Ghana is a West African nation home to 26 million people. Its history, rich culture, wildlife & political stability make it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Kasoa (the program site) is a semi-urban town driven by its agricultural & fishing industries. Kasoa is located just one hour away from the capital city of Accra & enjoys year round sunshine. Read more to see why we chose the beautiful nation of Ghana as our program site! 


Muhammad Ali & Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, 1964

Muhammad Ali & Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, 1964

history

Numerous kingdoms & empires emerged over the centuries in Ghana, the most famous being the Ashanti Empire which boasted an advanced society, sophisticated economy, powerful military & elaborate architecture.  European contact began with the gold trade in the 15th century & expanded to the trading of human beings which would continue for the next 300 years. With former president, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana became the first African nation to gain independence in 1957. Ghana was an integral part of the Pan-African movement of the 60's and 70's & has been a place of cultural & political refuge for many African-Americans including W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, MLK, Malcolm X, Nina Simone & more. Since colonialism, slavery & the Civil Rights Movement, Ghana has had a unique relationship with the United States making it a fascinating place for academic study. 

 
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PEOPLE

Ghana is home to over 100 tribes including the Ashanti, Fanti, Kwahu, Ewe, Hausa, Guan Mosi, Dagomba and many more. Differences in spirituality, art, language and dress can be seen between each group, making Ghana a culturally vibrant and ethnically diverse country.  Kasoa is traditionally home to the Gomoa and Awutu tribes who belong to the Akan ethnic group. Gas, Mostries, Basares and other smaller tribes can also be found in Kasoa. 

 
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Language

Over 250 languages are spoken in Ghana. English is the nation's official language used in classroom instruction & governmental affairs. While other major languages include Twi, Fante, Ga, Hausa, Dagbani, Ewe and Nzema. SSSA students will take classes in Twi which is a tonal language, rich in proverbs. 

 
Peanut soup with chicken and fufu

Peanut soup with chicken and fufu

Food

Ghanaian dishes are often flavorful soups and stews centered around a starch component. The main ingredient for most soups is tomato making many Ghanaian dishes orange or red in color. Starches include kokonte (cooked cassava meal), banku (fermented corn dough), fufu (pounded plantain, cassava or yam) and rice. Chicken, goat, beef, fish peanuts, ginger are popular ingredients in Ghanaian cuisine. Many dishes are eaten by hand and it is customary to use ones right hand when eating. 

 
Larabanga Mosque, Ghana

Larabanga Mosque, Ghana

RELIGION

Religious tolerance is very high in Ghana. Christianity and Islam are the major religious groups found in Ghana with roughly 70% of the country belonging to different Christian denominations and 15% practicing Islam. Approximately 10% of Ghanaians practice traditional African religions. While Buddhism, Rastafarianism, Hinduism and other belief systems can be found amongst the other 5% of the country. 

 
Traditional Kente cloth of the Akan people of Southern Ghana

Traditional Kente cloth of the Akan people of Southern Ghana

DRESS

Ghana is famous for its vibrant textiles and colorful fabrics. During special occasions, events and ceremonies women can be seen wearing large headdresses with tailored blouses and long skirts. While men can be seen in traditional garments made of large fabrics that often drape over the shoulder. However, on a daily basis, people dress far more casual. Daily attire is similar to that in the United States though women tend to dress more conservatively in Ghana. 

 
Forest canopy at Kakum National Park near Cape Coast

Forest canopy at Kakum National Park near Cape Coast

 

GEOGRAPHY

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea and has an Atlantic coastline that stretches over 350 miles. Located only a few degrees north of the equator, Ghana enjoys year round sunshine with two main seasons: wet and dry. Ghana is mostly tropical however, the climate becomes more desert-like father north. The harmattan, a dry desert wind, blows across West Africa (from the Sahara Desert into the Gulf of Guinea) from December to March causing cooler temperatures.  Ghana is abundant in natural minerals such as gold, diamonds, bauxite, and timber. 

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POLITICS

Ghana is a democratic country led by president, Nana Akufo-Addo, who is both head of state and head of government. Ghana engages in a multi-party system which, together, oversees its ten regions: Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West Volta and Western. Ghana's growing economic prosperity and strong political system have made it a regional power in West Africa. 

 
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Economy

The cedi (see-dee) is the currency of Ghana with an exchange rate of 4.25 cedis to 1 US dollar. Following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance, Ghana's economy is one of the strongest and fastest growing in Africa. Ghana imports mostly industrial supplies, consumer goods, services and foodstuffs while it exports include gold, diamonds, cocoa, timber, aluminum and manganese. 

 
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Transit

The most popular means of transportation in Ghana are trotros (shared minibuses) and dropins (taxis) . There are also larger buses that go city to city and operate on a timed schedule. Traffic in Ghana (particularly in the Accra area) can be very congested especially during rush hour.  Students are strongly encouraged to immerse in the local culture by taking trotros when possible. Taking a trotro can be a lively experience for foreigners as they differ from most forms of public transportation in the U.S. Trotro drivers often play music and passengers crowd together in the minivan, talking and catching up with one another. Students can also take taxis to and from their internship sites for a timely solo ride!