Throughout last week, I was on a group study tour in Kumasi, Tamale, Damongo, Dalun, and Mole National Park. It was great being reunited with my fellow AFS students – despite the gradual awkwardness which arose from being a bus-full of ‘Obrunis’ in the land of ‘Obibinis.’ Even though I spent much of my time filming and editing a music video for my brother’s wedding, I had a wonderful time discovering more of Ghana.
The following bullets include my highlights of the study tour:
•Larabanga Mosque: Built in 1421, this is Ghana’s oldest mosque and possible the oldest building still standing in Ghana. Seeing the outside of such a piece of history was amazing, but, even though I understand the rationale, not being able to see the inside since I’m not a Muslim was a bit of a let-down…
According to locals, the mosque’s founder was passing through the area and decided to throw his spear into the air and sleep wherever it hit the ground. As he was sleeping he had a ‘vision’, and found the foundation of the mosque in-place the following morning. While it was being built, it ‘increased in height’ each night; the founders claimed that Allah helped to build it.
As you can see from the above photo, the objects on the outside of the mosque are actually tree branches helping maintain the structure of the mosque. Despite the branches, part of the mosque is washed away every year in the rains and it must be reconstructed and repainted. The branches are replaced every year and a half.
•Weaving Cloth: I’ve seen many Ghanaians weaving scarves with these contraptions on the side of the road, but this was my first attempt at trying to use one. Although the instructions very complicated, by the end of my five minutes I was starting to develop a rhythm and no longer sought constant help from the experts… although compared to the Ghanaians, I was moving in slow motion.
Basically, the weaver holds a loom in their hand, and a ‘pedal’ between their toes on each foot- as seen in the previous photo. As you bring the loom through the two white ‘thread groups’ in the photos, you press down with the foot opposite of the direction you moved the loom. Then you take the ‘wooden racket thing’ in front of the loom and ‘hit’ the thread into place. These instructions likely made no sense, but it was a good time nonetheless.
•Mole National Park: At over 4800 square kilometers, this is by far Ghana’s largest national park. There are over 600 elephants in the park at last count, and although our groups didn’t see any, all that we did see was breathtaking.
Although we didn’t see any elephants due to it being the last leg of the rainy season, we saw several trees uprooted by them (they enjoy eatting the roots), and several of their footprints.
We also saw a host of Disney characters…
One interesting yet sad fact about the park is that “at least once every month” they catch a poacher within the park limits. If this statistic is true, it’s a bit boggling to think of how many poachers they don’t catch.
Overall – Mole National Park was amazing; so amazing that I’m thinking it may be worth the 7 hour drive to come back during the dry season to see elephants.
•Kintampo Falls: This was by far the most beautiful and amazing 30 minutes of my trip (and probably entire life).
It was essentially a massive swimming pool… if your swimming pool has millions of gallons of water splashing around you every minute. Standing in the water beside the falls made me awestruck; going into the falls made me giddy. There’s no other word for it – as I stood directly underneath the falls, despite the water crashing into my body and the overwhelming sensation that I was drowning, I couldn’t help but be giddy.
After climbing through the falls, erosion from the water helps makes a smooth ‘water slide’ that lands you in a nice pool of water. In between slides, we relaxed behind the falls, watching the water was crash down in front of us and gaping in amazement. I could’ve sat there for hours.
To view other photos I took during the trip, check out the following Picasa photo albums: