Jan 21: At Mole Game, Larabanga and the Mystic Stone

​Today after much anticipation we finally got to visit the Mole National Park. Being a day that many people were looking forward to, spirits were high as we climbed on the bus in the morning to embark on our two and a half hour trip.

On the way out we saw many small towns along the road. When we arrived at the park everybody was anticipating a really amazing day. When we arrived at the visitors center we were introduced to a park ranger who began to explain the history of the park, when they got a call that the elephants had been spotted. We quickly hopped on the safari trucks and set off on our adventure.


As we drove through the park on the top of our cars, we were able to spot many animals: Antelopes, birds, and warthogs.



We then pulled up on next to a small pond to watch as the elephants strolled up to cool down in the water. We were able to stand as close to 20 feet away from the elephants, which was a truly amazing experience as most people have only seen elephants in the confines of a zoo.

As we stood on the side of the pond the ranger explained that the elephants we were watching were all males, who are much less aggressive than their female counterparts. We also learned that their true color is black which absorbs the sun, so to adapt to the heat, they cover themselves in layers of mud and dirt. We watched the elephants ascend from the pond, and after taking a few pictures, we headed back to our cars and headed off on the rest of the safari. We drove through the beautiful African terrain and observed many other animals which are inhabitants of the park including a red necked bird which burrows in the ground for their nest.

After the safari we all arrived back at the visitors center where we were able to go into a museum to view and array of skeletons and skins belonging to animals within the park.


After a day in the sun and the excitement of the animals, we got back on the bus and headed off to a town nearby, Larabanga. We pulled up to a town close the the park which housed an ancient mosque, built in 1421.

After a brief tour and observation of the mosque we learned that the 100% muslim town (a rare occurrence) was built around the structure.

Also, we were told the legend behind the structure. According to the story, a man who was seeking a spot to build a mosque stood at a holy rock and threw a spear. The mosque was built at the very site which the spear landed. The mosque itself is a really interesting structure. It is a white building nestled next to a tree, held up by wood and mud.

One thing we learned is that the doors were so small as to force the occupants of the space to bow to god during their entry.

Mystic Stone 

We then visited the mystique stone, the place where the spear was thrown. We were greeted by the children of the town and learned new handshakes with them. The group donated a soccer ball to the children.

We then took a quick stop to the mystic rock where the spear was thrown.

When they were building a road they moved the rock to make way. And the next day the rock mystically moved back to the same place, hence the name mystic rock.

After the quick stop to town, we headed back to Tamale.

Jan 20: In Yendi, the Yaa Naa, GundoNaa and Babatu

Day 18 began with about half of the group (the Mikuuls) eating at Miliki Mikuul while the rest of us ate at the hotel – we had the opportunity to choose where we wanted to have breakfast. After breakfast, we all set out on the two hour drive to Yendi.

On the bus, we were notified of the demise of the Queen Mother of Tamale, whom we met on our first full day in town. Her funeral procession took place on Sunday, the same day of her demise. We were reminded of the burial of the Dakpema’s Queen mother. — removing the stone from the top of the grave because they use the same burial place for all Dakpem queen mothers. On top of the stone, there is a pot of traditional brew which is refilled after each burial.

Yaa Naa’s Palace 

Our first stop in Yendi, was the King’s Palace – which we are now accustomed to. It is important to pay homage to the King before proceeding to do whatever work you would like to do in his community. This King is the King of the Dagbon and rules over much of Northern Ghana because the Dagbon occupy most of the Northern Region of Ghana. Two differences that we noticed between him and other chiefs that we had visited before are that ; he had more security as well as a larger entourage which consisted of a secretary and a public relations officer. His security consisted of soldiers and a few policemen which we later connected to the fact that his predecessor was killed in conflict years ago. He also has a larger entourage because he is the King of other Dagbon chiefs. Another reason why we went to the Palace was to donate textbooks to an NGO that works in much Northern Ghana because throughout our stay, we have come to realise the quality of education, in this region, is a huge concern to the people. The King then expressed his gratitude and handed out Kola nuts – as per tradition. He then informed us that Professor Idrissu is actually a Prince in Dagbon – much to our surprise.


