explained that they buy and resell in America and Europe.
HOPE YOU ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
AND THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO DISCOVER THIS TYPICAL ARTS CENTER IN ACCRA !
Shai hills reserve, peaceful place 50mn from Accra
Shai Hills Resource Reserve is les than an hour north of Accra bordering the Akosombo road. The reserve is 51 square kilometres. This makes this location a small but the closest wildlife viewing areas to Accra.
Shai Hills is a plain by topography but has outcrops of 5 hills. The hills in the Shai area is base to several stone quarries.
Shai Hills also has rich history and heritage of Ga people : the hill was home to the ancestors of the people of Shai and still contains vestiges. It was the British colonial masters who forcibly expelled them in 1892 on the allegation that the natives were committing ritual murders.
Its vegetation is a combination of open and wooded grassland, savanna covered plains. To date 31 mammals, 13 reptiles and 175 bird species have been identified in the reserve.
The baboon troop at the front gate can be very amusing, but be warned these are dangerous animals and they love to snatch your unattended personal belongings!
Two ostriches are also there and they come to you when the guards call them with a “specific noise”.
Best times are in the evenings or during sunset. The lighted city skyline is a sight to behold.
During morning, you may meet Kob antelope, bushbuck or monkeys, although the monkeys here are not habituated like at Tafi Atome or Boabeng-Fiema.
You can travel the park in a 4X4 vehicle or on foot with an armed escort from the hours of 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Visitors can climb up the summit of the caves and the inselbergs in the reserve to view the plains of Accra.
Three caves can be found in the reserve and these are Adwuku, Sayu and Hieweyu.
These caves provide an excellent home for bats which will spend the entire day sleeping only to wake up in the night.
It is an easy clim (look, I even did it with my flip flop!) It takes 10 mn for the 1st one (the photo underneath) and one hour the one on the above photo)
Crocodiles, snakes and tortoises can also be spotted …they say…. but noone of my friends have seen them already !!
The bird life in the park is something really important since migratory birds can be seen :
There are the Senegal parrot, grey plantain eater, hornbill, red northern bishop and violet turaco are in the Shai Hills reserve. Other birds to be found in Shai Hills Resource reserve include Senegal cuckoo, stone partridge and francolin. This makes the reserve a bird lover’s paradise.
At night, we went to sleep to Stone Lodge , at 5km from the reserve, a very nice hotel in the middle of the contryside with a nice swimming pool and quite good meals.
Which coffin do you fancy?
Who wants to visit death on vacation ?
Believe it or not, a visit to Ghana’s coffin makers is on most tourists’ itineraries here!!
I would have never find alone the Kane Kwei Coffins oldest shop in this road near Labadi Beach without Accra Accueil visit last year…
In European cultures, we cremate our dead or bury them in a simple pine box.
But coffins are a lot fancier in Ghana, where the Ga people believe that life continues in another world after death, and they want it to carry on in style.
And while a funeral lasts just a few hours, since eternity is, well, eternity, it’s important to spend it in style!!
In April 6th, 2016, I had an interview with Eric whose grandcather created the first fantasy coffin. You can learn more on their Ghana coffin history website.
He explained me everything and i will share it now with you :
First: its ORIGINS BELIEVES
The reason why mostly all ghanaian use such coffins is their religious beliefs regarding the afterlife.
They believe that death is not the end and that life continues in the next world in the same way it did on earth.
The social status of the deceased depends primarily on the importance, success and usage of an exclusive coffin during a burial.
During the delivery to the customer, the coffin is enveloped of kraft paper or cloth because tradition wants work to be revealed only at the time of funeral.
AND ITS MEANING
They often symbolise the dead people’s professions. but also what they did for a living, their hopes, their vices…
Certain shapes, such as a sword or stool coffin, represent regal or priestly insignia with a magical and religious function. Only people with the appropriate status are allowed to be buried in these types of coffins.
Some animals, such as lions, cockerels and crabs can represent clan totems. Similarly, only the heads of the families concerned are permitted to be buried in coffins such as these.
A fisher will be buried in a coffin in the form of fish or in a fishing boat, a professor in a fountain pen balk, etc.
The one who used to ask for a “beer shape “coffin was first not well seen by ghanian…but these years now, it is no more seen as an hard drink person but a person enjoying festivity in life. The ghanaian who asked the bottle of coke or fruit juice were working in theses companies.
The aspirations of the missing person are reflected by the coffin which is intended for him: the plane for instance was never ordered to bury a pilot, but resides a symbol of distant trips testifying a social success. Same for luxury cars.
Fish are very popular designs–the fishing industry is big here–as are Bibles, the only fantasy coffins allowed in churches in this deeply religious country.
Making the coffins
Fantasy coffins are produced only to order. Carpenters have several apprentices who allow the them to make several coffins simultaneously or all work on a single one in urgent cases.
The coffins are generally made from white light local wood and not very expensive as the wawa or Nyame Dua. It will take two to six weeks to produce the coffin.
The woodworking is done using the simplest tools, without the aid of electrical ones.
Building is more or less complex according to the form of the model, the desired level of details.
The coffins of cylindrical or approached form (fish, mammals, fountain pen) are accomplished as a model of subject without worries of the opening intended to accept the body. This one will be later cut up.
The painting of the figural coffins can take up to two days to finish and are painted by the head of the workshop, local sign writers…. who usually decide together the coffin’ s patterns and colours.
One shop may produce 20 coffins by months. There are about 10 in Accra.
In a country where many people live on barely $2 a day, no expense is spared for the most important part of life: death. With prestige riding on the size and extravagance of the funeral, family members collect, borrow, and donate money to send their loved ones off to the afterlife in style. Funerals can cost up to a year’s salary.
ERIC COFFIN EXHIBITIONS ABROAD
Eric’s grandfather was the one who had the idea of such coffin, first for himself and then it spread in all the villages around …until Accra.
Now Eric is proud to open one more studio in Kumasi this year 2016.
In 2009, he was asked to participate in a moovie for coca cola ads for Spain to explain ghanaian coffins can see on youtube the Coca cola coffin TV ad.
Since then, he travelled a lots and still makes exhibition all over the world : in Russia in 2010’s (he did a Vodka bottle ;), Korea …. he sells one for $5000 to $10000 dollars now but it takes him a month to create it himself alone in the host country !
Eric also wants to deliver “messages” to people thanks to its fantasy coffin :
For exemple, in the US, in 2011, he created a coffin in shape of a gun, and they cut it in 2 during the exhibition to show and ask people to stop violence.
Another one was to preserve environment : it was a “fish coffin” with plastics inside. Plastic kills fish when they eat that in the sea…and coffin means death of course..
A very symbolic art !
The coffins cost between $300 and $1000 for ghanaian defunt with trees from kumasi uch as “wawa”and galeries or museums buy coffins up for $10,000 with wood from mahogany or “emery” wood.
Last Eric ideas for a tourist gift:
Recently, ghanaian have recognized the quirkiness of their coffins design and have reacreated them in gift size for tourists.
There is now a roaring trade in the smaller version !
Hope that if you come one day in Ghana, you will take time to discover this art with fantasy ghanaian coffins and talk to Eric in his coffins workshop !