Independence Square, Accra, Ghana. President Obama spoke here during his visit to the West African Country last spring. I was amazed at the vastness of this public space - the wide concrete expanse of the square echoes the Atlantic Ocean, just beyond the edge of the stadium.
Children at the Anani International Memorial School. Public schools in Ghana are extremely underfunded, and what little funds there are are allotted unequally. Many Ghanaians cannot afford the school fees. The aim of this particular school, which is located near Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is to accept any child that needs an education, regardless of income level. Augustana students fundraised and gifted part of the proceeds of that fundraising to this school to help maintain the facilities. The beautiful braids of this young girl caught my eye during the celebration that followed the presentation of the monetary gift.
Larabanga mosque is one of the oldest mosques in West Africa, dating to sometime in the early 15th century. Located in the preodominately Islamic Northern Region of Ghana, this historic place of worship is home to a holy Koran that is believed to have descended from heaven.
Easter is the most celebrated holiday in Ghana, serving not only as a religious
holiday but also as a symbol of social action – Jesus can rise and so can we –
and I was lucky enough to attend service at a cathedral in Kumasi, the capital city
of the Asante people, the largest ethnic group in Ghana. In the days leading up
to Easter Sunday, it is customary to wear mourning cloths, lamenting the death of
Jesus. Traditional Ghanaian mourning cloths are generally some combination of
white, black, and red. The color white symbolizes spirituality, black sadness, and
red anger. However, Easter is a day of great celebration, when Ghanaians trade
their mourning colors for bright clothes. I was in search of an appropriately vibrant dress to wear to mass on Easter, and so was wandering the Kumasi market, attempting to find the perfect outfit. This woman was eating the popular Ghanian dish fufu (a sticky ball of pounded yam floating in soup and eaten with the hands) and she stopped me to invite me to eat with her.
My host brother, sitting in the window sill of the school house his family owns, the city of Kumasi sprawling behind him and images of Chicago held in his hands.
My little host sister, who distrusted me the first day I was staying with her family but followed me everywhere by the second day. Though she was very talkative in her native language Twi, she was extremely shy about testing her English on me, so for the most part she observed me quietly and grabbed my hand whenever possible.
My host sister and her daughter - a typically humid and hot late afternoon in Kumasi.
Elmina Castle, in Cape Coast, Ghana. Once a hub of the transcontinental slave trade, this castle now serves as a stark reminder of not only Ghana's history, but the history of the United States as well. Beyond the castle wall, colorfully painted fishing boats are just visible, and an intense soccer match was occuring just bellow me on the beach when I took this photo.
A view of the Atlantic from a look-out portal in the battlements of Elmina Castle.
Two young men, contemplating the sea while eating lunch in Cape Coast, Ghana.
The Sahel is a narrow strip or semi-arid land that skirts the edge of the Sahara.
It has been a mingling point of cultures for centuries, and Senegalese culture
reflects this mingling. 94% Islamic, Senegal is French-speaking
and home to the city Dakar, often referred to as the Paris of West Africa.
However, Senegal is also extremely impoverished. Living conditions are
exacerbated by ever-advancing desertification due in large part to unsustainable
agricultural practices and poor access to education – roughly only 40% of the
population is literate, and the majority of this percentage is concentrated in
urban areas, such as Dakar or St. Louis. We camped in the Sahel. I was expecting to rough it, sleeping on the ground with
maybe a blanket and a mosquito net. Much to my surprise, our campsite was
luxurious, boasting tents on raised platforms with running water and
a fully stocked bar just a few yards away. The desert was incredibly reflective,
sand color keeping pace with the movement of the sun.
This monument, revealed in early April 2010, was created as part of Senegal's African Renaissance movement, but is extremely controversial, as this multi-million dollar project was finaced primarily by public coffers in a country where electricity and water supply is uncertain and where the majority of food must be imported.