Ghana lives up to the etymology of its name, once more, by taking a leading role in finding a solution to the Ebola outbreak; currently witnessed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. For two days, at the beginning of July 2014, Ghana hosted a special meeting of eleven countries and partners involved in the Ebola outbreak to discuss possible solutions and a response plan. It worked alongside the World Health Organisation, which convened the meeting.
Being faced with this transnational challenge, the countries involved took this opportunity to develop a more co-ordinated and inter-country response strategy, which would bring together expertise and mobilise resources. In the spirit of a south-south cooperation, these countries are successfully working together and sharing experiences with countries that have previously managed to put a hold on the Ebola outbreak.
Choosing Ghana as the hosting country reflects the country’s regional importance. Ghana is a member of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and an associate member of La Francophonie. Kwame Nkrumah, who oversaw Ghana’s independence from Great Britain in 1957 and became Ghana’s first head of state, also acted as an influential advocate of Pan-Africanism and was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity, which was replaced by the African Union in 2002.
Alongside its regional importance, Ghana impressed the world with its great performance in the World Cup, especially when they put, the now World Cup Champion, Germany to a real test.
This energy seen on the football pitch lives up to the word ‘Ghana’, meaning ‘warrior king,’ which was the title given to the kings of the medieval West African Ghana empire. Despite its name, it is geographically and ethnically unrelated to modern Ghana. What did stretch out on the territory of modern Ghana, however, was the empire of Ashanti; which was one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa, prior to colonial rule, boasting a sophisticated economy, a rarity at the time.
Some traditional buildings from the great Ashanti civilization can still be visited today. They are located near Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Empire at the time, and are now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In search of gold, ivory and labour, Europeans started to arrive from the 15th century; which is another part of Ghana’s history that can be witnessed by visiting the Atlantic coast, lined with forts and castles built by Portuguese, Dutch, British and Spanish traders. One of its most impressive examples is the Cape Coast Castle, which was built by the Dutch in the middle of the 17th century. It now serves as an excellent museum, informing visitors about Ghana’s history and local culture.
Besides the imposing remains of Ghana’s past with European powers, the coastline with its palm-lined beaches, stretching 500km between the Ivory Coast and Togo, is an attraction in itself. Travelling east from Cape Coast, the beaches around Kokrobite enjoy great popularity among locals and tourists alike. Towards the West, Busua, one of Ghana’s best beaches is waiting to be explored. It is one of Ghana’s hotspots for water sports, especially surfing. For those looking for a quieter place, Princess Town is a little further to the west, along the coast and off the main tourist routes. This pristine beach is the perfect place for a few relaxing hours in the sun.
A bit further inland, Kakum National Park, a tropical rain forest and home to over 40 species of larger mammals, offers a spectacular insight into the country’s wildlife. Forest elephants, forest buffalos, civets, Mona-meerkats, as well as over 250 species of birds can be observed while strolling along the Canopy Walkway; which is built 30 meters above the ground. With its 350m length, it certainly is one of the highlights of the park.
Ghana’s attraction as a tourist destination is boosted even further by the country’s reputation for being a friendly and welcoming nation, making it the ideal starting point for any first time travellers to Africa.
Where would you start your African adventure?