The Heritage of Ghana is both a complex blend of traditional African elements and European influences created during the Colonial Era. Heritage encompasses the unique customs and lifestyles of the many ethnic groups in different regions throughout the country: their languages, dress, architecture, handicrafts, customs and festivals. Ghana has also benefited from some aspects of Colonial rule, but for the most part was brutally victimised by wave after wave of European colonisers who engaged in the Slave Trade.

While the Europeans contributed much to establishing noble educational institutions, a great deal of the colonial legacy is written in tragedy. For many visitors to Ghana, the most visible landmarks of this are the slave dungeons at the castles and forts along the coast. Among these tourists are the numerous African Americans and other people of African descent who visit the country each year. Indeed, the government of Ghana has even established a Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations to address many of the concerns and desires of Africa’s lost Sons and Daughters.

Much of the Historical Heritage of Ghana relates to the relics of encounters between the local people and Europeans in the mid-15th and 20th centuries, various inter-tribal wars, missionary activities and the struggle for self-government. Some of the monuments of significance include numerous forts and castles built along the coast, first as trading posts and later as transit points for slaves. Fascinating collections of historical treasures can also be found in the National Museum in Accra, and the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi.

On a broader scale, the Heritage of Ghana is reflected daily in all aspects of ordinary life and commerce. In the historical capital Accra, there are the atmospheric older quarters: Usshertown and Jamestown are characterised by an architectural cocktail spanning several centuries, spiced with striking landmarks such as the 17th century Osu Castle and Jamestown Lighthouse, the more modern Independence Arch and Nkrumah Mausoleum, and the lively fishing market. Modem Accra is epitomized by Cantonments Road, more widely known as Oxford Street, Accra’s hip downtown with bustling shops, handicrafts, fabrics, hotels and restaurants.

Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi, is the traditional capital for the Asante people, heirs to a centuries-old kingdom that once sprawled from its core in central Ghana into what are now Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso. Better known to outsiders as Ashanti, Asante was the last and most enduring of a succession of centralised states that controlled the gold mines of Obuasi, though its wealth and influence was also linked to the ample supply of captives it provided to coastal slave traders. Traditional Ashanti landmarks include a beautiful 300-year old fetish shrine at Besease, the royal kente weaving village of Bonwire, and Manhyia Palace – where the Asante King sits in session every sixth Sunday, heralded by a procession of dignitaries and a fanfare of exuberant drumming and horn blowing that capture the pageantry of Asante’s past.

There is also the coastal Fante Kingdom, Asante’s southern counterpart and traditional rival, centered in Mankessim and incorporating the ports of Cape Coast, Elmina, Anomabu, Saltpond and Winneba. Here, local fishermen still ply their ancient trade in colourful canoes, and life is ruled by the winds and tides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The north of Ghana, by contrast, has strong cultural links to the Sahel, clearly visible in the local style of dress, a strong Islamic influence dating back to mediaeval times, and the captivating mud architecture of villages such as Paga, Sirigu and Larabanga.

Sunseekers Tours is very sensitive to the emotions of these displaced generations. Our Heritage Tours include the major UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the castles at Elmina and Cape Coast. Interpretive guides attempt to convey the many complex forces at work during the era of the Slave Trade to shed light on how such barbarian practices came about and were perpetuated for so many centuries. Solemn vigils, wreath-laying, prayer services and other acts of remembrance form a part of our special programmes for our Diasporan guests

 

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