Well we’ve arrived in Accra and are now safely lodged in a rather smart bijou hotel somewhere in the city. We have met our guide, Nathan and his colleague Linda abd the driver of our mini-coach, Dominic. As the humidity is over 80% and the temperature is 28C we were glad to note it is air conditioned.
The flight from City Airport was fine as was the flight from Amsterdam to Accra. The only thing of note were the toilets in Schipol Airport. Mock Tudor? A hint of gothic? No, unfortunately not, but in both the ladies and the gents, vast rooms with few cubicles and stalls. Great for a tea dance or a conference of widget makers, but remarkably unsuitable for the hordes of visitors desperate for a pee. In both the gents I visited I had to queue, something women I know are used to but we men rarely do. There were acres of spare wall and floor which could be ‘installed’ so to speak, but were left vacant, so that we all had plenty of queuing room. Clearly the Dutch have the bladders of oxes, and think we all should have them as well.
We are 13 in the group and seem generally to be what Ayckbourn calls PLU, except possibly a single gentleman, of uncertain provenance, who seems always to be the last to do anything. Perhaps he is tired and will put on a spurt in the morning. Let us hope so; we are to be breakfasted and ready to leave by nine. There are Palm oil producers and coffin makers to visit before the day is out!
Just thought a bit of background to Ghana might be useful:
Population of 23.8 million (UK 61.6 million)
Area: 23,533 sq km (UK 242900 sq km)
UN Human Development Index ranking 135 out of 187 (UK 28)
Capital city is Accra with a pop. of 2.3 million (London has 8.6 million)
Official language is English but there are 75 spoken languages and numerous ethnic groups.
Ghana was formerly known as ‘The Gold Coast’ and was the first in Africa to gain independence from a colonial power (the British!). In the middle ages the Ashanti kingdom was producing the most beautiful golden objects which it traded across the rest of Africa and elsewhere. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade with the Ghanian kingdoms. Other European powers quickly followed to trade in gold, but also in slaves. The British claimed Ghana in 1874 but wars continued into the early 1900s. Independence was declared in 1957.
Ghana became heavily in debt due to the Volta Dam project (the Akosombo dam) which was due to give the country electricity as well as supplying the massive American aluminium smelter electricity. In reality most of the electricity went to the smelter which had priority and little went into the Ghanaian grid. Much of the debt was written off under the Jubilee 2000 debt relief programme. Since then Ghana has found oil and developed the Jubilee Oil Field. It borrowed against future oil prospects to build new infrastructure. Unfortunately as the price of oil has fallen on world markets, Ghana finds itself once again in debt.
Ghana is a stable democracy. It ranks well in terms of corruption, coming in at number 5 of the least corrupt states in Africa.
It is keen to develop its tourist industry as it has beautiful beaches and lush rainforest. It’s the second largest producer of cocoa world wide.
Now on with some packing!
On Saturday 29th October we will be heading off on a Traidcraft Fairtrade holiday to Ghana. We fly into Accra, the capital and then to Asuom to visit Serendipalm who produce palm oil for Traidcraft’s cleaning products. From there we go to Kumasi, the second city tovisit Kuapa Kokoo that part owns Divine chocolate. We spend several days in Kumasi before moving on to Elmina on the coast. Then it is back to Accra and finally to Akosombo for a river cruise and a Fairtrade banana farm before travelling home. If you would like to follow our travels then please do.