He expressed his gratitude to Professor Iddrisu for being an advocate for education; both in the US and here – through the textbook contribution. He shared a story that Professor’s ancestors sent him to school and he is now sharing that knowledge which shows that choosing to send him to school was a great investment. This, in part, shows one reason why parents may be inspired to send their children to school – so that they take care of the, when the parents can no longer take care of themselves as well as share their knowledge with the community, large. The King then voiced his interest in appointing Professor Iddrisu as a ruler of a section of Northern Ghana, upon his return from the US and presented him with a smock, a special privilege from the overlord of Dagbon.

After which he was made to take a seat as tradition requires.

We were then challenged to respect him as we now know who he actually is and know that as a child of the royal household, he is protected by the prayers of his ancestors and the royal house, at large.

Gundo-Naa, Female paramount chief

The next stop was Gundogu Naa’s palace. She is another King in Yendi and holds the title of King instead of Queen because ruling is not a gendered role. The same way a CEO is called a CEO, regardless of their sex is the same way positions of power should be viewed. We had to wait outside of the palace for about 20 minutes before we were let inside and we later found out that she was being prepared for our visit. Gundogu Naa is the head of 8 other female chiefs who own land and rule over their households just as male chiefs do, again, because such roles are not separated by gender. She was the eldest daughter of the overload of Dagbon and it’s by that status she’s ascends to that position.

What was interesting was that her council is composed of men who are subordinate to her. This visit overall challenged how we normally view African women in positions of high authority because we rarely see any mentioned in literature.

She mentioned that nobody in Yendi had any ties to slavery or had descended from slavery because the community refused to take part in it. Because of the location of Yendi, this was hard to believe since it is very close to Salaga – the largest slave market in the Northern part of Ghana. In addition, this narrative has been common in multiple locations because of the shame and emotional burden of slavery, a fact too hard to handle. It also protects the image of Yendi – as a whole. Ironically, Babatu, a famous slave raider lived and was buried in Yendi.

The last stop was viewing the tomb of Babatu but the designated family member in charge of the relics and narrator refused to meet with us.   Though Professor Iddrisu, through his contacts in Yendi had discussions on our visit. He argued that he was not gaining anything from meeting and talking to groups about Babatu and as a result, would rather not meet with us. We viewed his tomb which is dilapidated.

An important point that was raised in response to why we visited Babatu’s family and tomb was that in the process of interrogation, it is important to learn about the villain as we do the victims. Prof. Iddrisu noted that we are not celebrating Babatu but rather interrogating his actions. One lady who lives in Babatu’s rebuilt house let us in to show us the weapons of destruction that Babatu used.

We had one boy posing with and demonstrating how, the weapons were used which was quite uncomfortable to watch.

We then headed back to Tamale where the remainder of the day, waited for dinner, and played volleyball.

Jan 17: Britain and the suppression of the slave trade and Kate’s Birthday 🎂

Friday 17th Breakfast was a bit later today, with a wake-up call of 8am before going to the group’s regular restaurant Miliki Mikuul. After some delicious egg bread, beans, and coffee, the group gathered back at the Global Dream hotel for a bit of time to rest after a long day on Thursday.

Around 11, group gathered for a lecture/discussion of  “Britain and the Supression of Slavery” by Raymond Dumett and Marion Johnson. The article dealt with the ending of slavery on the Colony, Asante and the Northern Territories. The discussion centered around two main points:

1) the definition of slavery in this era (roughly 1805 to 1930) and

2) the failure of the British colonies to end slavery.

The issues surrounding the definition of slavery included: – There was not a clear definition of slavery – Ending slavery only affected the British people (not local populations) – Britain didn’t have the authority over the region entirely, just a large influence over some parts – The British did not want to affect the economy of the region and ending slavery presumably would’ve done this. These factors led to a continuously changing definition of slavery – with slaves being defined over time as indentured servants, pawns, and apprentices etc. until slavery finally ended in reality around 1930. The discussion was engaging and fascinating.

Below are some of the pictures high lighting the discussion.

After the lecture by Prof. Iddrisu it was time for some lunch at Miliki Mikuul where the group could chat over what had been learned. There was a free afternoon after lunch, so much of the group decided to explore the market for a while and do some shopping. And had time for fresh coconut.

This was a fun way to spend the afternoon and many students picked up souvenirs like Ghanaian fabrics or jewelry.

After everyone reconvened, it was time for dinner – which was also a celebration of Kate’s 20th birthday!

