Hey Barbs, I’m thinking about going to Africa. Where do you think I should go? Oh, I think you’re…GHANA…like my answer… …Tanzania. Nah you wouldn’t last three days in there. Go to Ghana. [Opening music] ♫ It’s time to learn geography ♫ ♫ NOW! ♫ Hey everybody, I’m your host Barby. Ghana is kind of like “Africa for beginners”. People usually come here to test out their “Sub-Saharan excursion skills” before taking off their training wheels and venturing deep into the interior savannas and jungles. So if that’s you, your first assignment is to report to Accra and Kumasi at 0700 hours. MOVE OUT SOLIDER! [Jingle] Fun side note: The word Ghana means “Warrior king”, hearkening back to the Ghana Empire in the 4th Century A.D…. …which actually wasn’t even located in Ghana. Anyway, Ghana is a country about the size of Romania located in West Africa along the Guinea Gulf bordered by the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo. Ghana is also one of the only eight countries that passes through the Prime Meridian as well as Antarctica in the south. The country is made up of 10 regions with some interesting sounding capitals like Wa, Ho and Tamale and of course the capital Accra (pronounced: Ah-Cra) located in the south-east along the coast. The two largest airports are of course the capital, Accra Kotoka International, and the second largest one, Kumasi International, located further inland. NOAH: Hey Barbs. BARBY: Yeah, what’s up? NOAH: The colonial regions are cool and all, but tell then about the tribal and ethnic regions. BARBY: You know what Noah, I think I’ll give you this one because you’re the guy with the better voice. NOAH: Don’t mind of I do. The north is primarily inhabited by the Mole-Dagbani peoples. The north-central area has the Guan group. The south-east, including the capital Accra is dominated by the Ewe and Ga-Adangme people. Then you get this huge chunk of the west, center and south areas where you can find the famous Akan and Ashanti peoples. Sometimes, this area is collectively referred to as Ashantiland. BARBY: Wow Noah that was… BARBY: …a little too good. I don’t want the audience liking you more than me. Get out! Now, Ghana is a constitutional republic, but nonetheless still kind of technically has a king, or disputably “regional kings” that act more like cultural figureheads rather than governmentally sanctioned legislators. However, these kings still do hold high positions of influence in society. Nonetheless, the most notable and powerful of all these kings would probably be the monarch who rules over Ashantiland. He lives in the Manhyia Palace in the Ashanti capital, Kumasi. Otherwise, other notable landmarks in Ghana might include: the oldest European building in Sub-Saharan Africa built in 1482. each one has a dark history of being used for importing slaves. with the bronze statue of Dr. Kwame Nkruman (not to be confused with the vandalised statue of him during the coup d’état years) the world’s largest digital waste dump where criminals try to hack into confidential governmental computers. Oh and the Kejetia market, the largest in Africa located in Kumasi in Ashantiland. And Ghana even has its own space center. And those are just the man-made landmarks, let’s see what mother nature brings to the table. [Jingle] Now when it comes to the land, Ghana kind of like accidently broke a world record. I’m talking about Lake Volta. The world’s largest man-made lake fed by the Black, White and Red Volta rivers. Remember the Burkina Faso episode? If you look at the map, this massive 400km long body of water that scars the south-east side of Ghana, taking up about 4% of the land is actually a reservoir by-product created after the construction of one little guy: Granted, thousands of people and animals were displaced in the process of the flooding of the basin, BUT… …this one little dam produces much of the electricity for the entire country with leftover to export to neighbouring countries for external revenue. It was kind of like: NOAH: So your home will be underwater for a couple of months. GET OUT! BARBY: WHA– BARBY: Eh, I guess it was worth it. Now the country is divided into four geographic terrestrial plains: Basically, the south is wetter and the north is drier. Sometimes even subject to those “Harmattan” winds. Remember the Burkina Faso episode? With a more sparsely populated area, the north is home to open savannas and the largest nature reserve, Mole National Park… …where you can see animals like Elephants, Hippos, Baboons, Crocodiles and the national animal the Golden Eagle. Man. Mole, Tamale, all these Spanish words. I’m surprised the Spanish had nothing to do with Ghana. NOAH: Or did they? BARBY: No, they actually, literally, didn’t. Like almost every European country (even Sweden) got in on it. NOAH: You know, I think they’re actually pretty okay. They have their whole side-investment going on anyway. Right? Ghana is also the second largest cocoa producer, after the Ivory Coast. Cadbury, the company that makes those diabetically amazing easter eggs actually imports 90% of their cocoa from Ghana. And is actually second in Africa in gold production, after South Africa. Gold plays a