In a previous blog, we paid a virtual visit (the best we can do right now!) to the spectacular landscapes of Kenya, as we explored its rich diversity and the bustling urban centre of Nakuru.
Next up in our ‘Five Things to Expect’ blog series is the vibrant West African nation of Ghana…
Drumming and dancing are central to the way of life
When you arrive at your partner school, it’s likely that you’ll be greeted with an energetic display of dancing and drumming, courtesy of the children at the school. In fact, the sound of a beating drum is never far away in Ghana, so be prepared to get stuck in and show off your best dance moves!
Traditionally, drumming was used as a form of communication, with oral histories passed down the generations to the rhythmic beat of the drum. Drum rhythms were customarily used to communicate different messages on a variety of occasions, such as on the eve of war, as a way to honour ancestors, or as part of the initiation into adulthood.
Whilst volunteering in Ghana, you’ll have the chance to take part in a drumming workshop in your downtime, giving you the opportunity to learn about the cultural importance of this ancient form of music.
Linguistically, it’s very diverse
Impressively, there are over 250 languages and dialects spoken in Ghana, which have derived from a diversity of tribal and ethnic groups. In the Volta Region, where our partner projects are based, the local language is Ewe. Some of the phrases you may wish to learn for visiting Ghana include: “E foa?” (Eh-fwah), which means “How are you?”, “Akpe” (Ak-ay), meaning “thanks”, and “Woe zo” (Way-zoh), which means “welcome”.
Today, most Ghanaians overcome any regional linguistic barriers by speaking English, which is the country’s official language and is a remnant from Ghana’s colonial era. The classes at your partner school are taught in English, although students will speak Ewe at home.
Some of the other most widely spoken languages include Akan, Twi, and Dagbani.
VIbrant, colourful patterns are always in fashion!
Ghanaian clothing is typically conservative, but lots of bright colours and patterns are worn. During your trip, there will be plenty of opportunities to buy Ghanaian cloth and wear these beautiful fabrics throughout your stay. There are lots of fantastic markets and local businesses where you will find a wide selection of patterned cloth.
The Ashanti Empire, which stretched across a large part of modern-day Ghana until its decline in 1957, has had a large influence on Ghanaian fashion. Traditionally, Ashanti royals wore Kente cloth, which is formed by handweaving strips of cotton and silk in bright patterns and colours. Each colour has a special meaning, and different colour combinations were woven into Kente cloth for specific occasions, or to impart special qualities to the wearer.
Today, although Kente cloth is widely available, it continues to be associated with sophistication, wealth or high social status.
A slower pace of life
Volunteering in the rural Volta region gives you the opportunity to really escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. In rural areas, such as the area where our partner projects are located, there is often no Wi-Fi, and the electricity and water supply can be intermittent. Take this as an opportunity to slow down, relax, and enjoy a slower pace of life as you immerse yourself into Ghanaian culture.
Two seasons instead of four
Ghana is situated very close to the Equator, and has a warm tropical climate. The weather in Ghana is hot and humid, and the temperature is often 30 degrees Celsius or above, so if you like the heat you will be well-suited to Ghana!
Unlike the UK, Ghana has two main seasons: wet and dry. In southern Ghana, the wet season takes place between April and June, and September and November, with some dry weather in between. Unlike the drizzly rain we’re accustomed to having year-round in the UK, Ghana’s rainy season sees short, infrequent bursts of rainfall, which are pleasantly warm and refreshing.