This is Accra, Ghana

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Mark, Set Goals in  2020

Akwaaba! Welcome to Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Accra is hot, sometimes you wake up sweating profusely in the morning even in December. There are lots of food to eat in Accra ranging from Kenkey to Kwakye and fufu with light soup and goat meat. On the coast side of Jamestown in Accra, there are still relics of slave trade and filth generated by the people living around the area.

I have lived in Accra for the past twenty-one years except for the time I went to the United Kingdom to study at the University Leicester and times holidaying abroad and I can say that I know Accra and very well.  I have lived and worked Accra. Now it is time to return home. There is no place like home. Honestly, you won’t know how great Nigeria is until you travel around the world and see how other countries respect Nigeria and others looked down on us. I love my country. Nigeria is a great country.

In this report, I want to take you through Accra and another part of Ghana so that whenever you came around for visiting, you know where to go and how to behave.

When you view Accra from the airplane, you could see that Accra lies partly on a cliff and susceptible to faulting, that is the reason why you hear about earthquakes all the time. Something happened where I newly came here about twenty-one years ago. We were singing and dancing at the cluster of schools in Odorkor when the ground started shaking. “What is shaking this place?” I shouted aloud. Nobody seems to hear what I was talking about. I was shocked to my bones when that shaking became the headline in the Daily Graphic newspaper the next morning. “Earthquake hits Accra again”. Sometimes you hear the rumor that earthquake is coming hit Accra to and you waited and waited and nothing came. Thank God for His manifold mercies.

In the beginning, Accra in Akan language means Nkran or “ants” which refers to the soldier ants hills that used to be seen around Accra in the earlier days. The original people that live in Accra are called Gas while those in Kumasi are called the Ashantis. Many years ago, the Gas led by Ayi Kushie arrived in canoe by the sea from Lagos and met the Lartehs who left Accra for the Gas and relocated to Akuapem Ridge.

It was later the Dutch came. The Dutch are the first colonists that came for trading and they built the Usher Fort.  The British and Swedes also came to build their own James Fort and Christiansburg Castle. By the 17th century, Portugal, France, and Denmark had constructed forts in the city of Accra. Beginning 1851 the British has acquired the interest of all the other European countries. the Netherlands was the last to their sell interest to the British people. And they made some money in that deal, they are trading on Africans and trading in Africa. It is actually selling and taking the money back home.

In size, Accra covers an area of about 226 km with an estimated population of 4  million people. It is organized into 10 local government districts. To the south of Accra are the Atlantic Ocean and the beaches which include the Labadi beach, Kokrobite beach. It is unfortunate that most parts of Accra beaches are not well maintained. Unlike some advanced countries where the boardwalk is built and the beaches become big tourist earners for the countries, for most parts of Accra beaches, the people openly defecate on the beaches and especially the places around the Labadi, James Town and other places close the sea. On the western part of Accra is McCarthy  Hill crossing over to  Kasoa in the Central  Region. There are so many people who lived in Kosoa but are working in Accra which is just a distance of about ten kilometers. On the northern side of Accra is Madina and from there you move over to Aburi and from Aburi to Koforidua which is Eastern Region. Remember Aburi? That was the place General Yakubu Gowon  Odumegwu Ojukwu and others signed the Aburi Accord just before the civil war in 1967.

Accra replaced Cape Coast as the capital of the British Gold Coast in 1877. This decision was made because Accra had a drier climate relative to Cape Coast.  Accra was the capital of the Gold Coast from 1877-1957 before it transits to become the capital of Ghana when Ghana gained independence in 1957, thanks to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who returned from the United States of America and the United Kingdom to come and fight not only for the independence of Ghana but also for that of Africa.

In Accra, we have the Christiansburg, Jamestown and Usher town which are a relic of the colonial slave trade. Christiansburg otherwise known as Castle used to be the seat of government for so many years pre and post Kwame Nkrumah until the Government of John Dramani Mahama moved over to Flagstaff House which has now been named Jubilee House by the present government of Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo. That place Jubilee House was actually named Jubilee House by President John Agyekum Kufour in…. but was reverted to its original name by the National Democratic Party Government in … Again it was changed to Jubilee when the National Patriotic Party government came in 2016. I think some politics is been played out with Flagstaff/Jubilee house.