HUGE role in Ghana. In fact, the British touted the area as the “Gold Coast” during colonial times due to the high amount of gold reserves found throughout the country… …espically in Ashantiland. This is why you shouldn’t be surprised to find more golden material in Kumasi and the surrounding areas. Of course, agriculture wise, typical African cash crops and staples like cassava, yams, cotton, rubber, sugar and palm oil are produced along with kenaf… …the “jack of all trades” crop. You can the fibers in rope, twine, crude cloth, paper, bags. You can even feed it to your animals and use it as their bedding. It’s kind of like jute. Remember the Bangladesh episode? (Man, today is just like a reference overload) Of course the staple dish, made out of cassava and plantain flour is called Fufu. A starchy substance typically eaten with stews and meats. Just a little side note: Fufu, which goes by many other different names in Africa like is kind of like the staple for many Sub-Saharan African countries. It’s like what rice is to Asians and bread is to Europeans. Famous national dishes include things like: and be careful when mentioning Jollof rice. (Make sure there are no Nigerians around) NIGERIA: We invented it! Ours is better! The interesting thing though is that, although historically, Ghana was dominated an agrarian and mineral extraction based economy,… …they really branched out and diversified their business portfolio. In 2011, they gained the title of the world’s “fastest growing economy.” Now Ghana focuses on things like the manufacturing industry, electronics, technology, and recently after an oil reserve was discovered in 2007… …the hydrocarbon export sector as well, which supplies over $1.5 billion extra in state revenue. This is partially why Ghana was one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of Africa, at around only 6-8% annually. They’re even slated to join the list of automobile manufacturing countries as well as they just launched their own domestic brand, Otherwise, other amazing natural zones would include places like: where you can sit on lazy crocodiles that just don’t care. and when in doubt, just take a little cruise on Lake Volta. Maybe go fishing in it for a little bit. And it’s probably best to have a local show you these areas because you know, locals are the best, aren’t they? Here’s some more on them. [Jingle] Now, Ghana is not only like Africa’s “training wheels” but also like Africa’s first main Sub-Saharan contact to Europe. And yes, the Saharan and Sahel west coast areas like Senegal and the Gambia had already been discovered… …but essentially, it wasn’t until the Portuguese explorer Fernão Gomes came in the 15th century established the Elmina settlement. Regarded as the first European settlement in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana has always been kind of seen as like a beacon of democracy in Africa in which this guy handed over power to John Kufour, making it the first peaceful democratic transition since independence in 1957, which also made then the first… …colonial Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from a European power. I mean, technically, Liberia gained independence in the 1840s, but it was a confusing U.S. aided resettlement program and not so much a colony but… …eh, make of it what you will. First of all, Ghana has about 27 million people and usually scores in the top most democratic, transparent, staple and safe nations in all of Africa. The country is made up of over 70 different tribes and over 200 different dialects however most of them fall under five main ethnic groups. The majority belonging to the Ashanti or Akan, making up about half of the population, the Dagbani and Mole at around 17%, Ewe at around 14% and the remaining groups belonging to other peoples like the Ga-Adangbe, Gurma, Guan and Bissa. While the remaining 2ish% are made up of Non-Africans and Whites. Also they use the Type G and D plug outlets, they drive on the right side of the road and they use the Cedi (which is their currency) which also translates to… …cowry shells since those were used as currency at one point in time. Ghana is also very religious, the majority of the population, about three quarters, is Christian (mostly Protestant and Pentecostal). About 15% are Muslim and the rest adhere to traditional beliefs and faiths. Now each of the main people groups has a very distinct culture that contrasts with the others along with mutually unintelligible languages. Nonetheless, English is still used for cross-communication by the majority of the population as it was a former British colony. The most widely spoken native language though would have to be Twi, or various dialects of Twi. Spoken by the Akan and Ashanti people. Some will say that it’s also mutually intelligible with Fante and Bron and it’s kinda just like a dialect thing. Like English from America and English from Scotland. SCOTTISH ACCENT: You know, there’s a lot of different types of Scottish– –No. I’m not even gonna try. I’m not even gonna finish. Ga is spoken in the south-east and is said to have originated from Nigeria,… …whereas Ewe is a language more prevalent and indigenous to