Home Is Where the Heart Is: Ghana

I’ve always thought that the idea of going ‘back home’ was such a weird thing, especially when the ‘home’ in question is not where you were born or where you spent your formative years. It’s a bit of a hard concept to grasp when that place, although within you, is completely foreign to you. That is, the place of your heritage. The place your parents or grandparents were raised. The place from which you get your features. The place of generations before you. However, when I went to Ghana in December last year, ‘home’ was very fitting and on the contrary, it wasn’t weird at all.

Ghana, a country in West Africa with a population of about 28 million people, is where both my parents and 3 out of my 4 grandparents were born (plus, where a lot of my family still live today). Although I had been there 3 times in my life (twice below the age of 10, and once when I was 16), I couldn’t confidently say I knew what Ghana was like. Two out of the three times I was too young, and the other time I was only there for family wedding festivities. This time however, was quite different. I was a tourist, a partygoer, a holidaymaker, a traveller/adventurer and a resident. Safe to say I know a bit more about what Ghana is like now, so below are 10 things I would recommend doing/seeing from the 10 days I was out there (in no particular order).

1. Boti Falls and Umbrella Rock
These were hidden gems in the Eastern region that we found out about via a random conversation with our Uber driver. Boti Falls was so peaceful, relaxing and picturesque, taking c. 250 steps to reach. Umbrella Rock was a short drive or 40-minute hike away from the waterfall and provided the opportunity to sit with your legs dangling off the edge of a steep drop, taking in the views.

2. Kakum National Park
This is a typical day trip for most visitors to Ghana. The park is situated by the coast in the Southern Region and although it is home to a variety of birds and animals, the main attraction is the Canopy Walkway. This consists of 7/8 bridges suspended around 120 feet above ground, providing a panoramic view of the forest. It’s not as scary as people say!

3. Elmina Castle
This is a must visit for anyone who wants to have a more of an insight into some of Ghana’s history. The castle, located in Elmina (by the coast) was one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Tours are available and it is to be noted that some people find it very eerie and emotional as the guides try their best to transport you back to that time and place. If you plan on visiting, I’d suggest you read
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi before going there, it really brings everything to life in the most heart-breaking way.

4. Afrochella
The first of many to come (I hope), Afrochella is an outdoor cultural celebration of everything African, from food, art and graffiti, to music and business. It is a play on AfroPunk and Coachella and was something I’m pretty sure Ghana had never seen before. The event went amazingly well (aside from one of the performers being stuck in the infamous Ghana traffic) so I would definitely recommend it if/when they put it on again!

5. Mr. Eazi concert
Now, not that I’m a huge Mr. Eazi fan or anything, but I really enjoyed his concert and it was mostly due to the fact that it was basically an outdoor party! If I’m honest, I’m pretty sure anyone’s concert (if big enough) would be just as fun so I would advise that if you can, make sure you check to see if an artist you like is performing whilst you’re in town.

6. Partying
I think this one doesn’t need an explanation. Ghana has so many clubs and all of them are LIT. That’s all I can really say. Get yourself down toTwist, Carbon and all the others I’ve forgotten the names of because you will not be disappointed.

7. Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park
The park includes a small museum of Kwame Nkrumah’s life and the Mausoleum where he and his wife are buried. This was a nice little history lesson on the independence of Ghana and who Kwame Nkrumah was, plus his importance to Ghana today.

8. Jamestown
This is one of the poorer neighbourhoods in the capital of Accra. I spent most of my time by the colourful and vibrant fishing harbour where hyperactive children, bread and butter sellers, fried fish vendors and fisherman were in abundance. It has a real buzz and is a great place to visit. Also, if you want a really good view of the city you can climb to the top of the lighthouse.

9. Labadi Beach
Of course you can’t come to Ghana and not find yourself on a beach! This beach in particular is literally littered with people trying to sell you something, offering you a horse ride, trying to sell you their art etc., but if you manage to find a quiet spot, you’ll be OK. Something to bear in mind though as I was unaware… people don’t really wear bikinis or swimsuits to the beach so bring your cover up if you care about feeling out of place.

10. Visiting family
Last but certainly not least… family! There’s no trip home without family and there’s nothing like reconnecting with cousins and relatives you haven’t seen in a very long time. If you do have family here, you must, must visit them! If not, you’ll undoubtedly make some amazing friends that you’ll look forward to seeing the next time you visit.

There’s so much to see and do and I haven’t even scratched the surface. From visiting Kumasi to travelling up to the North region, I have a lot more to explore during my next visit. I would honestly recommend a trip to Ghana whether you’re of Ghanaian heritage or not. The people are friendly, the weather is warm and the culture is rich.