Government activities are concentrated around the place called Ministries and commercial activities are all over the city. Most modern residential apartments are now built around Airport Residential Are, East Legon, Spintex road and Cantonment Area.

Attractions

Accra is a beehive of natural, raw tourists attractions. With clean hotels to lodge and so many varieties of food to eat, there is no dull moment soon as you get into Accra. Some of the hotels you can lodge are The Holiday Inn which is just a stone throw from the airport and beautiful restaurant close to the pool. The staff are very courteous as they will attend to you with a smile. Accra Holiday Inn is very neat as even the owner is seen picking any pieces of paper on the surroundings. There are also the Labadi Beach Hotel, the La Palm beach hotel, Oak plaza at Spintex Road, Robin Hood also at Spintex Road, the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel and the Covenant Guest House located at Kasapreko Road. There are so many others around East Legon, Ridge, Accra Central, Airport Residential Area and Cantonment.

In case you are thinking of coming to hold conference tourism events in Accra, The Accra International Conference Center is the perfect place for you. Other attractions include the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum which is the final resting place of the first president of Ghana Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and of course the  Fort James (English), Fort Crevecoeur (Dutch), and Christiansborg Castle (Danish) castle which has now been opened for tourists since the seat of government has been moved to the Jubilee House. the Korle Bu General Hospital, which also houses the Ghana Medical School; the Holy Spirit (Roman Catholic), Holy Trinity (Anglican), and Methodist cathedrals; the national archives; and the national museum. Also located in the city are the offices of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

BANKS IN ACCRA

There are 29 banks in Ghana with 10 local banks and 19 foreign banks. Most of the foreign banks are from Nigeria. Although recently most the bank are doing merger and acquisition while others have taken over by the Bank of Ghana. The banks include the United Bank for Africa, Access Bank, GT Bank, Ghana Commercial Bank, Energy Commercial Bank, Zenith Bank, Consolidated Bank of Ghana and many microfinance and saving and Loan banks.

Oxford Street,  Osu remained the beehive of the nightlife of Accra.  If you are coming to Accra through the road from Aflao the border town  between Togo and Ghana,  you will first get to Tema, a suburb town build by Kwame Nkrumah to serve as a seaport and cater for those working in industries nearby. After Tema you drive straight to Accra and the first point of call as you entered Accra is the Tetteh Quarshie roundabout which is the biggest roundabout in Ghana. And talking about Tetteh Quarshie, he was the man that brought cocoa seed to Ghana from Fernadopo in. And since 1924, the cocoa that Tetteh Quarshie brought has been Ghana major export. How much money have Ghana raked from Exporting cocoa? Only heaven can tell. Can you imagine the good that one man can do to a nation? My question to you is this, what can you do for  Nigeria as Tetteh Quarshie did for Ghana? The Accra-Kumasi railway was built in 1908 connecting Accra to the cocoa-producing region

It was governor Frederick Gordon Guggsberg that built the largest hospital in Ghana Korlebu and the famous Achimota Secondary School.

Before Ghana became independent in 1957, two British guys, Fry/Travallion, made an elaborate plan to build country clubs, polo clubs, large public space, fountain, ornamental pools and statues all over Accra for the enjoyment of the elites especially the Europeans.  But when Kwame Nkrumah became the first post-independence prime minister in 1957, he dismantles all those plans by Fry/Treavallion and decides to build a landmark that will inspire nationalism and sense of patriotism for the African people. Nkrumah started to build, Organization of Africa Unity(OAU) square on Castle road, Independence Square near the Atlantic Ocean, Du Bois  Center, etc. He provides spaces where people can gather to denounce the British colonial mentality.  For Dr. Nkrumah, the independence of Ghana is not complete until it’s linked to the total liberation of Africa. What patriotism. Nkrumah is a great African nationalist. Other tourists attraction includes the  National Museum of Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Archives of Ghana and Ghana’s central library, the National Theatre, the Accra Centre for National Culture. The Parliament, Supreme Court of Ghana, Black Star Square and the Bank of Ghana.

In case you want to enjoy your holidays in Accra, I will suggest that you don’t come during the rainy season because Accra could be very messy during the rainy season. Flood has killed so many people.

