We planned our trip over a month ago! The excitement of my cousin and I in Ghana together always brought cheeky giggles to our Skype conversations while I was in Brazil.
And now reality is here! We’re both in Ghana!
Salvador da Bahia!
Historically known as the “City of the Holy Saviour of the Bay of all Saints”. Brazil’s vibrant Afro-Brazilian capital, renowned for its positive energy (which by the way is contagious) and happy people, has had an immense impact on me since my arrival earlier this year. So to say goodbye not just to the city I’ve grown so accustomed to, but also a culture I open-heartedly connected with, is like parting ways with a close friend… Unsure of when we’ll next meet again.
I couldn’t leave Salvador without compiling a list of places to visit!
I put the honour of recommendations in the capable hands of Maria Araújo; the social media coordinator for the Secretary of Culture of Bahia. Maria is no stranger to my blog. During the carnival I had the privilege of meeting her at the Pelourhino press office.
Young, ambitious and a social media expert, Maira is equipped with an in-depth knowledge of the city of Salvador. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate person to spend my last day in Salvador with, fondly discussing highlights and hidden gems of the city.
Starting in the middle of Palácio Rio Branco and finishing with Sorveteria Cubana ice creme in Pelhourinho, Maira shared with me some of her favourite places in the city she lives and works in.
From delicious Bahian food to inspecting modern art, this list is an exciting and varied compilation of ‘must-dos’ in Salvador! Add a few to your daily plans during your trip to get the most out of your visit to this diverse and mystical city.
MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna)
“This museum is stunning inside and out!
It has an amazing view of the bay, a really neat restaurant with a
pier. On saturday evenings they have a jazz session outside where
you can enjoy good music, cheap and delicious drinks and food, and
Ice-cream in Ribeira
“Ribeira is a nice and old neighborhood of
fishermen in the suburbs of Salvador, and there you can have the best
ice-cream in town at Sorveteria da Ribeira! Take your time choosing
your flavors and don’t feel shy to ask to taste the most intriguing
ones. The list is pretty long and the fun of going there is to have a
taste of the diversity they offer.”
Drinking Jatobá at O Cravinho –
“This is where my coworkers and I go
for happy hour every once in a while. It’s a little hole in the wall
type of bar called “O Cravinho” in Pelourinho, and they serve the most
unusual drink mixes and to-die-for fried shrimp! The most famous
drink, called Cravinho, is a 2 reais shot infusion of cloves.
It’s pretty strong and after the third one you’ll see the world
spinning, so pace yourself! My favorite one is Jatobá, which is a
little sweeter and not as strong, but the fun part about going there is
trying all sorts of drink mixes and making your own list of favourites!”
Bahian Food at Axego
“This is absolutely my favorite restaurant in
Pelourinho! You can come here any day and everything is always
delicious. But on Fridays they serve Bahian food and it’s divine (and
also quite cheap, a plate costs around 14 reais and it can be easily
shared for 2 people).”
Acarajé de Dinha in Rio Vermelho –
“Everyone here has a strong opinion
about which acarajé is the best in Salvador, but let me tell you, the
best overall experience of eating a good acarajé, drinking a beer and
having a good time is at Dinha! The acarajé stand is in the center of a region
filled with bars in Rio Vermelho, our most bohemian
neighborhood. You’ll find tourists, workers enjoying their happy hour,
students, and old folk playing domino on the street. This is where
everyone meets and enjoy life in their own way.”
And just incase 5 isn’t enough… Here’s an extra 4 to keep you busy!
Sorveteria Cubana –
“I’m a big ice-cream fan, can you tell? Cubana has
great ice-cream, low prices and 2 stores in Pelourinho! I highly
recommend the fruity flavors (açai, graviola, cupuaçu, cajá, maracujá,
Palácio Rio Branco –
“It’s a historic building full of amazing stories
and a place i’m very proud to come to work everyday! If you come to
visit Pelourinho, it’s right next to Elevador Lacerda and you can even
have a free tour with a guide who’ll tell you all there is to know about
it while you enjoy a very privileged view of the bay.”
Shopping at Barroquinha –
“If you like a great bargain and don’t mind
all that human contact you get while walking on a busy street, come
here! It’s down the street from Pelourinho and is where real
Soteropolitanos (people born in Salvador) go shopping. You can find
leather goods, clothes and souvenirs way cheaper than in Pelourinho!”
