Ghana was the first African country I’ve visited and so it holds a special place in my heart. After spending a week in Ghana I am fully convinced that all African Americans should visit Ghana. A country so rich in history, a multitude of nice beaches and plenty of Ghanaian hospitality what’s not to love about Ghana? Check out why I think all African Americans should visit Ghana and check out my travel tips that will make your experience just as special as mine.
Why African Americans Should Travel to Ghana
There are so many reasons why anyone of African descent should visit Ghana but here are my top 3:
- To immerse yourself in a predominantly black society with black leaders and celebrated black culture
- To get a glimpse what slavery was like for our ancestors and to get a deeper understanding of the trans-Atlantic slave trade that lead to the diaspora of millions of Africans
- The abode act which is a law that allows African Americans to repatriate Ghana in becoming Ghanaian citizen. No other African country has allowed African Americans citizenship
Awesome Facts about Ghana
Ghana is not a popular tourist site due to the many misconceptions directed to Ghanaians. Most of what we see on TV depicts Ghana as a foreign aide dependent country with high crime rates, bad cuisine, lack of technology, poverty, disease, and corruption. THIS COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! Let’s debunk these myths with a few fun facts about Ghana:
- Ghana has recently become a middle income country with a GDP of 47 billion USD. Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 1, which is the target of halving extreme poverty.
- Ghana has advance school systems and is considerably morenadvanced than many of its African neighbors.
- Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence on March 6, 1957.
- The Ghana is rich in resources such as salt, diamonds, chocolate oil and gold, which is why British merchants later called it the Gold Coast.
Things to see and do in Accra
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum
This mausoleum is dedicated to the predominant leader Kwame Nkrumah and for good reason as he was Ghana’s first black prime minister and president whom lead the way to Ghana’s independence from Britain in 1957. This inspirational statue is a beautiful display of black power and represents what the African community can achieve once united.
Black Star Square and Independence Arch
In short walking distance from the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum is the Black Star Gate monument along with the Independence Arch which was also erected in celebration of Ghana’s Independence from the British. Ghana’s Independence day is celebrated on the 6th of March every year. If present around this time, you can catch the flurry of festivities in celebration of this momentous occasion.
This market is the epicenter of trade and the best place to buy almost anything in Accra. African prints, shoes and delicious street food are easy to find here. But be ready because this place is intense! You’ll meet a slew of vendors solicitation you to come check out their wares. It’s a bit overwhelming but stay strong and don’t forget to haggle. A little haggle tip: Nine times out of ten the price the seller gives is doubled because they know that you’re foreign. Not a problem, they need to make money after all. Just a little tip, cut the price in half and let them talk you up from there. Also, do not be afraid to walk away if you don’t like the price as you’ll most surely find another vendor selling the same wares nearby.
Things to see and do in Kumasi
This metropolis located in the Ashanti region is known for hosting the largest open air market in Ghana. You can find anything here from beads to African prints and fine jewelry. For the sake of transparency I must be honest and admit that I did not make it to Kumasi. I spent far too much money in the Makola Market in Accra and I knew that going to the Kumasi’s market would kill my budget. After all, who can resist beautiful African prints and Ghanaian jewelry?! Certainly Not I! However, the market is not the only reason to visit Kumasi. Its here that the Ashanti Kings lived and still reside today. Feel free to visit the Manhyia Palace Museum or meet the current Ashanti King in person.
Things to see and do in Cape Coast
Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle
I think this is the most important site for all African Americans to visit. Its imperative to understand our painful history. To get a glimpse what slavery was like for our ancestors take a walk back in time and visit these castles. Visiting these sites will leave you feeling such a range of emotions so prepare yourself! Approximately 10 million enslave Africans were transported through these castles. Anger, pain, resentment, sadness, fear. You can still feel the energy of the emotions expressed in the dungeons where thousands of African were kept in the most inhumane conditions. Enjoy the complimentary and informative guided tour included in your ticket price and don’t forget to visit the museum located within. When you exit the castle, take pride in knowing how resilient our ancestors were in their ability to survive and overcome.
Kakum National Park
If you need a break from the bustling city head to Kakum National park and enjoy the nature. But don’t look down!! This park contains a canopy walkway that is about 30 meters above ground. Not to worry, the swaying walkways are in fact very secure. Take your time to decompress and enjoy all of the wildlife nature has to offer.