The northern part of Accra consists of 37 Military Hospital, Achimota Golf Club, foreign embassies and High commissions, the University of Ghana, Legon.

Housing

Parts of Central Accra comprise a mixture of very-low-density development with under-used service infrastructure, on the one hand, high-density development, and overstretched infrastructure services on the other. The growth of Accra has led to the neglect of some of the old settlements, whilst efforts are being made to provide the newly developing suburban areas with services and infrastructure to cater to the needs of the middle-income earners. Peripheral residential development in Accra barely has sufficient infrastructure to support it. There are also large numbers of uncompleted houses, interspersed with pockets of undeveloped land, which are often subject to litigation, due to the inability of the individuals who own them to complete or develop them due to lack of funds. In Accra, housing can be grouped into three broad categories: low-income, middle-income, and high-income areas. The low-income housing areas comprise Osu, Jamestown,  Chorkor, La, Teshie, Nungua, Sukura, Kwashieman, Odorkor, Bubiashie, Abeka, Nima, Maamobi, and Chorkor. Altogether, these areas accommodate about 58% of Accra’s total population. Most of Accra’s informal businesses are located in low-income areas.

Luxury Houses in Accra

The middle-income areas of Accra are predominantly populated by Ghanaian citizens and business, administrative and professional families. Much of the housing in these areas has been provided by state, parasternal and private sector organizations and individuals. The middle-income areas include Dansoman Estates, North Kaneshie Estates, Asylum Down, Kanda Estates, Abelempke, Achimota, Adenta, and Tesano. Usually, these areas, unlike the low-income areas, are planned developments but are in need of infrastructure services. Building materials used for building in this area and the general housing conditions are of better quality. The middle-income group comprises 32% of the city’s population of which are made up of Ghanaian citizens. The high-income areas provide housing for the remaining 10% of the population of which Ghanaian citizens, the diplomatic community and the large group of foreigners who are mostly an expert rate. They include areas like North Ridge and West Ridge, Ringway Estates, North Labone Estates, Airport Residential Area, Roman Ridge, East Legon, and Cantonment.

Residential area Accra

These areas are all planned and have a well-developed infrastructure with the spacious and landscaped ground in sharp contrast with, particularly, the low-income areas. Buildings are usually built with sand Crete blocks, and have walls and roofed with aluminum, or asbestos roofing sheets. There are also high-income peripheral areas like Haatso, Kwabenya, Pokuase, Adenta, Taifa, Mallam Atta, where the development of engineering infrastructure is still ongoing. 

Economy

Except for the recently discovered oil in the Western Region of Ghana the largest foreign exchange earner for Ghana is cocoa. And talking about cocoa, it was brought to Ghana by a man called  Tetteh Quarshie in 1879. He planted the few seeds he brought from Fernadopo in his village and after some time they germinate and he gave few seeds to family and friends who also planted.  Soon other farmers followed suit. It was only at this point that the Basel Missionaries stepped into the picture by importing large quantities of the crop into the country. It was from the Gold Coast (Ghana) cocoa beans were sent to Nigeria. The export of cocoa from Ghana began in 1891, and the official export in 1893 (two bags exported). Ghana once provided almost half of world output. Between 1910 and 1980 Ghana was the world’s largest exporter. This position was ceded due to bush fires. However, Ghana’s cocoa is still of the highest quality and the country earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the export of the beans and processed materials.

Tetteh Quarshie died on Christmas Day of 1892. On 25 February 1925, the Gold Coast government was petitioned for a grant for the upkeep of some of Tetteh Quarshie’s relatives. The then Ghanaian Vice-Principal of Achimota College, Dr. J. E. K. Aggrey strenuously took up the appeal. His friend, Sir Gordon Guggisberg set up the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Scholarship at Achimota College. After another petition in 1927, the Government gave a sum of 250 pounds, although Nana Sir Ofori Atta, speaking in the Legislative Council asked for 2,500 pounds, supported by Kojo Thompson. According to the late Ghanaian lawyer and anthropologist, Dr. Isaac Ephson. This took the form of a more enduring memorial, which was set up at Achimota in honour of the pioneer of Ghana’s staple crop and the principal bulwark of the country’s economy. The memorial is Tetteh Quarshie House. And since Independence (1957) the Government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah after petitions from Dr. J. B. Danquah and the Eastern Region House of Chiefs, has built a first-class hospital and fittingly named it after him at Mampong-Akwapim – TETTEH QUARSHIE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL. And there is the biggest roundabout in Africa called Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout which was built by ex-president John Agyekum Kuffour.

