off to the continent of my dreams

It crowds my thoughts; it accompanies my dreams; it wrenches my heart; I am so close to arriving on its glorious soil: Africa. In less than three days I am going to travel back to the continent that stole my heart. Six years ago I was captivated and moved by my travels in Uganda and now I will be headed to Ghana to continue my journey. This summer I am going as part of an official study abroad through my university, Michigan State University’s study abroad program in Ghana: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. And so this blog’s title is about to become a bit oxymoronic, however regardless of title this blog will cover my experiences in Africa this summer and will continue to chroncile my work in and for Africa.

From the MSU Ghana Program Handbook:

Introduction to Ghana
The Republic of Ghana, the first country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957, is roughly the size of the state of Oregon and lies about four degrees north of the equator in West Africa. Formerly the Gold Coast, Ghana bordered by Togo to the east, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The country is divided into ten administrative regions, each with a capital city, and the capital of the country is Accra, a port city. English is the official language, and at least seventy-five African languages and dialects are spoken, generally divided into Akan, Mole-Dagbani, Ewe and Ga language groups. Twi is the main Akan language, it is the first language to approximately half of the population, including both the Ashanti and Fante, and is widely spoken in the central and southern parts of the country.

The current population of Ghana is approximately 20.7 million, 63% of Ghanaians are Christians, 16% are Muslim, and 21% practice indigenous beliefs. Christianity dominates the south and Islam is the predominant faith in the northern part of the country. Most Ghanaians maintain some traditional beliefs and customs no matter what their professed religion.

Politically Ghana is a constitutional democracy – John Kufuor is the current president, elected January 7, 2001. The currency is the cedi, $1 = 9,445 cedis.

Climate
Ghana’s climate is tropical. In the south it’s usually hot and humid (average daily temperature is 86 degrees F). There are two rainy seasons, from April to July and from September to November. The heaviest rains usually fall in May and June. The Harmattan, a dry desert wind, blows from the northeast from December to March, lowering the humidity and creating hot days and cool nights in the north. In the south the effect of the Harmattan is felt in January. In most areas the highest temperatures occur in March, the lowest in August.

University of Ghana
You will be spending much of your time on the University of Ghana at Legon campus, about 14 km outside of Accra. The University of Ghana began in 1948 as an affiliate college of the University of London. In 1961, however, the University of Ghana was, by an Act of Parliment, reorganizaed as the University of Ghana to award its own degrees. The University has over 20,000 students, including many international students. The campus is large with many buildings, dorms, cafeterias, a botanical garden, bookshop and library.

Field Trips
Elmina Castle in Cape Coast
Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti Region, home of the Ashanti, the richest and most powerful people in Ghana, with the largest open-air market in West Africa
– Bonwire to observe the kente cloth weavers
Volta Lake, the world’s largest artificial lake created by the Akpspmbo Dam in 1964
Kakum National Park

Be prepared to read of some great adventures and be sure to check back often for updates! I would say Africa awaits, but Africa does not wait for me, I am waiting for Africa.

Index of blog post series on Ghana.

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2 Comments

  1. ALEX- I’m so excited to read of your travels here. You’re blog has grown so much over the last year, but not as much as you have grown since you last visited Africa. I want to hear about your awesome adventures and your explorations- just make sure none of them involve police.Can’t wait to hang out tomorrow, but make sure to enjoy the time with your family before you go.See you soon,Nick

  2. hey there kiddo, sorry to reply to your posts so late! i’m reading them all, one by one now, so forgive the deluge of comments…Your trip sounds fantastic, but the perspective you’re bringing is what will make it more amazing than any MSU intern could write. Your views aren’t as simple as #1, though your intention is as pure–you’re also someone who can (and wants to) tell the rest of the world what is out there in Africa while holding a critical eye as needed.

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