The group enjoyed some cake and card games and then came back to the hotel where some rested up for the next day, some celebrated Kate’s birthday a bit longer, and some got a taste for Ghanaian nature through some exploring. It was a great day of bonding and fun for the group and everyone is looking forward to tomorrow. Adie, Adam, Abby, Kirstin

Jan 14: Visit to YooNaa and Saakpuli Slave Market

We started our beautiful day off at 6:30 am and headed to breakfast at Miliki Mikuul. We had a delicious bread and egg dish along with beans, oats, and a hot drink. Yoonaa’s Palace was our next stop. It was important to pay respect to the chief as we passed through Savelugu town to Sakpulgu’s Slave Market.

After we acknowledged the chief, we started our journey to Sakpulgu’s Slave Market.

There we met another chief, the chief of Saakpuli. His palace was under renovation. As courtesy will require us, we made a token donation.


We were honored that we had come to learn about the history of the village. The town used to be very big one but turned into a trading port for enslaved people. There ended up being a lot of internal conflict that dispersed the people of the village. During this meeting, Anna N. became the chief’s wife and the leader of the women and Chris became the chief’s best friend.

The town was a slave market but due to the internal conflict and external attacks it got ruined. The slave past had remained with Saakpuli. Located just a few kilometers from the Savelugu, the district capital, Saakpulgu  has ko public school since time. And many children were seen just loitering around.

An NGO has helped built a few classrooms the roof of which is now ripped off. All calls to to Member of Parliament has fallen on death ears. Two teachers, not on government payroll, used to teach at the now defunct two classroom school but now they are just teaching their own children at night.

There were many children in the village and it was 11:30 in the morning. They have been pleading for years now for NGO’s to come help but no one has been coming to help them. They asked us to please talk to the Ghanaian NGO’s and even our government to see if they could help in any way.

With all the chidden holding our hands, we made our way to the famous point where enslaved people were sold. In the roots of the tree, there were holes with nuts used as currency.

You would have the fill the hole up with cowry shells if the enslaved person was worth a lot. The roots also had holes where the enslaved people were chained. There was a nearby shack where the slaves would sleep at night. We learned that the enslaved people were caught by people stalking them on their farms. The strongest person was kidnapped and taken to the king.

We got to visit the local museum that was built with mud and straw. Inside the museum were artifacts of bowls, rings, shackles, and other things.

The supposed museum is in disrepair and not fit for human habitation. We had to enter in threes to avoid upsetting the structure.

During this time, we learned some sentences in the local language to ask the children their names and their ages. They were very sweet and shy, but eventually warmed up to us.

We then made our way to the wells down a long road. It took about 20 minutes to walk each way and it was very hot.

All of the wells were dried up. There used to be many people that visited the wells, but now barely anyone comes to see them and they are no longer labelled so only locals will know where to find the wells.

We walked back and got on the bus and made our way back to Tamale.

Jan 12: First free day and Sunday church service

Our first free day caused for a slow wakeup and leisurely and calm breakfast of egg sandwiches, sausage, oats and watermelon. We had the option to attend local religious services and a group of us went to a Christian service at Winners’ Chapel International. We arrived mid-service, as the services are long in Ghana– from around 8:30am to 10:00 am– and were greeted by the sound of booming music before we even walked through the doors.

Upon our arrival, smiling faces quickly ushered us towards seats in the middle of the large church. Despite the great size of the church, it was completely packed, bursting with people wearing beautiful and colorful outfits. The pastor stood on a raised platform, holding a microphone, which filled up the entire room as he spoke into it. Behind him, the walls were covered in decorations and flashing lights. Throughout the service, the pastor maintained a strong presence, feeding off of interactions with the congregation, which kept the crowd energized–and in turn himself.

There were many call and response interactions and he often asked the audience to repeat the same responses louder, “What do you say to Him?” “A–men!”. This created a passionate display of faith.

There were parallels between this service and that which we attended at the mosque two days prior, in how they were powerfully led, but also many differences, with a major being the informality of this service.

The sermon’s themes revolved around engaging in prayer and fasting throughout the month of January. The screens at the front of the church rotated between the messages, “Prayer and fasting, gateway to breaking limits 2020” and “Enough is Enough 2020”. Throughout the service, the pastor quoted atleast 6 or 7 different bible verses related to prayer and fasting, and those of us who attend Christian services at home, noted that this was much more scripture heavy than what were used to. Additionally, the pastor spoke with much more volume and vigor than at home, and the crowd responded in the same way. The congregation was more active, swaying, dancing, and clapping along, to songs- making the environment more “fun” and less formal.

