December 2012 Newsletter
Akwaaba! Welcome to the Ghana West Coast, the destination for an unforgettable tropical beach holiday off the beaten track
|West Coast – a unique destination
THE BEGGAR’S ROCK
The beggar’s rock is an ancient story that took place in the western coast of Ghana in a small village called Butre. This village has various tourist sites such as Beach resort, Fort Batenstein, a shrine called the beggars rock, which attracts lots of tourists and volunteers from all walks of life to this small village. One major attraction in Butre is the beggar’s rock which has an interesting story behind the name.
The beggar’s rock is a powerful shrine that the people of Butre honour and revere because of its importance. The story gives an account of a hungry beggar who walked on the street of Butre begging for food and water but no one had compassion on him. One faithful day, a woman had compassion on him and brought him home to give him a bowl of kenkey and water. On reaching home they realized that the kenkey had been eaten by a goat. The beggar sorrowfully went away, sat under a tree and wept all day. He tried sleeping but could not because he was seriously hungry, because he had lived for days without any food or water. This was indeed pathetic. He made up his mind to go to a neighbouring community to continue his search for food.
On his way, he saw a piece of sugar cane by the road side. He quickly picked and chewed it hastily; right beside the road was a big rock which had a piece of gold lying by it. The beggar surprised and excited, picked up the gold and run quickly back to the village. He showed the gold to one of the villagers who collected the gold in exchange for plenty of food. Since that day, anytime the beggar was hungry, he would go back to the rock weeping, and fortunately will always return home with a piece of gold, not knowing where it came from. As is his usual practice, he would exchange it for food. As a result of this exchange, many people in the village became rich and rich and rich beyond their imagination.
One day, he returned from the rock as usual, with a piece of gold. A good Samaritan saw him and gave him food. An unusual thing happened after that, instead of exchanging the gold for the food, he rather converted the gold into money. The beggar became extremely rich afterwards, built a house, bought new clothes and got married to a beautiful lady. They gave birth to a baby boy and named him ‘OBO’, which literally means rock. The beggar and his family made the rock a place of worship (shrine) until his death, thus the name ‘beggar’s rock’.
Today the rock has become one of the main tourist sites in Butre, attracting a sizable number of tourists to the area. Indeed ‘Beggar’s Rock’ is still impacting the lives of indigenes through fees charged and donations made by visitors.
|MEET WEST COAST
|Don’t miss in this season
FISHING AT DIXCOVE
Dixcove is one of the fishing communities along the west coast of Ghana and is divided into two: Upper and Lower Dixcove. Upper Dixcove is sited on a rocky cove with a natural harbour capable of accommodating small ships and fishing vessels, it is no surprise that the main occupation of the natives is fishing.
Aside the fascinating view and landscape of the town, one cannot miss the harbour that is bustling with activity. Colorful fishing boats line up the coast, adorned with flags and their catch and displayed ashore for potential buyers when they return from their fishing expedition.
As is common with all fishing communities, the men go to sea for days (3-7), leaving at dawn and bring back huge catches of assorted fish, while the women sort and prepare the catch for the market. Fishing is done throughout the week except for Tuesdays which is considered sacred in most fishing communities and fishermen use it to mend their boats and nets and prepare themselves for the next expedition.
August and September are the peak months on the fishing calendar and is characterized by high tides which draws in fish, but can be fatal to the fishermen. On a good day, a variety of fish including Tuna, shark, Dolphin, Cassava fish and salmon can be seen displayed at the harbor for sale.
Marketing and pricing of the commodity is the preserve of the women and they do this with style. Prices vary according to the type and size of fish and are always negotiable. A customer needs to develop the art of bargaining to have a good buy. Whereas tuna is priced from five to twenty Ghana Cedis, the price of shark ranges from ten to 150 Ghana Cedis depending on the size.
Patrons of the fishing harbour come from far and near; Foreigners and Ghanaians alike come from surrounding communities such as Butre, Akwidae, Aketenkye, Aboadze and as far as Takoradi and Tarkwa to buy fish.
Tourism has also contributed its quota to the success of the fishing industry at Dixcove, as the numerous hospitality and accommodation facilities in the Region patronize the fish products for their culinary services. Most local and continental dishes comprise of fish, and fish is therefore in high demand throughout the year. The harbour also serves as an attraction for both domestic and international tourists visiting the area.
Even though business might be good, all is not well with “fishing” at Dixcove. According to Richard Stevens, a fisherman and the Secretary to the Pre-Mix Fuel Committee, sales are not that impressive, since they often times have to sell the fish on credit to buyers due to lack of Cold stores. This also affects the community during the lean season as excess fish caught within the peak season cannot be stored for the lean season.
On his views about the impact of tourism in the community, he said tourism has not really impacted on the lives of the indigenes and sited environmental issues – poor sanitation, lack of waste bins and places of convenience, inaccessible road network to Lower Dixcove among other causes. He said these have prevented second time visits by tourists.
He also commented on the restriction to the Fort by the new management, who rarely allows visitation to the Fort.
He suggested the erection of a sea defense and places of convenience to avoid indigenes from using the beach for defecation and waste disposal; provision of adequate waste bins to improve on the sanitation in the community among others, to boost tourism and enable tourism impact positively on the community.
The fishermen dream of the day when their landing bay will be repaired to ensure safe landing and their female counterparts want to have a proper place to process and market their products.
With the influx of tourists and visitors to the region in recent times, it would be beneficial to develop the fishing industry at Upper Dixcove, to accelerate growth of the local economy through job creation and enhancement of productivity.
Before the advent of Homestays, visitors to the Western Region had to lodge in accommodation facilities similar to that in their country of origin, thus depriving them of the acclaimed hospitality and the feel of the indigenous Ghanaian culture in the local community, the much needed jobs and the rippling effects of tourism.