Accra is a center for manufacturing, marketing, finance, insurance, and transportation. Its financial sector incorporates a central bank, commercial banks,  development banks  and merchant banks. There are also  discount houses,  mortgage bank, Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), many foreign exchange bureaus, finance houses, insurance companies, insurance brokerage firms, savings and loans companies, and numerous real estate developers, with industrial sites and residential development

Foods  in Accra

There are many kinds of food in Accra. Ghanaians generally  like to eat a lot as they also like to work. Normally you will find people cluster around food joints as early as 6.00 am in the morning, including those going to work in the office and those doing construction works.

When you wake up in the morning, you have to walk to the bus stop or lorry park in order to board a Trotro(commercial vehicle). If you just look around that area, you will definitely find the following food joints; koko & kose, wakye, and kenkey. This joint is usually around bus stops and crowded areas. 

In Nigeria, most people eat bread and foods cooked in their homes in the morning. But here in Ghana, the morning foods are koko & kose, wakye and kenkey. You cannot prepare this food in the house, you have to buy them outside.

The koko & kose sellers are mostly women from the northern part of Ghana, and they are called Ameria. This women wake up early by dawn to prepare the koko, after which they then pour it into an aluminum basin covered with transparent nylon, to keep it hot throughout the time of selling. Koko is made from millet spiced with ginger. Whereas kose is made from beans, this is exactly what is called ‘akara’ in Nigeria.

The Ameria will arrive at the selling point as early as 6.00 am and set the table for selling, while another woman will be frying the kose. Between the hour of 6.00 am and 9.30 am, they will be through with the selling of koko and kose and will then wash the utensils and clean up the surrounding where they have sold the food. They will then go back home to relax and later in the afternoon start the process for the evening sales, which starts around 6.30pm and ends by 9.00 pm. Koko & kose are sold in the morning and evening every day, including Saturdays and Sundays.

The other morning food which both Ghanaians and foreigners like to eat is Wakye. Wakye is a mixture of rice and beans cooked with dry leaves spices and served with black stew, fish or cowleg.

How Ghanaians delight in eating wakye all the time. I even perceive the aroma of wakye as I write. Preparing wakye is not difficult at all. What you need to do is to cook the beans (mostly red beans) and later pour in the rice and add the dry leaves (they are brought from the North and sold in the market). The key ingredient is the leaf that spice up the rice and beans mixture. It makes it smell and taste nice. When the wakye is ready, it is scoop from the cooking pot into aluminum basin and covered with transparent nylon. You do then prepare your black stew which is made from pepper, ginger, tomato, onions, shrimps, and dry fish. Grind them and then fry for a long time, until there is no more water in it. You also fry your fresh fish or cook your cow leg. Then your wakye and black stew are ready for sale.

It is normal to see a long queue at wakye selling points as early as 6.00am. Some people even pack their cars waiting for wakye to be ready. The sale of wakye is between 6.00 am and 10.00am. by this time the massive basin containing wakye will be empty. The wakye sellers are also women from the North and they are called Ameria wakye. They then wash the utensils, clean the environment and go home to relax, and later in the day start the process of cooking wakye for the evening.

Like I said earlier, Ghanaians like to eat out a lot, especially those who work in construction sites and those who sells on the street. There are quite a number of them. They prefer daily earnings, so that they can use part of it to buy food in the morning, afternoon and evening, instead of going to the market to purchase ingredients for cooking. Due to this, we have a lot of hundreds of koko and wakye selling points all over Accra.

Another morning and evening selling food is kenkey. It is very cheap which almost 70% of Ghanaians eat every day. Ghanaians like to eat kenkey. You can even say in  Ghana is kenkey and kenkey is Ghana.