At the end of the service, the pastor asked anyone who was worshipping there for the first time to come to the front for a blessing. Our group went to the front, and the congregation warmly welcomed and blessed us. The leaders then ushered us to the side to greet us personally. Music started playing to mark the end of the service, and a young woman sang beautifully, accompanied by a drum-set, piano and backup singers. Her vocals rivaled those of Christmas Fest at St. Olaf, and left us is awe! We left feeling energized and ready for the rest of our day, which we spent playing volleyball, swimming and napping.

Later that night, although we were saddened to leave our usual dinner spot– Maliki Micuul Food Joint– we were excited to experience Ghanaian fast food at KFC, which was arguably much better than the KFC in the US. We’re looking forward to a good night of sleep tonight.

Jan 10: FrIday Payers and Shea butter production and the Simpa dance

We had a delicious breakfast at the Global dream hotel of yummy eggs, juicy watermelon and coffee. We then met up with Professor Iddrisu for a lecture to discuss our reading on  “Slavery, Islam and the Jakhanka People” by LO Sanneh. We were rudely interrupted early in our lecture and had to move to a less glamorous location.

The rationale for slavery has a firm legal foundation in Islam, a religion that emerged when slavery was already an accepted norm of practice in most settled societies. All humans were created to enjoy freedom, but that came with two conditions: conversion to Islam or if not possible, a protection of the Muslim state though the payment of the dimmni  tax. In further explanation Ahmad Baba explained that this was in reference to original Muslims but the complication is how can one determine  an original Muslim on a battle field? And how can a slave trader release his slaves because they had converted to Islam? It boiled down to local practice and the supposed humane treatment Islam made possible for slaves as an act of piety.  This was a great way to contextualize what we have seen and will be seeing.

Friday Prayers 
After our lecture, we had some free time and then went to a mosque service and afternoon prayer in Tamale. Some of the lessons in the Khutbah included: respect for parents (especially your mother), honoring God, respecting your fellow man and respecting God’s authority over life and death (in the context of abortion, etc). Abdulai joined the congratulation prayers. We then got an opportunity to talk with the Imam who had given the Khutbah and got a photo with him.

We then went off to lunch after the Jum’at prayers. We tried some new food and drink including fufu and hibiscus juice. This was a nice way to unwind.

Shea Butter production.
We were lucky enough to see how shea butter is made. These steps included: collecting the shea fruit, de-pulping, boiling, drying, de-husking, sorting, second drying, checking moisture, and storing.

We then went to go buy some shea butter for ourselves and found that the prices had increased since last year which Abdulai attributed to us “looking very white today”. Once we bought the slightly more expensive but still affordable shea butter, we headed back to the bus.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for an ATM and some street vendors came on the bus. They tried to sell us the gineau fowl we have heard much about from Abdulai. Once they left, we were headed back to the Global Dream. When back to the hotel, we had a bit of free time and then were treated to some amazing Ghanaian dancing and music out in the courtyard of Global Dream Hotel.

Once we had watched a few dances, we were all invited to join in.

The dancing consisted of hip movements and was accompanied by some percussion and singing.

Many were reluctant at first, but everyone eventually tried it out and had lots of fun in the process.

Much of the convincing came from Abdulai’s very impressive and enthusiastic interpretation of the dance. After chatting with the very kind dancers afterwards, we were off to dinner.

For dinner, we went to our favorite regular restaurant “Miliki Mikuul” and chatted over some delicious Ghanaian food. Afterwards, we were treated to some American cuisine in the form of ice cream at KFC. This was a great treat to end the day. After this, we were back to our hotel to rest. We are looking forward to seeing Salega.
Adie, Kirstin, Adam, and Abby

Jan 8: first day in Tamale

After another delicious breakfast at the Dream Hotel, we began the day by visiting Abdulai’s mother. He emphasized the importance of visiting his mother, Mma Adisah and family whenever he returns back to his hometown of Tamale. As a close community, word travels fast and Abdulai explained that his mother especially should first hear of his return from himself. Visiting his mother is a way to pay his respects for all that she has done. When we arrived at her home, she sat as we greeted her one by one with the expression for hello, “Nnaa”.

