Central Region Your visit to Ghana wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the region which is known to be the heart beat of Ghana’s tourism. From the coastal plains in the south to the rolling forested hills of the north, the Central Region is a visual feast for the tourist. More than just physical beauty, the region provides an intimate view of the Ghanaian culture.
It is within the Central Region that you will discover the true lifestyle of the Ghanaian people embedded in the bustling fishing communities, historic forts and castles, posuban shrines, vibrant markets and colourful festivals. Approximately two hours drive west of Accra, Cape Coast, the capital of the Central Region is well prepared for your visit with classified accommodation and catering units, established tour operators, efficient transportation and a whole host of activities for you to enjoy.
The Central Region was historically part of the Western Region until 1970 when it was carved out just before the 1970 Population Census. It occupies an area of 9,826 square kilometres or 4.1 per cent of Ghana’s land area, making it the third smallest in area after Greater Accra and Upper East. The region was the first to make contact with the Europeans.
Its capital, Cape Coast, was also the capital of the Gold Coast until 1877, when the capital was moved to Accra.
The Central Region shares common boundaries with Western Region on the west, Ashanti and Eastern Regions on the north and Greater Accra Region on the east. On the south is the 168-kilometre length Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea) coastline. EDUCATION The region has two public Universities – University of Cape Coast and the University of Education, Winneba and two private universities – KAAF University College, Budumburam, Kasoa and the Pan African University College, Pomadze.
There also exist one polytechnic in the region, namely, the Cape Coast Polytechnic. The Cape Coast Metroplis has high grade educational institutions. ADMINISTRATION AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES Currently, there exist one (1) Metropolitan, six (6) Municipalities and thirteen (13) District Assemblies.
According to the 2010 census conducted by the Statistical Service, the region has a population of 2,201,863. The predominant industry in all districts except Cape Coast is agriculture (52.3%), followed by manufacturing (10.5%).
Agriculture (including fishing) is the main occupation and employs more than two thirds of the work force in many districts. Cocoa production is concentrated in Assin, Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira and Upper Denkyira Districts while oil palm production is mainly in Assin and Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira Districts.
Other major agricultural enterprises are citrus, pineapple and grain production. Fishing is concentrated mainly in the six coastal districts.
The region is predominantly Akan speaking (82.0%), followed by Guan (6.1%) and Ewe (4.8%). The Fantes, who are mainly along the coast, are the predominant group among the Akan (56.6%).
A number of small ethnic groups in the region (Mole Dagbon, Grusi; Gurma and Mande- Busanga), constituting 3.4 per cent of the population of the region, originate from the northern part of Ghana. ELECTRICITY/ HEALTH AND SECURITY Any electrical equipment that has 220-240VAC 50Hz input capability will work in Ghana and in the Central Region of course.
The region has close to twenty (20) health facilities within its Metropolis and about one hundred and forty two (142) health facilities found in the Municipal and District administrative areas of the region.
The region is relatively peaceful and tourists to the region have little to worry about in terms of their security.
Kakum National Park is one of the popular National Parks in Ghana characterised by its moist evergreen rainforest, the 375 sq.km National Park is situated about 30km north of Cape Coast, the Central Regional Capital and about 170km from Accra.
Kakum National Park is endowed with different and rare species of wildlife including 40 species of mammals, over 500 species of butterflies and a wide array of birds. Some of the species include the endangered monameekat, civet cats, yellow backed duiker, red river hog, pygmy elephants, buffalo, leopard, bongo, bee-eater and hornbills.
Kakum National has a long series of hanging bridges at the forest canopy level known as the “Canopy Walkway”, a major feature of the Kakum National Park. At about 30m in height, visitors can view species of plants and animals from a vantage point.
The Canopy Walkway passes over seven (7) bridges and covers a length of 350m. It is secured by series of nets and wires. Another feature is the sun bird trail developed to integrate 3 ecosystems including the rainforest, the secondary forest and a pond environment for visitors to watch birds. The park’s welcome centre is made up of a restaurant, a picnic area, a camping area and a wildlife education centre. It can be visited throughout the year.
Designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, the Cape Coast Castle is described as one of the six most beautiful in existence with a very rich history. Originally built by the Swedes in 1653 for commercial trading purposes between the natives and the European traders, the castle has been at various times controlled by the British, the Dutch, the Danes and the French.
The monument played an integral role during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade during which millions of slaves were shipped to the Americas. The Cape Coast Castle presents one with a comprehension and appreciation of the age of European exploration, interaction between Europeans, Africans and the Carribeans.
The ‘door of no return’ which for more than 100years opened to the certainty of a short and brutal life for the millions of Africans that were captured off these shores and sold into slavery, now opens to the serene and awesome vastness of the Atlantic ocean. On July 11, 2009 President Obama and his family were conducted round the castle on their inaugural presidential visit to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Another World Heritage Site, the Elmina Castle is located at Elmina, which is just 10km west of Cape Coast. Elmina happens to be the first point of contact between the Europeans and the inhabitants of Ghana, then Gold Coast.
In 1471, when a Don Diego d’ Azambuja led Portuguese expedition arrived, they referred to Elmina as “Mina de Ouro” meaning the gold mine because of the vast amount of gold and ivory they found. Trading was imminent and Elmina became the centre of a thriving trade in gold, ivory and slaves which were exchanged for cloth, beads, brass bracelets etc.
The Portuguese built the St. Georges Castle or Sao Jorge da Mina (now Elmina Castle) in 1482. The edifice covered an area of 97,000 sq ft becoming the earliest known European structure in the tropics. As trade buoyed, it attracted other Europeans and a struggle for control ensued. The Dutch eventually captured the castle and remained in its control for the next 235 years.
On 6th April, 1872, the castle was ceded to the British. It has served as a police recruit centre and a secondary school in the past. Elmina Castle has a gift shop and tour guides are available to willingly offer their services daily.
BRENU AKYINIM BEACH
Brenu Akyinim Beach is located between the villages of Ankwanda and Brenu Akyinim. It is sited at about 20km west of Cape Coast, off the Cape Coast – Takoradi highway. It’s a 3-kilometre fabulous stretch of pristine palm-fringed, sandy beach where the water is clean providing an ideal site for swimming, surfing, skiing and sun bathing.
It’s an excellent site for picnic and beach sports (i.e. football and volleyball). There is also a peaceful lagoon nearby, a winter home of hundreds of migratory birds.
ASSIN MANSO HERITAGE SITE
Assin Manso Heritage Site is located about 40km north of Cape Coast. Assin Manso is renowned for the inhuman activity meted out to people during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade era.
Slaves brought from the interior parts of the country were rested, bathed, sorted out and re- sold, before transported via the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles to waiting ships bound for the Americas. The Slave River or “Nnonkonsuo” happens to be the major feature of the Assin Manso Slave Market Site.
While at this Site, visitors can visit the tombs of two slaves, Samuel Carson and Crystal whose skeletal remains were returned from the United States of America and Jamaica respectively in 1998 for re- internment in Ghana.
Other land marks include a Prayer Hall and grassy Meditation lawn. The banks of the Slave River are shaded by tall bamboo trees with rest benches available for visitors to relax and reflect on the tribulation of the salve trade.
FORT ST. JAGO
The present location of the fort used to be a small Portuguese Chapel. By the 1660s, the Dutch had constructed a permanent fort to provide military protection to the castle and also serve as disciplinary institution for European convicts, unlike other forts that were used for trading activities.
Strategically located within a walking distance from the Elmina Castle, it provided the Dutch the opportunity to launch successful land attacks on the Elmina Castle. After 1872, its English owners added some alterations such as a second floor to the main building allowing the fort to be put to some civilian uses. Recently, it was earmarked to be used as a prison, hospital and rest house.
Its location on a hill affords one an excellent view of Elmina Township and the Castle. The 19th Century Dutch Cemetery is located in the centre of Elmina near the “Posuban” Shrine (one will notice it by the life –size statues and high decorated façade).
As the name suggests, it was built in the 19th Century and it contains the graves of many former residents of the Castle. It also harbours the graves of individuals who were important to the local citizenry.
A mausoleum at the centre of the cemetery was reserved for the tombs of the Castle’s Governors.
