Accra is the capital city of Ghana, and not exactly a travel destination on everyone’s bucket lists, however I thought I would write a small blog on Accra, as I know several people that have travelled to Accra with work and volunteering for various charities over there. I have also read lots of articles recently saying that Ghana is now becoming an up and coming tourist destination.
Working as cabin crew I am lucky enough to travel all over the world and to places I wouldn’t necessarily travel to in my own personal life. These sort of destinations I always love though, I love experiencing new places and meeting new people from all walks of life.
I have been lucky enough to travel to Accra many times over the years with work, at one time I used to go there so regularly it started to feel like a second home. Accra isn’t the safest of places to visit and not somewhere I could freely go and explore, as the airline I work for advise us not to leave the hotel, so on many trips I would sit by the hotel pool. I have been out in Accra on several occasions but always made sure I went with a group of colleagues, and we had a taxi to take us and paid a little extra for the taxi driver to wait for us, and on one occasion asked him to escort us around the market which the hotel organised for us.
Like many African cities I have been to before, Accra is very busy and congested with lots going on everywhere you look, I imagine there is a lot more to Ghana than what Accra has to offer, I have heard Ghana is meant to be a beautiful country once you leave the hustle and bustle of the capital and get out into the countryside.
Sights & Activities
Centre for National Culture
The Centre for National Culture is a craft market which is aimed towards tourists and showcases many local arts and handiworks from wooden sculptures, ornaments, paintings, traditional Ghanaian clothing and bags and everything in between.
I really enjoyed the small and friendly market and as it caters for tourists I found all the stall owners really friendly and were up for a laugh and a joke. If you want to pick up a souvenir or handmade trinket this is a great market to stop off at and it’s also providing an income for the local people.
The Independence Square is the second largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and its located in the centre of Accra. It is home to Independence Arch, Black Star Gate, lots of seating, Ghanaian flags and statues which all commemorate Ghana gaining independence from Britain back in 1957. We briefly stopped off here after visiting Jamestown.
Jamestown is a township within Accra and is situated on the coast and is one of the oldest districts in Accra. Jamestown also has lots of colonial remnants and a huge lighthouse as well as other historical landmarks. Jamestown is one of the poorest areas in the capital, and when I visited there it was a real eye opener into the third world.
I have travelled all over the world and seen how people live from all walks of life, Jamestown however is by far the worst living conditions I have witnessed people living in. People who live in Jamestown don’t have a lot and most of them live in m built up rubble and shacks. The sanitation conditions are not great and there doesn’t appear to be much running water, and there is a lot of rubbish everywhere.
I came to Jamestown to visit a school called The Noyaa Association. The school is set up to help children from poor families and street children in the area who are not enrolled in the Ghana education system, and to provide a basic level of education from reading and mathematics etc. I have visited Noyaa on several occasions and always take donations from clothes, books, toys and whatever else I can get hold of from people with children having a clear out. The airline that I work for allows us to take extra luggage if it’s for a charitable cause, which is fantastic as on one occasion when I visited I had that many donations I had 3 suitcases full!
The Noyaa Association does some fantastic work for these kids however they are in need of funding and materials, they make best of what they have. The school is a wooden structure that has lots of dividers up to divide the many different age groups. There are about 90 children all together with some children being as young as 3 and all ages in between up to 12 year olds.
Whenever I visit I normally drop them a message on their Facebook page and organise a time to visit to take donations and spend a bit of time with the younger children playing. It really is an amazing experience and the children are so sweet.
If you visit Jamestown try and visit the Noyaa Association with some donations for the children, or another charity in Jamestown as there is always help needed in the area.
Makola Market is the commercial hub of Accra and has a lot going on everywhere from traffic, lots of stalls and people running errands and carrying huge amounts of shopping and goods on their heads. It’s very busy and a bit chaotic, however I felt like I saw the real Accra with lots of hustle and bustle and street vendors trying to sell their wares. The market sells a whole range of items but mainly tends to be food, homewares and lots of African land snails which are cooked up in stews.
I’m glad I got to visit Makola Market as you can see the locals living their day to day lives. I would recommend not visiting here alone, and do not take anything valuable with you, if you can also see if you can get your hotel to arrange someone to escort you around the market, as this is what we did with our taxi driver and it just made us feel a little more at ease. Like most places it’s all about having an awareness of what’s going on around you.
I would recommend when visiting Ghana to leave any unnecessary valuables behind and to always have your wits about you when visiting, however when visiting also go with an open mind it is a bit of a culture shock but that being said you will also come across some of the most warm and friendly people around.