Then, Abdulai explained to her the goals of our class in coming to Ghana to study slavery. He presented her with gifts before we left– two large bottles of medicine,  vitamins, and two packets of Icy Hot cream that she can use on her own. She lives Abdulai’s sisters now, since Abdulai’s father passed 16 years ago. However, she has many neighbors that help whenever she is in need. In their community, neighbors are family. Because of this, Abdulai asked Chris to come with him to say hello to Mma Adisah’s neighbors and to share his gratitude for looking over his mother. This was the final of acts in paying respects that is required every time he returns to Ghana.

On the way to our next destination, we had the chance to drive past Abdulai’s original home where he grew up, which was an especially cool sight to see!

The Dakpema’s Palace 

The next place we went was Dakpema Palace, where we met the chief. It was intended to announce our presence in town and to assure him we of our good intentions and for support and protection while we go about our endeavors. This is a crucial aspect of community entry, the wrong move could jeopardize our project. It’s like getting into a house though the door or the window. Entry through the window might portray the entrant as a thief. We waited patiently outside the palace for the relevant office holders to be assembled.

The chief speaks through a linguist who facilitates communications between the chief and his people.

One interesting aspect of the chief’s life is their power in the clan, though this power is progressively eroded through the colonial encounter. His demands used to  be met and one interesting aspect of it, according to Professor Iddrisu, was in marriage. The chief could just point at a lady and that lady becomes his.  “He can select any woman and she will be brought to him.” This aspect of his power is no longer evident for the Dakpema but the overlord, the Yaa Naa, still has that power.

The LamasheNaa

We paid another visit a prominent Dagbon chief, the LamasheNaa. He admonished us to take our study abroad serious and take notes of whatever is going on so that we return home as aspects of the places we have visited.

Some of us took individual pictures with the LamasheNaa.

Lecture on Slavery in Northern Ghana 

Our final stop of the day was to the University for Development studies Nyankpala campus which is one of the four campus locations of the only public university in northern Ghana. established in 1992, This specific campus was the agricultural and applied science campus. We were lucky enough to meet the principal of the school, the dean of students and Abdulai’s colleague and neighbor, Dr.  Felix Yakubu.  The two have houses next to each other, and attended the same university. He called Prof. Iddrisu, his mentor. Prof. Iddrisu actually made his start as a teacher working at this university before he came to the United States. Professor Yakubu gave us an important lecture on slavery in northern Ghana. We we’re able to hear him speak about the two types of slavery in Ghana present before the 1800s; commercial and indigenous, the method through which slaves were acquired (ex. Pawning, inheritance, and capture), and the people’s reactions to the slave raiders (flee, convert, build defenses). After his lecture our class asked many questions bringing up aspects like the Arab slave trade, the role of women in slavery, and debated what was the real “end” of the slave trade which we found to be much later than the official law to ban the slave trade in 1807 and slavery itself in 1833. Dr. Yakubu commended the group for competing ourselves and for our engagement through questioning.

We ended the day at the university with a group photo before heading on the bus back to lunch.

Lunch was some delicious street food! It was so good we returned for dinner later that night! We ended our night by meeting and playing soccer with Jazee’s children.

And later playing some competitive games of volleyball!

Jan 7: ride into Tamale, Global Dream Hotel

We started the day with breakfast at the Davellen and Rosemay hotels in Kumasi. The rest of the day was spent on the bus driving towards Tamale where we will be spending the majority of our month. We stopped at a gas station pretty quickly into the drive to stretch our legs.

We also made a short stop on a toll bridge along the way to get street foods such as banana chips, papayas and tiger nuts.

Much of what we saw was rural Ghana which was a nice change after having spent the first 3 days in larger cities. Something we noticed along the way was how people burn a lot of the grass alongside the road. Bush burning is illegal in Ghana and numerous campaigns to stop it always fall on death ears. The reason is simple. Cigarette smokers and rodent hunters are always blamed for such bush fires. Its another way to prepare the land for farming. There are also cattle grazers who burn the bush in the believe that the new sprouting grass is sweeter for the animals. This issue is captured in Cyprian Ekwensi’s Burning Grass, where the Fulani in Nigeria engage in such behavior. Whatever the reason for burning, bush burning is illegal and a criminal act in Ghana.

After many more hours of driving, we arrived in Tamale to our brand new hotel (like it was built this week…). The group is literally the first to occupy this annex to the Global Dream Hotel in Tamale.