Komenda Cave is located on the ocean shore, west of Komenda town. The Cave dominates a series of natural erosional features worn into the sandstone along the shore by sea.
Accessibility is made easy by stairs leading to the beach from the Komenda College grounds. The Cave is made up of a relatively narrow tunnel, open at both ends with a floor area of approximately 200sqm.
The passage is narrowed by rock debris and the low ceiling, limits the usage of the floor space. The mouth of the Cave opens to the west at the beach level and leads northeast, parallel to the shore.
The interior opening at the back (eastern end) of the cave is formed by the collapse of a portion of the Cave’s roof. The site provides some of the earliest evidence for human habitation in coastal Ghana according to archaeologists.
Ostrich Farm is located at Effutu Mampong about fourteen kilometers from Cape Coast on the Kakum National Park road. The ostrich is the world’s largest living bird belonging to the small order of birds known as Ratitae or running birds. The Ostrich can live up to between 30-70 years.
Tourist to the region, specifically Cape Coast will get the opportunity viewing crocodile at Hans Cottage Botel located along the Cape Coast Kakum National Park road.
Panafest is a biennial cultural event dedicated to the enhancement of the ideals of Pan- Africanism and the development of the Pan- African continent. It is evolving into a major Pan- African commemorative celebration manifesting the essential ideals of Pan-African unity as an indispensable foundation for the struggle for a total economic and political liberation and advancement of the Global African family.
It underscores the potential power of culture for a vigorous pursuit of a total political and economic independence of the Global African Family. Panafest is marked by wreath laying ceremonies, Pan–African Conference, durbar, trade fair / bazaar, visit to historic sites, theatre and film festivals and reverential night.
There is also music, dance and carnivals. Panafest is used as a medium to establish the truth about African history and the experiences of its people using African Arts and Culture. It is celebrated in July/August.
Emancipation Day is an annual event that has been celebrated in Ghana since 1998. Emancipation began with a campaign against the chattel slavery at the end of the 18th century.
The campaign was successful and the slave trade was abolished by law in 1807. Emancipation Day has sought to secure the commitment of all Africans to the true and full liberation of the African continent.
It has called on Africans around the world to unite. Emancipation Day seeks to create and develop a unique sense of unity, co-operation and understanding amongst Africans. It is climaxed with a grand durbar at Assin –Manso in the Central Region on August
- FETU AFAHYE
Festival Fetu Afahye Festival is an annual festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Oguaa Traditional Area in the central region of Ghana. A ban on drumming and all sounds of drums to create a peaceful atmosphere for the gods and the invocation for peaceful transition precedes the festival. A ban is also imposed on fishing within the ‘Fosu’ lagoon. One other significance is a ban on funerals observance to dislodge any expectant bad omen that may attempt to mar the peaceful observance of purification rites in order to create a congenial atmosphere and support for the ensuing climax of the festival. The festival is celebrated in the first week of September every year and it is climaxed on Sunday with a thanksgiving church service.
EDINA BAKATUE FESTIVAL
Edina Bakatue Festival is observed annually by the chiefs and people of Edina. “Bakatue” literally means the ‘opening of the Lagoon’. Fishing being the main occupation of the Edina people, the festival marks the beginning of the fishing season.
The festival also seeks to invoke the spirit of the ancestors and the sea god/goddess to help the people during the fishing season. It is a week- long activity involving processions with drumming, dancing and singing.
There is also the regatta competition on the Benya Lagoon. A durbar of chiefs and people mark the end of the celebration on the first Saturday of July.
Edina Bronya is connected to the annual New Year Festivities which the Elmina people celebrated together with the Dutch. Edina Bronya, also called Edina Christmas coincides with the Dutch festival on the first Thursday of January every year and it signifies the bond of friendship between the Dutch and the Elmina people.
Traditional ceremonies preceding this celebration includes the exhibition of the “Aketekete” war drum captured from the Fantis in 1868. The Number 7 Asafo Company performs some rites in the Benya lagoon. On Edina Bronya day, families assemble in their ancestral homes and give food and drinks to the departed in a ceremony called “Akor” or “Akordo-konye do” that is, ‘a place that we reunite, settle all disputes and become one; a place where the living and the dead become one’. There is merry making after this ceremony.
