Ghana’s Historic Mosques: Nakore

This is one of a series of posts about Ghana’s only six remaining historic mud mosques built in the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style. 


Just southwest of Wa in Ghana’s Upper East Region, lies the small village of Nakore (inaccurately labeled Kapaguri on Google). Behind the central mosque stands a centuries-old mud mosque in the ancient Sudanic style of architecture. It has recently been painted white and stands in beautiful contrast to its dull, modern surroundings. Read More

Visiting the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary

I’ve always been a bit scared of hippos. I think it started in Ivory Coast when a missionary shared a horrific testimony about being attacked by a hippo. Then in 2008, I saw a hippo attack victim first hand at BMC (and I saw ‘justice’ served to the aggressor).

The hippopotamus is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the world because it is so aggressive and unpredictable. Add to that the statistic that they kill about 3000 (!) people a year and you’ll understand why I was hesitant to get in a dug-out canoe and approach them on the Black Volta. Nonetheless, after a bit of research I understood the importance that Wechiau plays to protecting these large, amphibious creatures in Ghana and wanted to support that community with a visit and some advocacy.

A hippo in the Black Volta River in the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary.

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White Volta Rapids in Dry Season

Last October, at the very end of rainy season, Nils and I hiked to the White Volta rapids north of Gambaga. There we found the engorged river roaring over an impressive rock formation. We decided then that we’d come back at the end of dry season to see the difference.

Nils and our friend Richard Jangdow joined me this time. The hike was a long one (9.5 miles, in & out) and it was blazing hot (108°F in the shade) but we made it and enjoyed soaking our feet in the water. Comparing the photos from this trip and the last one, I’m surprised that it wasn’t that much lower – probably a meter at most.

After hanging out at the rapids, we headed back to the hunter’s camp about two and a half miles east and the ferryman offered to give us a canoe ride up the river. I hung back and flew my drone to get shots of them in the boat.

Rock Paintings on the Gambaga Escarpment (Tusugu, Gingana and Kpatritinga)

In 1964, archaeologists P.L. & P.J. Carter published a paper entitled Rock Paintings from Northern Ghana. In it they detail their discovery of ancient rock art in January 1963 – the first to be documented in the newly formed nation of Ghana. I myself had stumbled across some very primitive pictographs on the Gambaga Escarpment a few miles from Nalerigu (more on that in a bit) and I was curious to see what they had found 55 years ago.

The drawings (illustrated by Carter to the right) were found right along the Ghana-Togo border on the Gambaga Escarpment (just north of the village of Tusugu or Tusik). On a rock shelter in the side of the cliffs, they found the well-preserved remains of an ancient community. There were over a dozen large terre pisé structures and twice as many smaller granary like constructions. On the walls among the cliff dwellings were four collections of the Ghanaian pictographs. Read More

White Volta Rapids North of Gambaga

The White Volta River flows east to west just a few miles north of me and I’ve hiked down the Gambaga Escarpment to it several times. I recently visited a section of the river that appeared to have some rapids in Google’s satellite imagery. I was trying to find the exact spot that Dr. Rudolf Fisch photographed in 1901 and suspected (incorrectly) that this was the place.

My friend Nils accompanied me and we biked from Nalerigu to Dintingi to the scarp, hiked down (with our bikes), then rode to the farm settlement of Ayoobu, and hiked along the river bank to the fishing settlement of Achebu (Kyeebu). It was a trek of about 17km.

As we approached Achebu, we could hear the roar of the rapids. As we came out in the open it was a sight to behold! The massive river gets funneled down through a narrow spot full of volcanic rock which causes it rush and explode with energy.

I met Frances, the chief of the fishing settlement. He’s a kind man and a Christian – in fact, he was reading his Bible when I arrived. The settlement was a mix of several ethnic groups: Mamprusi, Kusasi and Ewe. The latter surprised me a bit for Ewe are typically found in the southeast of Ghana and southern Togo. However, they explained that Ewe are fisherman and tend to follow major bodies of water wherever they lead.

Sirigu Pottery & Arts Center

On our trip up to Burkina Faso with Heidi’s parents we made a stop at SWOPA – the Sirigu Women’s Organization for Pottery and Art. Just outside the village of Sirigu, the arts centre offers tours, workshops and a gift shop where you can learn about this traditional art form of the Kasena people. Women from this village were commissioned to create the murals in the Navrongo Minor Basilica that I wrote about a couple months ago.

Our tour guide first took us to a nearby traditional Kasena compound and explained their architecture as well as some of their cultural practices.

Then we returned to the arts centre where we at a traditional Ghanaian meal in their canteen and bought some of the pottery created and decorated by the local women who are members of the SWOPA co-op.

Here’s a short documentary on YouTube about the process of decorating walls in Sirigu.

Escarpment in July