Resources have always been a topic at hand in Ghana. Whether it was the natural resources provided from the first contact with Europeans to current issues surrounding the lack thereof; resources have been key. My experience so far in the country is highlighting some of these issues.
We visited the Cape Coast Castle, one of many, and maybe the most important, that dot the shoreline of the country. While there, the visitors museum had an interesting take on European influence on the country, stating that there were many positive cultural, political, and economic benfits of European contact withstanding the slave trade. It was also thought provoking to hear one of our hosts speak about the Ghanaian experience at the museum versus the black American experince at the museum. He stated that while many black Americans become overwhelmed with emotion during the visit, many Ghanains do not feel this since the connection of the middle passage and life enslaved is not there for them. I also must say that there was a serious, yet upbeat tone to our tour provided by the Castle that I did not anticipate as well. With that said, after the end of the slave trade, many of the castles were used to educate “mulatto” children of the European men and African women that were produced out of force. Oftentimes, they educated these children for jobs later working in the castles.
We also visited Kakum National Park, which is only one of six canopy walks in the world. The forest is home to many species of birds, mammals, and plants. However, with the unregulated logging in the area until the 1980s, the forest was growing smaller and species were dying. There are many plants and animals that the country is still attempting to account for, but the intentional logging has ceased for the most part. We were able to walk across all seven sections of the canopy walk that spans the tops of the trees and is over 40 meters above the forest floor, which I did not see once! After I got over the initial wobbliness of the rope-based suspension bridges, I was able to enjoy the serenity of the forest and begin to think about this resource that the country can use respectively to further advance itself. Kakum is a popular field trip destination, my fellow TGC colleagues in Accra actually accompanied a group of school children to the park earlier in the week! With this hands on learning, it is great to see this natural resource being used in a different manner, but to still allow people to intellectually profit.
A quick overview of the canopy walk at Kakum
I also had the experience of attending a football match of the local team, the Cape Coast Dwarfs. Yes, Dwarfs! The crowd took this game very seriously, watching each kick with passion. Many bags of water were thrown on the field at a call the crowd disagreed with and many “toots” were tooted with calls that assisted the home team. With that said, with the final goal overturned by the ref for the Dwarfs fans stormed the field, jumping over the barbed-wire fence that served as a “barrier” between the stands and the field. Those frenzied fans soon found themselves stomping the referees to the ground and also being on the opposing side of the police’s clubs. It turned violent instantly. A player tried to help one of the refs by getting him to change into a white shirt to be less noticeable, but that didn’t help much, it just made him stand out more to chose in the crowd directing the frenzied fans. Then the stampede started. At the opposite side of the end if the stadium I was seated, the police apparently shot tear gas onto the field and into the stands. My group stood frozen to take it all in and to decide our next move. We exited the stadium safely to our host telling us that it is usually a lot worse! Government resources at work!
I am looking forward to continuing to think about this idea of “resources” and what it means to education systems at home and abroad, in addition to the development of nations around the world. Hopefully, the boys and staff at Mfantsipim School will take on addressing this question with me during my stay.
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