A swim at Porto da Barra –
“I’m really not that fond of going to the
beach, but this one is lovely even if it’s just to drive by. It’s
filled with people from Salvador and tourists and you’ll get a feel of
the city without the whole ‘buy this, buy that’ stuff that happens
while walking around Pelourinho. Warning: during the weekends it can
get pretty full, so if you don’t appreciate spending half an hour
looking for a an empty spot to put down your ‘canga’, go on
For more information on Salvador and Bahia check out the following Secretary of Culture, Ba sites:
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of accompanying Nana Obuobi I, Queen Mother of Meyera, Greater Accra, to her organised event of invited speakers to give a talk to the local community of Amasaman and neighbouring towns of Ga West district on How to prevent unsafe abortion.
The talk on abortion-related maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana was sponsored by non-profit organisation IPAS Ghana, through NGO Hope for Future Generations who’s representative was present; Project Co-ordinator Mildred Komey.
IPAS Ghana provided funding for a selected number of Queenmothers from Greater Accra, Eastern and Ashanti regions to provide workshops on such subjects in a grave effort to considerably reduce mortality rates which are staggeringly high in these regions. Queenmothers have a considerable amount of influence in their communities, hence their being a wise choice for dissemination of information on the topic.
As we entered the Methodist church hall were the event would take place, a few early birds sat patiently waiting, and I was left wondering if the hall with a capacity for at least 100 people would fill up. Just how important was Nana Obuobi’s message to the local community? The proof would be in the result of getting a full house.
Maternal morbidity is on the rise and much of it is due to the unsafe abortion methods local communities are accustomed to. Nana Obuobi’s message to draw in an audience was simple yet direct; it could be your own daughters, sisters or school friends being affected. This issue relates to both men and women. It was very good to see young men in the audience enthusiastic to participate.
And thankfully, despite a late start, the community came out in their numbers. The target capacity of 100 people of the local community was exceeded. Roughly 150 people consisting of mothers with their babies, school children and groups, young men and local workers were amongst the audience attentively listening to what had to be said about the serious issue of our young girls dying at an alarming rate.
Nana Obuobi I gave the welcome address and explained abortion and unsafe abortion to the audience whilst emphasising the magnitude of abortions in Africa, Ghana and their own communities in Ga West municipality.
“Teenage pregnancies and abortion related maternal morbidity and mortality are very prevalent in our communities and it is the biggest neglected tragedies. Most of these deaths are preventable and we need to take affirmative action and show compassion and provide safe abortion care including post comprehensive abortion.”
Nana told the audience.
Maternal mortality and maternal mobility in Ghana has been a concern to the Government and many NGO’s in the country. The Millennium Development Goal highlighted an emphasis on this matter, the target being 2015 to witness a dramatic decline in the current high rates across Africa; Ghana in particular.
One of the NGO’s making a brave effort towards this target is IPAS Ghana. They provided training to highly motivated Queenmothers who shared the same concern to help create awareness and educate their communities.
“We Queenmothers have been requested to disseminate the information given to us, to our people in our various communities in order for them to be aware of what is happening in Ghana and the world at large.”
Nana Oboubi I told me.
A role play by local drama group ATAC (Act To Achieve A Change) engaged the audience visually and brought home the sad reality; young girls are dying at an alarming rate because they are putting their hopes in various dangerous concoctions of ‘home-made’ abortion.
Nurse Fati Asigri from Amasaman Health Centre spoke to encourage the audience to be knowledgeable about the safe abortion methods offered by local hospitals. She also spoke about family planning and how the service can help women from getting unwanted pregnancies.
Nurse Fati, who the audience addressed as Aunty Fati clearly answered the questions from audience in both english and twi. Another nurse was at hand to translate into Ga. Some questions included worrisome concerns including myths and “hear-say” about family planning methods being irreversible and concerns about confidentiality. Aunty Fati clarified that local hospitals offer a variety of family planning methods to suit the individual in addition to confidential advice.
There was also a strong emphasis on the use of condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancies. I was really impressed to see that the local young men had theirs handy as they waved them to the audience as proof that they are at least aware they should be strapping it on.
Mildred Komey from Hope for Future Generation gave a closing speech about the NGO’s activities. She said their focus was on young females, health and education. Hence the well thought out collaboration which coincides with the talk on female mortality. Her parting words again, placing strong emphasis on the importance of using a condom as she urged women, were;
“If your man says he doesn’t know how to wear a condom – you have to strap it on for him!”