Kenkey is a very nutritious food made from raw corn. It is eaten with raw pepper and fish. To prepare kenkey, you have to soak corn for 2-3 days after which it is taken to the grinding mill. You then separate it into two parts. Cook the first part (this is called aflata), then pour it into the second bowl and wrap  the kenkey balls with corn leaves. It is then put into a cooking pot and cook for at least three hours. You then cut some pepper, tomato and onions (no need to cook it). Then fry your fresh fish. With this you are good to go with your kenkey. If you like you can have alongside it okro soup, sardine or avocado (pearl).

There are two kinds of kenkey; we have the  Ga and fanti kenkey. Ga people are those who live in Accra while Fanti are those who live in the Western region of Ghana.

I have visited many places where kenkey is been prepared; unfortunately these places are not hygienic. There are flies everywhere but because kenkey is cook at a high temperature for a long time, no germ can get into it, so people are saved from diseases.

In the afternoon, the common meal is banku with okro soup. Ghana fufu which can be eaten with different soup( groundnut, palm nut, and light soup) are all delicacies.

Banku is prepared similarly like kenkey, but you have to add cassava dough to the corn dough, make it into a paste in the pot and put on fire and stir until it is properly cooked.

Fufu is made from raw cassava and green plantain cooked together after peeling the back. It is pounded until it is soft. Then you can eat it with your light soup filled with snail, crabs, meat, chicken, etc. this is the food for the Royals. This food made many Ghanaian men and women potbellied because they eat it every afternoon and weekends. It is usually served in a black earthen basin called ‘Ankasa’. It is normal to see 6-8 people eating from an “Ankasa”. In Ghana, no matter how big the cooking pot maybe, they will finish the soup the same day. Ghanaians hardly retain food until the next day. They also eat with both hands.

Another food is green plantain a kotomire. Kotomire is cocoyam leaves. It is cooked with pepper and fish. It is eaten mostly in the afternoons and evenings. You have to cook the cocoyam leaves properly so it doesn’t scratch your tongue.

Aside from the local food joints, there are also intercontinental restaurants like KFC, Mr. Biggs, MacDonalds, Papaye where you can delight yourself in fried rice, jollof rice, salad, etc.

There are also many eateries at the shopping mall. In addition, there are also selected Nigeria restaurants, especially where you see clusters of Nigerians where you can eat pounded yam, yellow gari, semovita with ogbono and edikaekong.

In Osu and East Legon, we also have European, Asian & America having their own restaurants which are open for dinner.

Schools in Accra

There are many schools in Accra. We have the American International School, Ghana International School, British International School. Achimota secondary school, Lincoln Community School, Presbyterian Boys Secondary School, Wesley Grammar School, Aburi Girls Secondary School, and Saint John Grammar School, Then there is the Accra Academy which is known to have produced at least three speakers of parliament since the return of democratic government and all three are lawyers who have worked at the Attorney General Department. They are Daniel Annan, speaker of parliament 1993-2001, Peter Ala Adjetey Speaker of parliament 2001-2005 and Edward Adjaho speaker of parliament  2013-1017. Other schools in Accra include the Accra polytechnic and the famous University of Ghana, Legon. Then there is the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Center (KAIPKTC) which was established by the Ghana Ministry of Defence in 1998. The aim of KAIPKTC is to share Ghana’s five decades of experience in peacekeeping operations with other West African countries and the rest of Africa.

There are also the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, my own school, the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Ghana Technology University, Central University, Ashesi University, Methodist University, Regent University, Radford University, Pentecost University, Regional Maritime University, Zenith University, Islamic University, Ghana Baptist, University, Ghana School of Law and so many other higher institutions in Accra alone. If you are a Nigeria coming to Accra even if you failed your JAMB,  but be ready to pay $5000 (five thousand United States of America dollars) per semester for any of these University. And there are many Nigeria pursuing various degree in these university. Some of them are even doing fashion design courses.

Transportation

The major means of transportation in Accra is through the road.  The railway system in Accra is just like that of Lagos, moribund. But the government is determined to revamp the rail system and you can now see the China Railway company gearing up to begin work on the rail system in Accra.  We need to say here, that the former president of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama did a yeoman job when it comes to infrastructure development and road construction in Accra. It was Mahama that constructed the now famous Kwame Nkrumah interchange the first of its kind in Accra with funding from Brazil Government. He also used a Brazilian Construction Company to get the job done.