Aboakyer is celebrated by the Efutus of Winneba Traditional Area along coastal Ghana in May every year. The festival is believed to have originated about three hundred years ago when the Efutu people inhabited their present home. The god of the people, ‘Penkye Otu’ is believed to have received royal blood as sacrifices in the past.
The people pleaded with ‘Penkye Otu’ to accept a live leopard instead of human beings which it accepted. The people again proposed a live deer to the god realizing the live leopard was claiming lives, Penye Otu again accepted.
The festival involves the two Asafo companies, Dentsifo and Tuafo competing to be the first to hunt down and capture a live deer using only clubs. The captured deer is sacrificed to the oracles at the Penkye Otu shine.
Akwambo Festival literally means ‘path clearing’ is celebrated by the people of Agona in the Central Region of Ghana. The Asafo companies weed footpaths leading to the streams or rivers, shrines, farms and other communal areas. Libation is poured by the chief priest to the ancestral spirits.
At the stream where some of the sacrifices are offered, alligators and other fish species come out to enjoy the mashed yams sprinkled on the water. A vigil observed at night is mainly patronised by the youth, it is a time to renew family and social ties. It is held in the latter weeks of November.
Odunkwaa Festival is a week long celebration which starts on Easter Monday and climaxes on a Saturday with a durbar of chiefs in the area where they coverage at the palace to pay homage to the Paramount Chief amidst drumming and dancing. The festival has two venues namely Abakrampa (The seat of the Traditional Area) and Abura Dunkwa (The Administrative Capital).
The fencing of the Odum tree is a dominant feature of the celebrations. The tree is regarded as sacred, believed to have protected the people from attacks during their wars. Okyir Okyir is often celebrated in the second week of October by the people of Anomabo. Okyir festival is the last of all the festivals of all the fantes.
It is a sign of cleansing or purification of the community from filth, evil, hunger and diseases. Homes in particular and towns and villages are cleaned and cleared of all manner of undesirable articles. A procession through the town by various Asafo companies, Chiefs and Organizations precedes a grand durbar of Chiefs and people of Anomabo Traditional Area on Saturday.
At the durbar grounds, the Chiefs and the people take stock of the year’s achievements as well as their problems. Completed projects are commissioned and new ones launched. Entertainment activities in a variety of forms such as dances, concerts, football matches and afternoon jams as well as crowning of Miss Okyir are organised to make the festival grand, interesting and memorable. Ahobaa Ahobaa is celebrated by the people of Enyan-Kakraba – Saltpond in the Central Region.
It commemorates the end of an epidemic and in honour of a man called “Ahor” who sacrificed his life to end the epidemic. It is held annually in the third week of September.
Masqueraders Festival started around the 1920s and is celebrated on the first of January every year, drawing crowds from all over. There are fancy dressed group who participate in the festival competition wearing masks and accompanied by brass band music.
The festival begins in the morning of New Year day, with street dancing and is open to all performing groups who parade through the principal street of Winneba. The parade converges at the Advanced Teacher Training College (now University College of Education) park where the competition takes the form of a march past and three different dances.
A team of judges award marks and the most versatile group is crowned winner. Odwira Odwira is celebrated by the Denkyira people and runs for weeks. It begins at Jukwa the Traditional Capital and ends at Dunkwa- On-Offin the Administrative Capital. It signifies the cleansing or bathing of their ancestors and lesser gods. Drumming and firing of guns announces the festival in the palace.
There is wailing and weeping by the women amidst the firing of guns by the Asafo Companies in remembrance of the departed. The Paramount Chief is carried in a palanquin to a sacred place where sacrifices are offered to departed royals of the Denkyira state. After the first week of the festival in Jukwa, it is moved to Dunkwa-On-Offin for its climax.
ACCOMMODATION & CATERING
The region boasts of decent and quality standards hospitality units. In terms of accommodation, there exist 3-star hotels, 2-star hotels, 1-star hotels, guest houses and budget hotels in the region.
There also exist registered and licensed catering establishments in the region offering different local and continental dishes. The numerous traditional catering establishments, also known as “Chop Bars” and drinking bars offer patrons a taste of Ghana’s indigenous dishes and drinks.