Naturally she won the audience over with her closing words. Basically there is no excuse for not using a condom!
It’s evident that such workshops make a big difference in communities were there is a lack of resources. The participants expressed their zeal to pass on what they had learnt to their peers and community members who were absent.
In my opinion, such workshops should be held more regularly and I urge funders to expand budgets to increase participation as well as greatly improve the workshops. I saw first-hand how much effort goes into preparing such workshops and I commend Nana Obuobi, other Queenmothers, Cheifs and all those involved for their efforts.
Nana Obuobi is also president for Ga West Queenmothers Association.
Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) www.hffg.org
Do parties and crowds fill you with energy, or send you scurrying for peace and quiet? (Daily Prompt).
Gosh I’ve missed my daily dose of ‘Daily Prompt’ inspiration courtsey of wordpress.com! Apologies for my long absence regular readers… Hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉
Returning to London- ‘back to reality’ was a little bumpy to say the least. And unlike waking up every morning with the sunrise as I did in Brazil, getting out of bed in the freezing cold was a struggle. So it’s no surprise the weather also froze any source of motivation for me to get out
of bed my laptop!
But I’m back in the swing of things now! I’m thoroughly defrosting in Accra! A city never short of events and parties to get some energy following in me again.
Today’s Daily Prompt about parties, crowds and energy (and something else about scurrying for peace and quiet- whatever that means!) couldn’t have been more appropriate!
So I’ll cut to the chase. Yes, I do love a good party with a positive crowd! And for me a good party is a concoction of interesting people to network with (says the journalist within me), good music to dance to (says me), and a few cocktails to help get into the swing of things- always drinking responsibly (says both journalist within and me)!
Accra is the ideal social scene!
After being in Brazil for 3 months and not once wearing any of the three (though I wanted to take more) pairs of heels I squeezed into my suitcase replacing other necessities, it’s good to be in Accra were I’ve already towered over crowds at events and parties during the weekend!
Admitably, there are days where I appreciate the tranquility of my home and no amount of convincing will get me out of the house (unless you’re very good at persuading) 😉
Look out for pics on parties and events I’ll be attending in the following weeks… Welcome to Accra!
But first- #throwback!
Some of my favourite party, crowd, energy moments from last year and further back!
In the summer of 2006 I packed a suitcase for a three week holiday in Accra. Filled with excitement and pride from buying my own flight ticket, I set off on my first solo journey. I’ve been coming to this city since childhood. While my peers at school went with their families on new and exciting voyages, our holidays were always to see family in Ghana… Armed with our overweight and excess luggage suitcases you could spot us a mile off!
This time would be different. I had no intention of packing the whole house and the kitchen sink! Just enough necessities for a comfortable three week break.
Little did I know fate had other plans for me…
Three weeks turned into almost a year! Despite many difficult and frustrating times; ‘light-off’, water shortages, lack of pavements for pedestrians, timing issues (to name just a few), I have fond memories of my first Independent trip to Ghana. Without my immediate family around me for support, I learnt some of my most valuable survival skills I carry with me to this day.
Unfortunately I was unaware of the growing blogosphere! How interesting it would have been to blog about my experiences during that time; barely 20 years old, seeking my opportunities in modelling and radio broadcasting. Making the city of my parents my own. Planting my own roots.
That’s perhps why almost seven years on, I keep coming back to Accra.
Trip down memory lane…
Accra 2006 Tinny, Mensa and friends
Egypt 2007 with TOPModelGH winner and runners up
Modelling at GH@50
Presenting an award to a bodybuilder 😉
First issue of Oh Yes magazine
Good times at Rema’s (Osu)
Picture with (Batman) Samini
Modelling Kaba and Silt designed by Makeba L. Boateng
PhotoClub shoot at the beach
Good times 😉
Ghana is developing fast.
The proof is most definitely evident in its diverse social scene. From music to art, restaurants to hotels, Ghana is certainly making a statement with its capital city Accra as the show piece for the world to view.
In less than 24 hours of stepping off the plane at Kotoka International Airport, I landed an invite by Ghana Contemporary to Kaleidoscope art exhibition sponsored by Grey Goose on the 15th March. An event which would fast forward me to the reality of the rate which my heritage city Accra is moving at.