We played some soccer with kids then relaxed until dinner.

We ate fried chicken, spicy rice and noodles at a nearby restaurant.

The road to Kumasi through Du Bois Museum: Jan 6, 2020

We started our day with breakfast in the Pink Hostel (fresh fruit and eggs). We then packed up and drove to the W.E.B Du Bois Center which was created in 1985. W.E.B Du Bois was a famous activist and Pan Africanist during his time. He is well known for being the first African American to get a PhD from Harvard University. As well as his educational success in the United States, he attended the Niagara conference and was one of the founders of the NAACP. An inscription on the side of the museum tells it all.

In 1961, Du Bois was invited by President Kwame Nkrumah to live in Ghana to write the Encyclopedia Africana, but only finished the first three chapters. In 1961 on the eve of the civil rights march in Washington, he died in his sleep at the age of 95 in his house, as a Ghanaian. DuBois’ work is still very important today. He thought a lot about the past and used it as a guide to move forward and not move backwards.

After we got back on the bus, Professor Abdulai Iddrisu lectured about what we had seen at the center and asked us to consider the similarities between Du Bois idea of and processes in the struggle in the past and Nkrumah’s idea of Forward Ever and Backward Never. He had said that they went hand in hand in that while President Nkrumah had wanted everyone to move on from the racial segregation in colonial Ghana, W.E.B DuBois wanted everyone to celebrate the achievements of the leaders in the past and use their achievements to guide us in shaping the future.

We also discussed the importance of chiefs in Ghanaian culture and politics. This topic was inspired by the many stools present in Dubois’ burial ground given by chiefs.

We discussed how during colonial the Indirect Rule system that the British used to rule over their colonies could only succeed where the people had established political institutions, and chefs were central to this endeavor.  After the independence of Ghana the role of chiefs changed and secular educated tended to play a more important role in governance.

We then started our long journey to Kumasi. We enjoyed watching the cityscape of Accra turn more into remote farmlands. Many of us fell asleep on the ride while others continued to enjoy the scenary. Halfway through, we stopped for some ice cream (which froze our hands) and felt the temperature drastically rise and the air become more dry unlike Accra.

We got back on the bus and continued on our way to Kumasi. We entered Kumasi, which used to be the slave capital run by the Asante. We drove through their city center market square and it took us at least an hour to drive only three miles because of the crowd of people. We were all fascinated to see how different and how busy the city life in Kumasi compared to life in Northfield. We finally arrived at Ike’s Cafe & Grill and we had a leisurely dinner and reflected about things we had seen throughout the day.

We got some fancy drinks (smoothies, not alcohol don’t worry Abdulai) and indulged on pizza, sandwiches, lobster, etc.

Then we proceeded to go to the hostel to relax and reflect on our day. We were split between hostels, The Comfort Place and the Quiet Place (not the one from the horror movie). We are looking forward to what the new day has in store for us.

Caleigh, Gugu, Seth and Anna.

Forward Ever Backward Never. Jan 5: first day in Accra.

With our long day of travel behind us and a good night’s sleep, we woke up Sunday morning feeling well rested and were met with a delicious breakfast of fresh mango, pineapple, chicken and bread at the Pink Hostel.

After breakfast, we got our things together and returned to the courtyard of the pink hostel where professor Abdulai shared some wisdom with us, reminding us why we are here and what we should be focusing on. He referenced a story from the Alchemist, in which a man is told to go admire the beauty of a house while holding a spoonful of oil. Upon his return, he is asked about what he saw. He realizes that while distracted by the beauty of the house, he spilled his spoonful of oil. Abdulai used this as a metaphor for us to remember the purpose of our trip, in that despite the beauty and much fun we will have, we are here to study the history of slavery and must not lose this focus. Throughout the day, he reminded us not to “spill the oil”.

After this talk, we got on the bus to get our first glimpses (in the daylight) of the coastal city of Accra. The city was alive with movement, as many people filled the streets dressed in their church attire, to attend Sunday services. We admired the city from the bus while Abdulai and Chris searched for an ATM to get money out.

When they returned, we walked to our first destination—Kwame Nkrunah Memorial Park and Mausoleum— and were met by a tour guide, Mr. Quao. As we walked the pathway towards the memorial, he explained how the many trees lining our path were each planted by different African political leaders.

