In 2005 I had the unique opportunity to travel to the nation of Ghana in West Africa. I had been invited by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Godfried Williams, to be the keynote speaker at an information technology conference in the capital city of Accra. The conference was the 1st International Conference on Advances in Information and Communication Engineering held in August 2005 at the behest of the Ghanaian government. My topic was “Bridging the Digital Divide: Linking and Closing the Gap between Advanced and Developing Economies.”
My friends were already traveling separately to Ghana, so I began my longest trip to that date alone. The incipient journey was almost 24 hours long – and came close to being longer. I left Louisville, KY where I live and flew to the Northwest hub in Detroit. Unfortunately there was a delay in Detroit for my flight to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to catch a flight by KLM to Heathrow in London. Because of the delay I missed my original connecting flight, but was fortunate enough to catch the next one and just made it to London Heathrow in time to catch my flight to Accra in Ghana. If I had missed this flight, I would have had to lay over in London for a day to catch the next British Airways flight to Accra. Surprisingly enough when I finally landed in Accra with the many connections and delays, all of my checked bags made it through!
On our arrival to the Accra airport leaving the plane was like a trip back to the 1950’s with a roll up ramp the means of egress. I would discover later that the departure flight would be through a more modern up to date part of the airport. I had met a Catholic nun on the plane and walked with her into the terminal. I was relieved to find my friends waiting for me outside of the luggage pickup for incoming flights.
Ghana was the first European colony to be granted independence in 1957. While under British colonial control, it was called the Gold Coast, based on its being part of an early Sudanese empire from the 4th to 10th centuries. The area is actually made up of a number of different kingdoms of which the main two are the Fanti and Ashanti kingdoms. English is the official language, but over 76 languages and dialects are spoken within the borders of the country. Ghana was a center of both the gold and slave trades. The country is predominantly Christian with a Muslim presence mainly in the North as well as tribal religions.
Ghana is a member of ECOWAS (The Economic Community of West African States) which is comprised of 15 countries, 8 are French speaking, 5 English speaking and 2 speak Portuguese. More detailed information can be found on both the ECOWAS web site and in the travel patrol destination guide.
This provides a backdrop for a series of articles on my adventures in Ghana and the remarkable people that I met in the two weeks that I spent there. Watch for additional articles here in the Guest Patrol.
August 30, 2013