Gone are the traditional conventions of gallery viewings held solely indoors and usually saved for a rainy day. Accra is all about making a statement. And what better way than to fuse art into the bustling social scene that Accra is rapidly creating?
The setting for the exhibition was indeed ideal; the scenic settings of La Villa Boutique Hotel- ‘Accra’s Crown J of Comfort and Style.’ Off the beaten tourist track of Osu Oxford Street, lies hidden the luxury haven. A unique showcase of some of Ghana’s best elements came together that night to form a trendy social vibe; bold statement art surrounded by creative exterior design.
I’m honoured to have experienced the future of Ghanaian contemporary art, courtesy of premier fine art dealership- Ghana Contemporary LTD. A well throughout exhibition which wouldn’t be out of place in major cities such as London, New York and Paris to name a few. The face behind Ghana Contemporary LTD is Finnish born Leeni Ojaniemi. Despite many clients demanding her attention, Leeni was hospitable on my arrival to the exhibition and offered brief background of the exhibition. I was impressed with her passion for the subject so I asked if she also paints. Flashing her signature bright smile, the response was no, however Leeni studied History of Art in London. With her passion and knowledge of art, it’s no wonder Kaleidoscope exhibition was a success!
“There is a lack of support for contemporary artists, therefore some of the artists have a lot of talent but they have stopped working to produce beautiful art because the support system isn’t there and they are not able to make sales or become known in the business.”
Leeni told showbiz.peacefmonline.com earlier this month.
The colourful canvases of eight talented artists were viewed by an elite crowd of Accra’s modern art conscious society. Expats and locals came together to appreciate ‘a unique journey through some of the finest Ghanaian contemporary art.’
Thoughtfully spaced out on the first floor terrace of the hotel, each painting told a different story. A dynamic fusion of abstract and realism yet with an underlining theme in social context making each piece relatable to the audience.
I stayed behind a while longer… I confess the complimentary drinks might have had some influence however it didn’t divert my attention away from the art even after the crowd started to fade.
And I guess it paid off when one of my ultimate favourite Ghanaian TV personalities, Chris Attoh showed his presence- fashionably late!
The acclaimed Ghanaian actor, tv presenter, film maker and CEO of aFACTORY entertainment, was all smiles as I he got a quick view of the paintings before they were taken down. As the event drew to a close, I diverted Chris’ attention onto other priorities on my mind… There was no way I was letting Mr Attoh leave without exclusive news on his future projects. He reassured me a personal interview. And I reassured him; I’ll hold him to that!
And for the future of Ghana Contemporary?
For now Ghana Contemporary continues to offer private viewings at the showroom at Villaggio and specializes on corporate collection building according to popular demand. Future exhibition plans are already brewing and they continue to take place in Accra – and hopefully sooner or later outside Ghana too.
Contemporary is continuing its Arts Column monthly on Enjoy Accra Magazine. If you haven’t already picked up a free copy, what are you waiting for? Or why go online to www.enjoyaccra.com and check out Leeni’s interview with Ghanaian artist Larry Otoo whose work was also featured on the night. Keep an eye out for Leeni’s ventures to Europe soon, especially to follow 2 Ghana Contemporary artists’ participation in an exhibition in Barcelona in May.
So readers in Europe, look out for Ghana Contemporary coming your way!
For more information on Ghana Contemporary contact Leeni Ojaniemi:
+233 (0)235 840 0000
If you missed the gallery event, you can still view art work courtesy of Ghana Contemporary dotted around the beautiful settings of La Villa Boutique Hotel.
13th Lane, Ringway, Osu-Accra
+233 302 730 333
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.
Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?
(Daily Prompt by wordpress.com).
I first went to the Czech Republic in 2008 when a lovely family who have become like my own whenever I visit, agreed to a spontaneous ‘culture exchange’ experience (think along the story line of The Holiday featuring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz)!
Rollerblading across the border into Germany, rock climbing, hiking in snow, and skiing are just some of the things I get up when I visit. Not bad for a city girl 😉
It’s no wonder I keep going back for more!
So I thought I’d use today’s Daily Prompt- Places, to reminisce on some of my best moments in the Czech Republic on a few of my visits.
Expect Mountains, Forests… and I even managed to find a beach in a land-locked country!!
Have you ever had a ‘culture exchange’ that made you keep going back for more?…