The main statue depicted the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrunah, delivering his groundbreaking speech celebrating Ghana’s newly gained independence. The statue stands in the place he gave his speech 63 years ago in 1957, which is relevant because Ghanaians were prohibited from this area, that was designated exclusively for British citizens to play polo. The statue depicts Nkrumah stepping and pointing forward, reminding Ghanaians, as he’s known to have said, “forward ever, and backwards never”.

After seeing the statues, we walked into the Mausoleum and paid respects to Nkrumah and his wife Fathia’s final resting place. We learned a bit more about their lives and deaths. Nkrumah was born in Ghana and then moved to US, studying at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He eventually received his degree and a PhD from the London School of Economics with a dissertation on “Mind and Thought in primitive societies”. In his later years, he returned to Ghana and became Prime Minister and then the first president of the modern nation of Ghana. Despite his hard work in modernizing Ghana, various circumstances led to an overthrow of Nkrumah, and he lost political favor and lived in exile in Guinea for the last years of his life. Years after his death, he regained favor in Ghana and in 1992 this memorial was constructed. Papers released by the CIA in the following years revealed that the US was heavily involved in the political upheaval that resulted in Nkrumah’s exile. During his time as president, the US disliked Nkrumah, because they felt he was communist, pulling the rest of Africa with him, in the Cold War era.

One student asked how the dislike for Nkrumah was so easy mended and returned him to a hero? Our guide explained that Western proganda depicted Nkrumah falsely as a dictator, rather than someone fighting hard for Africa’s freedom from western domination. After his death, the proganda died down and people were able to reflect on all that Nkrumah truly did for Ghana and Africa.

After the Mausoleum, we toured a museum filled with artifacts from Nkrunah’s life, such as pictures, books, and clothing. We also met the director of the site, who is from the Tamale and a Dagomba as Abdulai and he told us to enjoy our time and the rich culture of Ghana. On our way out of the memorial site, Abdulai pointed to an extremely tall and skinny tree that was planted in the site by the president of Zimbabwe in 2007, Robert Mugabe. He explained that this was the “tree that never died” because every time it appears to die, it always came back to life. This is symbolic of Nkrumah’s  life as his legacy is resilient to those who attempt to destroy him.

On the bus to our next stop— the Artist Alliance Gallery—Abdulai reminded us to be analytical, synthesize and ask questions about what we were learning and seeing. We arrived at the gallery and met the owner’s son who was born in Ghana but moved to the U.S at age 26 and lived there for 20 years. He recently returned to Ghana to help his father with this gallery. He spoke at length about the different artists and how the gallery was meant to capture the “Breath of West Africa”. During his tour of the gallery, he talked about the Kente cloth, and different artifacts. Abdulai asked him if they were any art or artifacts in this gallery related to slavery. He first replied “no”, and thinking about it explained that slavery was an emotional subject that he didn’t like to think or talk about. This was our first encounter with one of the many silences that surround our study as the legacy of slavery in Ghana is difficult and emotional. Abdulai pointed out that the silences and absences can teach us just as much as the presences. Why people don’t engage with or are silent about our past experience with slavery? The question is, is it only emotional, or shame or what society will judge one for our complicity? Or  that we have moved on or now focused on what brings practical results such as tourism slavery and the like? These are questions the class will grapple with as we journey to the north, where most of the slave came from.

In the gallery, there was one single painting tucked away on the fourth floor that depicted Africans loading other Africans onto a slave boat in shackles. Abdulai noted that the group last year almost completely missed this painting, only discovering it as they were about to leave, as it was so hidden away. This hidden painting can symbolize how the subject of slavery is treated in Ghana, as many Ghanaians never think or talk about it, and many don’t even know that much of Modern Africa is shaped by our slave experience. This was a good reminder for us to not spill our oil, as we could’ve easily moved on from the gallery, forgetting our purpose here.

As we drove to lunch, we briefly touched upon “what a slave is” based on Abdulai’s article “The History of Evil”. We made a distinction between the historical and contemporary slavery. Abdulai emphasized that slavery was a relationship issue and the slave in Roman times was considered a “thing” who had no right to participate in Society (Iddrisu 2017). We thought about how we are all connected to slavery whether our ancestors may have been slaves or slaveowners. With this lesson on our minds, we headed to the Alliance Francaise where we dined on delightful meals of chicken, fish and rice.

Michael, Sarah, Zoe and Heri.