The journey from Kumasi to Koforidua took less than we had feared, from eleven in the morning to two-thirty in the afternoon with a jeep exchange along the way.
The one where Frank, the driver of the Ghana tourism authority GTA, had been driving us for a few days, started to generate metallic noises. To which no problem with the battery that caused its light on the dashboard to turn on for everything and nothing would be unrelated.
Accordingly, Frank enters the parking lot of a large cluster of roadside restaurants. He parks beside a jeep like ours, light gray instead of dark.
The two drivers advise passengers to go to the bathroom and buy whatever they want while they are transshipping their luggage. Over lunchtime, we don't make ourselves begged.
We ran our eyes over the profusion of snacks on offer. We bought chicken kebabs and fried yams, everything to take away. We didn't have time to waste. Furthermore, after nine days of our Ghanaian tour, mostly by road, the vehicle's atmosphere had long since ceased to concern us.
We were supposed to arrive at the entrance to some Boti waterfalls before four in the afternoon.
A detour to a bead necklace market dictated by tourism officials Kojo Bentum-Williams and Yoosi Quarm caused a delay that, much as he wished, Frank could not make up for.
The Delayed Visit to Boti Waterfalls
As we enter the park that delimited the waterfalls, a rather ill-tempered retinue of four elements welcomes us, including directors and guides: “We weren't counting on you anymore”, conveys a local director to Kojo, in a dry tone of malpractice disguised. "we close at four, it seems to me that they were informed in due time".
Kojo pulls on the diplomatic braid and solves the predicament as best he can.
Moments later, we were all descending the two hundred and fifty steps that led to the base of the waterfalls, down a slope subsumed in lush, drenched tropical vegetation.
At the bottom, we find a muddy lake, shaded by leafy trees. From this shadow, the Pawnpanw River rushed down from a half-concave cliff, already there in the shape of the two lower Boti waterfalls.
One of the guides who dictated the tradition of the region explains to us that the one on the right was male. The one on the left, female.
And that, during the rainy season, the two waterfalls joined in what the natives considered their mating season, graced by successive rainbows generated by the splashes released by the impact of water and the wind.
Boti Falls: From Lost in the Jungle to Refuge of Rest of the Father of the Ghanaian Nation
Today, a mere natural attraction frequented by Ghanaians during rest periods, the Boti hide a controversial history. For centuries, they remained hidden in the dense jungle of the area. That is how it was until a Catholic missionary gave them and started to use them as a place of rest and entertainment for his core group of guests.
However, the land on which they were situated belonged to the Akyems of Tafo, a tribal group in the area. When they claimed it, they realized that it had already been sold by another tribal chief, to a member of a third tribe. Typical of the Ghana complex, the dispute has not stopped getting complicated.
It required a judicial intervention that, against everyone's will, declared the waterfalls public domain.
By that time, the feud had already made the waterfalls famous. The first Ghanaian Prime Minister and President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah decided to visit them in 1961. The majesty of the natural setting so impressed him that Nkrumah commissioned the regional commissioner to erect a retreat house for him there.
In that flow of the river and the people, time had gone by more than it was supposed to. It was starting to get dark. And yet we are supposed to take a look at another natural peculiarity of the Yilo Krobo region, this one made only of rock, instead of rock and water.
Twilight and Drought Visit to a Mysterious One Umbrella Rock
A Umbrella Rock 2km away, by way of goats. With sunset imminent, Kojo and the entourage decide that we would go through it by jeep instead of on foot.
Once disembarked, in a bluish twilight atmosphere, we unveil a rock formation sculpted by erosion, inspired by a mushroom and that the popular imagination highlighted being able to shelter 12 to 15 of its own from the tropical rainforests at once.
Even without rain, despite the almost night, the entourage, already well expanded compared to the one told in Boti, indulges in endless photos and selfies, in a communal session that only the absolute darkness of that valley lost in the nothingness of Akpamu put an end to.
We set off towards Koforidua, the capital of these parts of the country, treated by its youth by K-Dua or KofCity.
An Amazing Night and Pass through Koforidua
No matter how informal the city was called, they direct us to a so-called Royal Hotel.
Due to the computer work we were late, we slept a mere five hours.
At 8:10 am, we woke up like zombies, decomposed by Kojo with whom, as a rule, we complained every morning, because he and Yoosi dictated the beginnings of the day to be much later than we wanted.
We left in two jeeps, up the mountain, at great speed, with the four blinkers on, honking and overtaking too dangerous, in a mini-caravan that only lacked sirens to take on a special operation.
The Embassy to the Tribal Chief of the Region that Never Found a Place
Despite the commotion, Yoosi explains the occurrence to us: “we are taking a detour. We're supposed to salute the tribal chief of this region and we're too late.
