Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Friend of a Friend's Take on Ghana

I spoke to a friend's Ghanaian friend about my upcoming trip to Ghana. Here's what she told me:

  • You will not blend in. People will realize you are a tourist and attempt to charge you more for things for that reason. It's not malicious, people just tend to assume you can afford it.

  • If you need public transportation, use the STC (as opposed to a tro-tro, I presume).

  • Taxis are shared unless you tell the driver you want to go straight to your destination without him picking up anyone else. Ask for a recommendation at your hotel, get the person's number, and use the same person throughout your trip. More on Ghana transportation here.

  • The dress for women is more conservative than in the states. You will get stared at if you wear a mini skirt, though people do wear them at times. Longer skirts will get less attention. Ghanaians may wear jeans or Western clothes at some times and more traditional clothing at other times. Sandals are fine.
  • It's above 80 degrees all the time, and very humid.

  • Men will tell you they're in love with you every minute. Don't be afraid to tell them to get the heck away from you, otherwise they will think you like it. They're harmless.

  • Eat all of your food cooked and hot. Eat fruits you can peel yourself. Drink bottled water. Be weary of street food vendors. This will all help you avoid getting traveler's diarrhea.

  • Take anti-malaria tablets, and carry anti-diarrheal tablets just in case.

  • Ghana has a very diverse population, so may be more tolerant than other African countries. People are very friendly and hospitable. It's a good introduction to the continent for first-time travelers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ghana Hiplife Music

Kwame Nkrumah by Obrafour

"Highlife is a musical genre that originated in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the 1920s and spread to other West African countries." - Wikipedia

"Hiplife music is an innovative Ghanaian fusion of Highlife and Hip hop." - Wikipedia

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ghana Money & The Price of An Orange

So, the Ghanaian cedi was redenominated on July 1, 2007 so that what was once ¢ 10,000 is now 1 Ghana Cedis (GH¢). This is supposed to make the money a bit easier to manage and more easily correlate to the currency of other countries.

If you're used to the old system, for me the easiest way to remember the conversion is to move the decimal point 4 spaces to the left. So 50,000 is now 5; 500,000 is now 50, etc. Amounts less than GH¢ 1 are denoted Gp. More info can be found here.

At the time of this writing, GH¢ 1 is equal to $1.10 USD. (Currency Converter)

To get an idea of the buying power of a cedi, I asked a Ghanaian contact for the approximate costs of some common items:

1) a bottle of soda = Gp 30 (GH¢ .30, or ¢ 3,000)

2) a sachet of water = Gp 65 - Gp 75

3) an orange from a street vendor = Gp 5

4) a coconut from a street vendor = Gp 30

5) a cup of coffee in a coffee shop = GH¢ 2.50

6) a newspaper = Gp 50

7) a pizza = GH¢ 3.00 - GH¢ 15.00

Though some things in Ghana are very affordable from an American perspective, other things (especially those things directed at tourists) are not particularly cheap. Spending over $100 USD per night for a room is common for a 3 or 4 star hotel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Obaahema - Celebrating the Ghanaian Woman

Ok, so this isn't a travel related site exactly, but it will give you some insight into modern day Ghana.

clipped from

Obaahema's mission is to celebrate the achievements of enterprising women in Ghana to inspire others to emulate their success and reach their fullest potential.

blog it

New Ghana Travel Guide Coming Sept 1, 2007

Bradt is releasing the 4th edition of their Ghana travel guide on the first of September. It is available for pre-order from Amazon, right now listed at $17.81.

I find the 3rd edition indispensable. says the Bradt guide has been the #1 selling guide to Ghana since '98, and I believe it. I'm surprised Lonely Planet hasn't bothered with Ghana yet - I've actually been hard pressed to find another Ghana travel guide at all. The Bradt guide has thousands of details you will never find online, and I can't wait to get the new one. If you're going to Ghana it's worth the space it takes up in your carry on.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Video: Kente Weaving in Ghana

Just when I was dreaming about fabrics in Ghana, a friend emails me this.

From the video creator:

Last night, I put together a short video about traditional kente weaving in Ghana's Ashanti region. Kente, perhaps the most famous West African textile, is brightly colored, coming in a variety of patterns, some reserved for use by Ashanti royalty. The video was shot in the historic kente weaving village of Bonwire, about an hour south of Kumasi.
You must check out this post and watch the vid.

Buying Fabric in Ghana

A friend on tells me "Makola Market has the best selection of fabrics in Accra."

Ntonso, an Ashanti village north of Kumasi is known for Adinkra cloth, and Bonwire in the same vicinity is known for Kente cloth.

When my mom visited Ghana she had several outfits made inexpensively by local seamstresses.

You can also dye your own fabric to take home in a batiking workshop in Cape Coast.