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
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.
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.
When the first team from Cordele came out it was rainy season. That time of year isn’t very good for animal spotting at Mole National Park. So they went south to see the slave castle at Cape Coast and climb the canopy at Kakum.
This group had the benefit of coming during dry season – the best time for safari in Mole. We just stayed one night but had a VERY close encounter with an elephant (too close) as well as spotting lots of other wildlife. I also noticed that the baboon population was down and they were less aggressive than they’ve been in the past. That is a welcome change!