In Ghana, the bosses are superb. They don't like to wait. When made to wait, visitors have to offer them a cow. It doesn't come cheap, believe me!”
We believed. When we check into The Royal Senchi – the resort on the Volta River marked as a meeting point – that Tribal Chief was no longer there. We didn't understand who would buy the beef,
A European hotel manager greets us. We drank welcome cocktails and took an official photo of that play-and-run visit.
We left again, this time appointed to the Ghanaian tourism delegation from Ho, eastern region of Ghana that we would come to explore more
Stopover in Ho City, En route to the Famous Kente Kpetoe Festival
There, a city guide joins us. Nii Tawiah shows us the way to Kpetoe, the place east of Ho where, since 1995, the Agbzmevorza festival, better known as Agotime Kente, has been held every year.
Not to vary, the estimates and preparations of the duo Kojo and Yoosi fail again.
Instead of starting only in the afternoon, as Kojo had informed us, the festival was already taking place on a clear lawn.
A crowd, partly seated, partly standing, in the shade of elegant tribal sunshades, occupied a wider, let's say popular, sector.
Rompante entry at the Agotime Kente Festival already in full
In the center stood out a platform with a canopy in the colors of the Ghanaian flag and which housed the highest representatives of several ethnic sub-nations of Ghana.
In practice, during the festival there is a reception of chefs and their subjects who arrive with the superior purpose of exhibiting different types of costumes and fabrics. kente produced in their regions.
The festival takes place in Agotime, a place that proclaims that it was its people who introduced the art of its Kente weaving into present-day Ghanaian territory.
However, the village of Bonwire, near Kumasi, the center of the country's Ashanti ethnic group, is also considered a Ghanaian source of Kente.
Whatever its Ghanaian origin and soul, the art of kente has spread and diversified.
Kente is woven in silk and cotton bands in the most diverse forms and levels of quality that we saw dressed in the guise of a toga on men, women and even children around.
There is authentic kente woven only by traditional means. There is also another intermediary that comes out of Ghanaian factories such as Viisco and Akosombo Textile Lda.
Then – there's no escaping it – a cheap mass-produced version in China is still marketed, as a rule, for consumption by the western public.
The Diversity of Patterns and the Meaning of Kente Shades
In any case, each of the colors used in the kente patterns has its meaning: black is identified with maturity, ancestral spirituality, funeral, mourning and the like. Blue with peace, harmony and love. Green with vegetation, planting, harvesting, growing, spiritual renewal. Gold with royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity.
And so on, as for the rest of the chromatic spectrum. Kente patterns are complex and identified with a name and even a message from the weaver.
Fabric names, such as colors and patterns, prove to be important elements when Ghanaians acquire their kente. If money is not an issue, fabric quality never will be either.
The most valuable Kente is by far the traditional one worn by traditional chiefs who enjoyed shining on the surrounding lawn and tribunes, crowned and decorated with strings, bracelets, rings, medallions and other gold paraphernalia.
And that, protected from the afternoon tower by a large canvas tent and sunken in armchairs, we could hear speeches in slow motion, it seemed to us that there was no end.
At one point, the organization was forced to rush and cut short the speeches that followed, a heavy blow to some leaders who had been preparing their illustrious messages for days.
Dances, Traditional Exhibitions and those of the Tribal Chiefs, elevated on Eccentric Palanquins
We return to the open lawn. There, dance exhibitions begin to the rhythm of jambés, drums and species of Ghanaian maracas.
The women line up. They dance in a row and display their kentes and the voluptuous forms pressed into them in a circle of sunny ecstasy, proud and smiling.
It wasn't the first Ghanaian tribal festival we attended. We had lived the Fetu Afahye with incredible intensity, on the streets of Cape Coast.
As the afternoon drew to a close, the feeling that something unavoidable was lacking in that Agotime Kente Festival intensified in us. It only lasted a few minutes.
From one moment to another, the dances, the drums, the jambés, all the music and other popular expressions on the lawn vanished.
Two chiefs approached the back of the clearing, in a plane above the crowd. Part of this crowd, by the way, carried them on lush palanquins, sorts of large gilded bathtubs patterned with intricate motifs.
At a central point of the lawn, clear of people by the organization's security guards, the chiefs stand side by side, each wrapped in the respective kente toga, brandishing their sword and other significant elements of their royalty and the supremacy that justified exhibiting there eyebrows.
Soon, they followed their own destinies and that of their peoples.
All power has limits.
In the meantime, yours was transferred to the central stand. There the awards and national and magnanimous closing speeches would be inaugurated.
They set the tone for a gradual stampede from the crowd.
Returning to the homes and humble dresses of everyday Ghanaian life. If the gods allowed it, the following year kente would be celebrated again.