It was in December 2005 that I embarked on a memorable 6-week adventure to West Africa which took me to four different countries – Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Mali. I distinctly remember landing at the airport in Accra, Ghana sometime after midnight - stepping out into the arrival area, I was greeted by a rousing reception of Ghanaians who were stationed behind the chain linked fence, then whisked off to my hotel by my friend. It was the start of a very momentous journey!
Although I had experienced African culture in the Diaspora while traveling extensively in the Caribbean, nothing in my past experience really prepared me for this trip. My eyes (and my mind) were wide open as I traveled to metropolitan cities and out into the African bush (countryside) passing thru colorful marketplaces, artisan villages and dirt poor rural villages. On this journey, I learned a lot more about the history and diversity of cultures in West Africa than I had in my studies at the University. Traveling is definitely the highest form of education - you learn so much about yourself, the world and about different cultures and peoples.
I spent most of my time in GHANA – I stayed in the family home of a friend who lived in Mamprobi, a humble neighborhood located on the outskirts of Accra. While in Ghana, I visited a number of different places - including the Slave forts of the Gold Coast, the tourist mecca of Kumasi (the heart of the Ashanti) and the Upper Volta dam. The rainforest canopy tour at Kakum was very exciting and was the first time that I had taken a tour like this. Of the four countries that I visited, Ghana by far was the friendliest and most westernized and Mali was the most exotic and intriguing. My only regret was lacking sufficient funds (and time) to make it to the legendary Timbuktu in Mali.
I have so many wonderful memories from this trip - of the people that I met and of the many exotic places that I visited - as well as some really astounding stories to share, that it would be some really juicy material for a best selling novel. In this novel, there would be elements of culture shock, political intrigue, extortion, adventure, romance and heartbreak. Stayed tuned….
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