CONFERENCE/ MEETING FACILITIES
Most of the star rated hotels in the region have state of the art conference and meeting facilities which makes conferences, seminars and workshops eventful. TRANSPORTATION The best way to get around a city is by taxi. Taxi cover most routes around and to the town centre. One can also hire a taxi for an entire day or join a cab with other passengers en route for a particular destination.
If you are looking for adventure, take a trotro to your destination within Cape Coast or Elmina. These 15-20 passenger mini buses remain the cheapest form of transportation. Trotro stations are at Pedu and Tantri in Cape Coast and at the Chapel Square in Elmina.
The Metro Mass Transport (MMT) and the Intercity STC Company Limited operates a public bus service between the capital and other major cities outside the region including Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi. The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) operates privately owned bus services in major cities in the region. The bus leaves when it is full, so one must be prepared to wait up to an hour for departure.
TRAVEL TRADE SERVICES
There exist four (4) tour operators and three (3) car rental services in the region.
1 Fetu Afahye 1st Week of September Cape Coast
2 Aboakyir Festival 1st Week of May Winneba
3 Akwambo Festival August By the people of Agona
4 Edina Bakatue 1st Week of July Elmina 5 Okyir Festival October Anomabo
6 Odunkwaa Festival April Abakrampa/Abura Dunkwa
7 Edina Bronya 1st Week of January Elmina
8 Masquerade Festival 1st of January Winneba
9 Nyeyi and Tuakron Festival September Komenda/Hemang
10 Panafest /Emancipation July-August
Cape Coast /Elmina/Assin Praso/Assin Manso
11 World Tourism Day September, 27 Cape Coast et al
12 Ahobaa Kesse Last week of August Abeadze in March in Cape Coast
14 Chocolate Day February Cape Coast et al
Tourists to the region are assured of a memorable night life, where patrons are treated with the latest in International, Ghanaian and African music. Also, patrons of live bands can enjoy authentic high life tunes at various establishments such as the Pedu Goil Restaurant at Cape Coast, Run-off restaurant at Winneba and others within the region. Other Entertaining film centres are also available across the region.
BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES
The region plays host to a number of banks and financial institutions as well as credible forex bureau. There are many shopping centres in the region offering many different goods from basic produce to elaborately woven kente and cloth. Commercial centres are found in major towns and villages where trading activities take place. There are a number of important craft villages throughout the region which feature wood carvings (Enyan Maim and Ajumako), pottery (Gomoa Otsew, Jukwa and Winneba) and fabric (Cape Coast, Assin Fosu and Winneba).
SEVEN THINGS FOR A VISITOR TO DO
1.You won’t want to leave the Central Region without visiting Cape Coast and Elmina Castles and Fort St. Jago. All three of these fortifications have been designated as World Heritage Monuments under the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
2.When you have finished exploring the castles, travel north to Kakum National Park for a tour of the forest from the tree-tops as you walk along the canopy trails.
3.Once at the park, a quick trip to the village of Mesomagor to hear the Bamboo Orchestra is well worth taking. A traditional art form revived by village youth, the orchestra performs music and dances making use of bamboo percussion instruments.
4.On your way from Kakum National Park, take a minute to drop by the ostrich farm at Mempeasem.
5.Take a day for rest and relaxation at Brenu Beach, the best place to swim and sun bath in the Central Region.
6.Visit the Posuban shrines, considered religious centres of the Fante military organization of warriors known as “ASAFO”, found throughout the region. It is customary (and sometimes required) to present libation (usually peppermint Schnapps) or some token fee to the chief of the village or town in which the Posuban shrine is located before photographs are taken.
7.Enjoy a plate of Ghanaian Kenkey, grilled fish and pepper, made from fermented, cooked corn. kenkey is one of the most popular dishes in the coastal regions.
Ghana Tourism Authority Head Office,
No. 2, 2nd Avenue, South Ridge Near British High Commission/GIJ Adjacent GFA
P. O. Box GP 3106,
Tel: +233 (0) 302 682 601/8
Mob: +233 (0) 244 313 653
Fax: +233(0) 302 682 510