There is also the Metro Mass Transit Service popularly called Ayalolo which goes  round the city of Accra and also to other parts of Ghana

Recently, plans have been afoot to develop a more advanced rapid transit bus system for the city and its metropolitan area. This project is aimed at creating an integrated, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transportation system responsive to the needs of society, and supporting growth. 

Trotro And of course, as you can find in other cities of Africa, there is the trotro like danfo buses which have the driver and the mate(conductor) which take people from one place to another.

Trotros are the most common means of transportation in Accra and they are the conversion of imported second-hand buses with built-in chairs into transport buses. Typically, trotros are  decorated with flags and stickers of various countries, soccer teams, and with witty sayings like ‘no food for lazy man’ local proverbs (in English or local languages) or Bible verses printed on the bus’s rear. Trotros stop at any bus stop or gathering a well-organized. Unlike their Nigerian counterpart, they don’t increase transport fees arbitrarily. Even if the cost of petrol is increasing, they have to wait for the correct fee from their union leaders who will print out the fee from one bus top to another and no trotro driver must take more or will take less. There is also a public education where the passenger will be well informed about any transport increase before implementation.

Another means of transportation in Accra are the taxis. Accra has an extensive taxi network and numerous taxi ranks. Taxis in Ghana are painted in two colors, yellow/orange.

On-air transport, it appeared the same fate that befell Nigeria is the same with Ghana. Yes, there is the Kotuku International Airport, but only foreign airlines patronize the airport as Ghana does not have its own airline. The Ghana Airway set up by the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has become extinct, no thanks to the politician who used it as patronage. Like Nigeria is also doing, Ghana is also in the process of resuscitating their own airline.

But the Kotoka International Airport has been properly branded and its loos beautiful than the Muritala Mohammed International. I passed through the place recently and I’m impressed with what is going on. Chinese and other nationals can now have a visa on the visa issue arrival. desk and their services are very quick. There is the news that a new airport is planned for Accra which will be built at pram which is near the sea .The new airport will be constructed by the China Airport construction company. There are also the airport shuttle taxis and in the hotels, you can find car hire services which are quite expensive.

Sports in Accra

The two most important sport in Accra is football and boxing. And Accra has produced great footballers and boxers. The most popular football team in Accra is the Accra Hearts of Oak whose main rival is the Asante Kotoko of Kumasi. The Ghana national team, the black stars also used the Accra Sports Stadium for most of their home marches. You can see most of the Ghanaian celebrated footballers cruising around in their latest flashy cars when they come home to Accra. Footballers like Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari,Asamoah Gyan and others. They have their highbrow houses in the East Legon area of Accra.

Even the Togolese international footballer Emmanuel Adebayo made his home at the Transacco Estates when he comes to Africa. Houses in Transaco are very expensive. You need about $1million to be able to purchase a home at these estates as its estate reserved for the celebrates and rich people.

Another sport that is very popular in Accra is boxing especially in the Jamestown area where you have the Bokom  Banku sport Arena. Of course, Accra has produced boxing legends like professor Azumah Nelson, Joshua Clottey, and Ike Quartey all Gas born in Accra.

There are many hotels in Accra but the most popular is the Accra  Holiday Inn at the airport city. There is also  Oak plaza Hotel, Lavender Hotel, Kaminski and Accra City Hotel.

Sometimes I joined fellow journalists in Accra as we took a tour of Shai Hills. Here is my brief report of what I was on that tour.  Shai Hills is less than an hour’s drive from Accra along the Accra – Akosombo Road. The reserve is the perfect place for a great day out. It is a wildlife reserve where you can come face to face with some of Ghana’s most fascinating and interesting wildlife. 

Shai Hill reserve combines nature’s conservation, rich cultural interest and archeological sites with splendid scenic beauty created by the dry evergreen forest on the hills surrounded by flat savanna plains. Shai Hills offers to visitors a place of relaxation, intensive reading, musing, and utmost enjoyment. The reserve, unlike others, is ring-fenced to prevent animal’s straying out, which helps to make game viewing an exciting and enjoyable opportunity.