The impact of tourism on local communities has thus not been felt by the indigenous people, in that visitors/tourists spend money in the city where they lodge depriving host communities of the much needed income through the creation of jobs. The Homestay concept was adopted by the Westcoast Destination Management Authority (DMA) to minimize the above stated concerns.
Homestay is a form of tourism program that allows the visitor to rent a room from a local family to learn the local lifestyle and language of the community in which they live. Some countries encourage homestays as a means of developing their tourism industry through cultural exchanges. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Homestays cannot be regarded as strictly commercial activity, but more of a cross cultural exchange and can range from a completely immersive family experience to a very basic room rental.
In the immersive family experience, the visitor lives, eats and shares the majority of their time with the host family, whiles at the other end of the spectrum, visitors simply rent a room within a private home with minimal interaction with the host family. In both instances, the exchange of cultures builds strong bonds of friendship which normally lasts for a lifetime.
Living in a family unit also ensures that money spent by visitors in the local community benefits the indigenes to some extent. The local economy receives a boost through the goods and services patronized by visitors.
The program has proved to be a good concept that has helped in poverty eradication and job creation in the rural areas where it is practiced.
Madam Sabina Boston is a beneficiary of the home stay project. She started operating a Homestay in1996 from a humble beginning and has expanded her facility over the years to five (5) guest rooms, a kitchen/storeroom, a bar and a provisions store. She has three permanent employees assisting in the operation of the facility. According to her, tourism has helped increase her revenue from visitor arrivals, thereby booming her business.
Festivals and tourism related events attract a lot of tourists to the area with its subsequent need for accommodation. The Homestay now serves as a regular alternative source of income in addition to her provisions store.
Tourists from all over the world patronize her place, with her customers, (backpackers and student volunteers) mostly from Germany, United States of America, Australia and France, who normally spend three to four days per visit. The holiday period – April to November is the peak season for her business, which is fully booked during this period.
Among challenges in her home stay business is: the rough and unruly behavior of some of her customers, drunkenness and tampering with fittings and installations in the rooms and other illicit activities.
Lack of connected pipe borne water also hampers her business, and is planning to find a way around it.
These problems notwithstanding, the project has been a good initiative and she plans to expand her facility in the near future.
Like Sabina Guesthouse, the Westcoast DMO Homestay concept has been beneficial to her, as well as the community at large, and needs to be encouraged and replicated in other communities.
Sofia Seamstress Cape 3 Points
Sophia is above all, a hard working woman. After finishing her primary education and not having enough money to afford further studies, she opted to develop her technical skills on sewing and started working.
With her husband´s help she started her own business, sawing and making dresses for her neighbours.
Her studies and years of training have given her a high level of performance.
Located in the small village of Cape 3 Points she spends many hours in front of her sewing machine, just only taking the necessary break to feed her 3 children and attend the house chores , or farming when the time is due..
In 2010 she applied for the microcredit program implemented by Ricerca e Cooperazione (RC) on the framework of the Ghana West Coast project. She was selected for the loan support and with the money provided she has been able to expand her business. She is happy about how things are going and she is already thinking about the future. First to diversify her production by designing bags, wallets for tourists and then start a training school to provide skills to the young ladies in the community.
Asabaako! Ghana Music Festival
Asabaako is an annual 3-day festival, carnival and party on Busua Beach, in Ghana's Western Region. Launched in March 2011, the next event has been confirmed for Farmers' Day Weekend, December 2-4 2011.
Asabaako aims to become one of the world's great international festivals, but is first establishing its roots firmly in Busua and Ghana's Western Region. Alongside international guest DJs, Asabaako is providing a platform for under-supported artists and DJs in Ghana and West Africa, offering people in the region the opportunity to hear the music they love, alongside African-inspired music from around the world.
HOW TO GET THERE
By private vehicle
At the Kwame Nkrumah Roundabout (a.k.a. Agip Roundabout) on the outskirts of Takoradi, take the first right turn (at the side of the Goil Station). This is the Agona/Tarkwa/Elubo road. Go straight for 30 minutes, until you reach the roundabout at Agona. At the roundabout, take the left turn. After 15 minutes, you'll see a junction on the left, with a lot of signboards for hotels in Busua and Butre. Turn left at that junction, and drive straight for 5 minutes, until you get to Busua.
From Accra, take the highway that leads to Cape Coast and Takoradi. Takoradi is approximately four hours from Accra, and one hour from Cape Coast.
From Kumasi, you can either take the road to Cape Coast - via Yamoransa, and continue from Cape Coast to Takoradi; or you can drive directly to Takoradi, passing through Tarkwa, Bogoso and Obuasi.
By public transport
From Takoradi - go to West End (near Tarkwa station, by the STC bus terminal), or the Goil petrol station at Kwame Nkrumah Roundabout (also known as 'Agip' roundabout). Ask for a tro-tro to Agona. From here, Busua is a 20 minute drive. Tro-tros are available but you can also take a shared car or taxi. A hired taxi should cost around 20 – 30GHC from Takoradi to Busua.
From Accra – Go via Takoradi. To reach Takoradi, either take an STC coach (from the STC terminal on Ring Road West, near Kwame Nkrumah Circle), or a private minibus, coach or tro-tro from Kaneshie. The average price for a one-way journey to Takoradi is GH¢ 7.00, and the journey lasts four hours. You can also take a number of other coaches from Neoplan Station, by Kwame Nkrumah Circle, including VVIP buses.
From Kumasi - take an STC coach or air conditioned mini bus to Takoradi and take transport to Busua from there (directions above).