Tips for Traveling to Ghana
A visa is required for Ghana if you are coming from the U.S. Getting this visa can be a bit worrisome since there is no visa on arrival or online capability. To obtain a Ghana visa, you must mail in your passport, visa application and visa fee ($60 bucks for U.S. citizens) to the Ghana Embassy in Washington, D.C. before being permitted into the country. Wait…Mailing your passport?! Scary right?! But do not let this deter you.
Here’s a tip: Mail your passport and all other required documents and money order payment in a express mail envelope. Make sure to include a second express mail envelope inside. The Embassy will mail your documents and passport back to you expressed. If you go this route, you do not need to pay for express visa application which is significant more. I got my visa back within a week of mailing it. Super quick and easy!
Fly to Ghana
Flights to Ghana can on average run you anywhere from $800-1200 bucks round trip which is not bad considering the long flight. If you thoroughly enjoy saving money like me, try booking a flight from a state with cheaper flights such as New York, California, or North Carolina for example. I myself managed to get a great deal on a one way ticket from Boston to Ghana which set me back $400. Not bad right? But expect a few layovers along the way.
Transportation Tips for Ghana
Yes, Uber is Available!
I can’t tell you how happy I was to find uber available when I got to Ghana. This app definitely takes a lot of the guess work out of getting from point A to B. Use uber as your price guide if you should chose to take a taxi instead. The taxi drivers will know you’re foreign and will mark up the price exponentially. No worries, just negotiate it back down to the reasonable price that you would’ve paid uber and most drivers will agree.
Getting from one major city to the other
If you prefer a comfortable ride, there is a bus company called STC. For about 40 cedi you can get from Accra to Kumasi or Cape Coast but be quick because tickets sell out fast. Try to keep your expectations low; remember that air conditioning in Ghana is a luxury.
Tro Tros/ Minibus
Tro tros will cost about 25 cedi (~$6 dollars) depending upon the destination. Not bad right? You can find the minibus in the Makola Market available at any time.
Here’s a little tip: try to catch the minibus that has the most people as it will take less time to fill up. Also try to sit shotgun if you can. This makes for a more comfortable ride and easy access to the door during breaks.
- Accra: Ghana was my first African country so I was a bit out of sorts. I opted for an Airbnb in Accra. But do not let this deter you if you’re a solo traveler and are wanting to lodge in a hostel. I’ve heard great things about the hostel called Somewhere Nice. I heard that it was actually..well..nice!
- Cape Coast: The Oasis Beach Resort is cheap and relaxing place to stay if you are wanting to lodge near the castles. This resort sits near the beach and you have the option of sleeping in a hut for a fun experience. The restaurant attached has awesome cruises (get the fish) and the bar is stocked with plenty of beer and wine. Expect great service because that’s what you’ll get but be patient with the WiFi connection; it’s a little sketchy which is a common theme in Africa.
Fill your Tummy on Delicious Ghanaian Cuisine
Ghanaian food is some of the best cuisine I’ve had in African although I maybe a bit biased since I discovered my Ghanaian heritage. During your stay you must try the staples: fufu and light goat soup, joffolf rice, banku and tilapia, and boiled Yam and Plantains. I recommend trying everything but…the okra stew. Although flavorful and well seasoned, this dish’s slimy texture threw me way off. Definitely wasn’t my thing but give it a taste and tell me in the comments below what you think.
Prior to leaving the U.S. I received an amazing gift for my 30th birthday. My best friend purchased an ancestry.com DNA kit. I submitted my DNA sample and luckily received the results the day I landed in Ghana!!! My results: Predominantly west African. Specifically, 30% Ghanaian! So you can imagine my excitement to finally see my people. I felt like I was home.
Ghana holds a special place in my heart as this was my first African country I visited. It was the first time I had ever been in a country where everyone looked like…well like me! As a African american who grew up middle class, I had never been completely surrounded by black people before. Walking down the street, I would see some of the deepest black skin, brilliant white smiles, full lips and wide noses. I would see curvy women moving about gracefully flaunting their African print the whole way. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Needless to say, I was in African heaven.
Discovering my Ghanaian heritage made visiting heart-wrenching locations such as Cape Coast Castle very emotional for me. It was there that I really began to fathom the destruction the slave trade brought to our African communities and the devastating effects that still continue to be felt today in America. I could imagine how my ancestors felt walking through the castle’s gate of no return during their last moments on African soil. I felt so grateful to be standing on the shores of Cape Coast. And while standing there I swore I heard the voices of my ancestors rejoicing saying “sister, you are finally home.” HOME INDEED.