History of the reserve

The reserve was the ancestral home of the Dangme Shai between A.D. 1000 and 1892. In July 1892 the British colonial army expelled the Shai people from the area. The Shai people then dispersed throughout the surrounding country. Shai Hill was first proclaimed a forest reserve by the forestry department and later the management was taken over by the Department of game and wildlife in 1962 . The reserve was gazetted as a game Reserve in 1971 with an objective to supply bushmeat on a sustained yield basis from the cropping of animals and at the same time conserve the flora and fauna on behalf of the people.

Archeological interest

Pottery is an exclusive trade and occupation of shai women. Though this industry is declining for lack of patronage, there is still the potential to revive it. A visit to the nearby village will reveal an array of artistic designs of beautiful clay pot made by the women. Relics of traditional pots can be found in old shai settlements on the hills of the reserve. Several archeological sites have been excavated and a large number of pottery artifacts including trade items dating back to AD 1600 like carnelian and glass beads from India have been collected in the reserve. Bone fragments of various wild animals have also been unearthed; indicating that various big games such as buffalo once existed in the area. Some of these findings are placed in a visitor’s center constructed in the reserve.

In addition to the natural beauty and game viewing potential of the reserve, one could enjoy the pleasure of visiting the caves located at the Reserve.

There are three caves in the reserve. Two, which is inhabited by insectivorous bats, is at the west side of the camp.

During my tour I spent time walking through the cool dry evergreen forest on the hills to the caves, and also saw relics of the old shai dwelling places in the reserve.

Animal species

With its mixed coastal savanna and dry forest habitat, shai Hills is home to a good number of mammals, especially antelopes, primates and reptiles. A vast array of resident and migrant avail species from the spectacular blank bellied bustard, groundhornhill, crested easel to the Senegal parrot also occurs. With 89 special recorded in the reserve, keen bird watchers have a lot in store for them.

The most conspicuous large animals are the kob and bushbuck whose numbers are presently low but the game reserve officer said plans are underway to restock the reserve with extra animals as well as other species of antelopes like the hartebeest and roam antelope. The bushbucks are shy and they inside and only  a few lucky visitors will catch a glimpse of them in the reserve.

Visitors who proceed slowly and patiently and spend a little more time will discover a lot in this reserve. The short grass savanna makes game viewing possible all year round. However, game viewing is most enjoyed after grass burning and before the onset of the rainy season that is from late January to May.

The kob has a special significance to the shai as kob hide is used for performing the Dipo puberty rites for girls.  The dipo puberty is initiating girls out of virginity which is an old  tradition of the Shai people. The initiates sit on the hide during the ceremony. Baboons occur in large numbers and can sometimes be seen on trees along the Accra-akosombo road on the reserve boundary.

Vegetation

Shai Hills are covered with undisturbed low dry evergreen forests of the Southeast outlier type. While there around the hills carry short grass savanna with shrubs and evergreen trees which divide basically onto two plain communities. Tallgrass savanna is confined to the steep slopes  and short grassland as Anna interspersed with woody thickets and trees of the low land plains, giving the hills splendid scenic beauty ideal for weekend relaxation outside your home.

To date, 402 species of vascular plants including trees, shrubs grasses, herbs, climbers and epiphytes were identified in the reserve with several rare and endemic species as of July 1992. Most of these palms like parka clappertoniana, calatroplsis procera, and Mitraghna inkberries have high medicinal value and a few such as baobab (Ad Ansonia digitata) used as food.

The forest on the hills is ecologically and floristically unique and of high conservation interest. It is the driest forest in Ghana and it consists of several rare and endemism species and presently threatened by the invasion of the neem tree (azadirachta indica) which was introduced to the reserve by the Forestry Department. The neem tree has spread widely in the reserve and is now a problem for management. The Ghana wildlife department is attempting to control it by repeated cutting and fire management.

I do hope you enjoy reading all the beautiful stories about the beautiful country, Ghana. But when you come to Ghana stay safe, keep your money on you and enjoy all the nicest food like Banku with tilapia, wakye, fufu with light soup and bush meat and ogbonogbono.

Reports  by Oye Arikanki  email: matthewoyebooks@yahoo.com  Tel +233244088259

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