Togo,… …and Dagbani and Mole is spoken in the north and are more closely related to the Mossi language. Remember the Burkina Faso epi– BURKINA FASO: Okay, we get it! Just click on the annotation and re-watch the Burkina Faso episode. BARBY: Hey, it was a good episode okay? I had a fun making it. I mean, African cowboys. Come on. Ghanaian culture though is a lot more than just Ashanti. Ewe peoples in the east for example are known for being amazing cross-rhythm drummers and performers of dances and also the originators of voodoo. The north Dagomba ares have a more Islam influence culture and they had their own king, Yakubu II, who as killed in 2002 and since then… …the line of succession has been kind of disputed and is yet to be installed. I mean, he did kind of line like over 30 wives and like over 100 children. The Ga-Adangbe peoples are actually found mostly in the capital, Accra, as well as other areas in the south-east. Both men and women are known for being really good boxers. They are also known for making the famous Ghanaian fantasy coffins. A tradition that started in the 1950s in which skilled carpenters will custom make a coffin that are designed to capture the essence of the deceased persons identity. Then of course we reach the Ashanti. Now, there is too much about these people to summarise in a few sentences, but in the simplest way I can put it… …the Ashanti have always played probably the most culturally dominating role in the history and development of Ghana. Supposedly, they believe they are descended from the ancient Abyssinians that were pushed south from the Egyptians and played a huge role in the Atlantic slave trade… …as well as the furious rebellions against the British (I mean they did kind of have to fight like four wars over course of 70 years to finally give in), today known for their gold rich people, beautiful Kente cloth with elaborately designed patterns and of course, the royal family. Otherwise, a few customs Ghanaians from all people groups follow include thngs like: Never using your left hand to offer a gift, point or shake someones hand as the left hand is considered to be the dirty hand. Many children are named after the day of the week they were born on, per gender. For example: A boy born on Saturday might have the title Kwame, and a girl on a Saturday might have Ama. On Sundays, expect to find lots of people dressed in their best clothes as it’s Church day. To get someones attention you’ll probably hear a sharp hissing “ssss” sound. And for some reason, people don’t seem to use umbrellas much in the rain. It’s not a taboo, it’s just kind of the way things are. By the way, if you guys are wondering, Noah is not actually Ghanaian. I just wanted to give him more lines in this episode because you know, that voice. Otherwise some notable Ghanaian people include: Kwame Nkrumah, The first President that led Ghana to independence. Yaa Asantewaa, The hero queen mother of Ghana who led a rebellion against the British forces in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kofi Annan, The former U.N. Secretary General. Numerous soccer players. British actor, Idris Elba, Whose mother was Ghanaian. Which is GOOD ENOUGH. He had Ghanaian blood, Ghana gets the credit. Well now Ghana may be pretty stable and prosperous, but of course they couldn’t have done it alone. Who does Ghana like to hang with? [Jingle] Ghana has some of the oldest recorded history in Sub-Saharan Africa, with roots that extend beyond the continent. First of all, like other regionally distinct nations, Ghana’s people groups have historically had alliances with other neighbours for centuries. The Ewe have strong ties to Togo, the Dagomba’s in the north love Burkina Faso and the Ashanti were always in touch with the similar language speaking peoples of eastern Ivory Coast. Just like many other post colonial states, Ghana still maintain close ties to the U.K. and almost immediately after independence, set up agreements and policies that encourage mutual relations. The U.K. also has the largest community of Ghanaians in the world, followed by New York in the U.S.A., who also has close ties to Ghana as the East Coast is saturated with Ghanaian communities, When it comes to their best friends though, most Ghanaians I’ve talk to have said it would probably by Nigeria. Although they have a heated rivalry in almost EVERYTHING (be it music, soccer or, you know… …this stuff) they still share a deep bond that historically tied them for centuries, especially during colonial times when they shared a mutual struggle. Sierra Leone though is kind of like the cute but dramatic girlfriend that they’ve been with forever who keeps getting into trouble with the World Health Organisation. In conclus– You know what? Noah, we need that voice again, just, I’ll let you take the conclusion. NOAH: Sure thing. In conclusion, Ghana is like one of the few Sub-Saharan African countries that transitioned beautifully out of its dark ages, maintain its regional cultures and stabilise its economy always keeping attention of royal African charm. Stay tuned, Greece is– BARBY: GREECE IS COMING UP! GREECE IS COMING UP. It’s still my show. Love me, LOVE ME!!