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PAF’s Trip to Ghana #2: A tour of Accra

For three weeks, Pan-Africa Football is in Ghana to visit just about all corners of the country to experience its culture, and of course its football. We will be traveling back and forth from the capital Accra to other prominent locations across Ghana, including the Ashanti Region, Tamale, the Bono Region and the Cape Coast. Read on for the second blog in the series as we go into the heart of the capital, Accra.

Accra Sports Stadium

After settling in for a few days outside of Accra, it was time to check the Ghanaian capital itself. Salah and I took a packed tro tro and made the trip through heavy traffic on Monday into the center of the city before disembarking to do our moving by foot. We were greeted by numerous people who were selling all sorts of goods that included furniture, sunglasses, food, shoes and clothes to list only a few. Following the drive and before starting the lengthy walking portion, we went to a stand and downed some water from freshly cut coconuts as well as some slices of the flesh. The first-time experience with the “tree of life” was an energetic necessity for me.

On our walk through the first commercial section we encountered, I purchased some sunglasses that we were able to haggle the price of down to about half of what the vendor was originally asking for. Sunscreen probably would have been a great investment for me, but that was a lesson I would not fully learn until the end of the day. Eventually we made our way to the neighborhood of Victoriaborg, where many international companies and organizations have their base as well as government agencies of Ghana including the Bank of Ghana and the Supreme Court of Ghana. The first place we decided to check out was the National Theatre of Ghana. We managed to convince the people working at the theater to give us a very interesting and informative tour where we saw all sorts of interesting displays and could peak into some of the facilities.

I found out why coconuts are an invaluable fruit and source of energy

A fruit display in Accra

The National Theatre of Ghana

View from inside the main auditorium at the National Theatre

One of the several statues surrounding the National Theatre

Drums on display that are used for special occasions

Afterwards we walked by the major government buildings in Accra such as the Parliament House and the State House before we passed the Accra Sports Stadium and came upon the famous Independence Square. A gentleman there took us to the top of Black Star Gate and told the story of how Ghana obtained independence in 1957 as we took in a breathtaking view of Black Star Square and Independence Arch. Next up was an unsuccessful first experience with chewing sugarcane before a walkthrough of Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum. All sorts of memorabilia that belonged to the first president of Ghana and the founder of Pan-Africanism was viewed as I learned more about the leader who is the reason why Pan-Africa Football has its name.

Independence Square as viewed from the top of the Black Star Gate

The Statue of the Unknown Soldier at Independence Square

Mausoleum of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah

The tour of Accra was only getting started though because next we had to go to Makola Market. Since it was Monday, one of Accra’s largest and busiest markets was in full operation and people were everywhere as we navigated our way throughout the area. We made it through to view some of the landmarks of the area before meeting up with Salah’s friend Suleman. Suleman took us off the market road and through an alley before we ascended a series of stairs up to the roof of one of the buildings where his family was eating. They prepared a plate of food for me that is typical of the French speaking population in West Africa: couscous and chicken. I washed down the delicious meal with a notable local beverage called Attaya that is served in a small glass, a hot green tea that is amazingly refreshing and perfect for following a large meal. Suleman, whose very kind family is originally from the country of Niger, explained some of the societal customs and culture in Francophone West Africa as we ate and I asked questions. I asked him the difficult question of who he would support if a FIFA World Cup qualifying match was played between Ghana and Niger and after a pained period of consideration he answered Ghana.

One of many places to get goods at the Makola Market

Suleman and I

Waiting outside the mosque

Following our meal and much needed period of sitting at the top of the building, we made our way back down and I waited as Salah and Suleman went to pray in a mosque. It was beginning to approach evening and we decided to head back to Kasoa. We waited for a taxi and bid our regards to Suleman as we muscled ourselves into a crowded taxi with heavy competition for seats. By the time we got back to the hotel I was ready to collapse but it was only appropriate after such an eventful day. Accra is a beautiful and large city that cannot be fully experienced in only one day, but I feel like I saw the most I possibly could. Next up we were set for a 13-hour long bus ride to the northern half of Ghana and the city of Tamale, which will be covered in the next blog.

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