armed with several pens full of MP3 files, in addition to the driver, Frank played the role of the car's DJ.
It ran famous themes in Ghanaian music, one after the other. After a while, the same ones, one after the other, again.
So repeated that, even having heard them, on that trip, for the first time, they began to generate in us some familiarity.
For a good part of the time, we just listen to them as mere music, even if some had lyrics too obscene for what we were used to.
As this repetition unfolded, the loudest melodies conquered us, one of them in particular, of which Frank did not know either the author or the name.
We tried to discover them using the Shazam app. In vain. The App didn't seem to have a Ghanaian section in its database, so we resigned ourselves.
Even so, resigned, we arrived at Ho, the capital of the Ghana region of Volta.
Just in time to attend one of the most important ethnic festivals in the region, the Agbamevo, also called Kente, for celebrating the profusion and exuberance of this type of traditional Ghanaian fabric during the event, accompanied by industrial doses of gold. Agbamevo has proved itself in such an exuberant way that we will soon be dedicating an entire article to it.
So we move forward in the Ghanaian narrative until the next morning.
At ten in the morning, afternoon and bad hours, we went out onto the road. Join us now, Nii Tawiah, in charge of showing us the Volta to the north of the capital Ho.
As soon as we saw and heard him, we had the feeling that we were facing an American actor Chris Rock's lookalike.
Ghana DanceHall Demand Success
We went back to settle in the jeep. Frank reactivates music mode. Soon, the assortment of MP3s will hook us up with one of those themes that had us intrigued. Aware that Nii belonged to a generation above Frank's, we asked him if he knew what it was.
"What, neither Frank nor Kojo nor Yosi told you what this was?" replies Nii, amazed by the musical alienation of the entourage on board.
“This is Vybrant Faya (stage name of Emmanuel Kojo Quayson, one of the new stars of DanceHall Ghana. The song is called “mampi”. Vybrant Faya is one of the most famous of the Shatta Movement Family which is led by Shatta Wale.”
Nii dazzles us. Finally, we had people to graduate and inform about the music scene in Accra, Ghana in general. During the rest of the trip, especially after returning home, we discover more authors and other worthy Ghanaian Dancehall themes.
And videos, almost all of them somewhat shabby, which, even without the proper resources, aspired to the glamour, complexity and visual promiscuity typical of US channels such as MTV and the latest Trace.
Later, on our way back to Portugal, we found out that Vybrant Faya had died about a month after we heard the contagious “Mampi” for the first time.
Despite his youth, physical fitness and irreverence, he could not resist the crush of a motorcyclist who was traveling at high speed on one of the most frenetic roads in the capital Accra, the Tema Road.
On the way to Remote Amedzofe
That morning, miles away from imagining such a tragedy, we left Ho pointed at a village of Amedzofe, perched at the foot of one of Ghana's eccentric heights, Mount Gemi.
An hour later, we enter the village, a cluster of pastel-hued houses with reddish tin roofs or other sheet metal, thus discovering the panorama from a higher point.
In front of and above these houses, a large green hill in the shape of a breast stood out. A dense mist, between gray and bluish, enclosed Amedzofe like a greenhouse and seemed to caress the top of the hill.
The Ghanaian guides take us to the local tourism facilities, headquarters of the ambition to make Mount Gemi a must for Ghanaian tourism to begin with.
There we are introduced to Satoshi Okubo, a young Japanese man highlighted by a cooperation and volunteer organization abroad.
Satoshi tells us about his life experience in Amedzofe, how he had integrated much faster than he expected.
How I thought people there deserved a more generous life than they had, why they had convinced the GTA (Ghana Tourism Authority) to bring foreign travel journalists there.
His challenge encourages us to photograph the natural beauty and soul of that place.
We left in a small entourage. We started by walking among the houses. Until Nii cuts to the base of the mound, to the trail that leads to her nipple's crest and the generous, windy meadows that stretched out of sight behind her.
The Easy Conquest of Mount Gemi
The trail becomes steep and gets lost in the grass that the mist was constantly growing. One of its rare meanders reveals a crucifix highlighted in yellowish-green.
The cross marked the zenith of the hill, 700 meters above sea level, less than 100 meters below the highest elevation of Ghana.
When they reach it, ill prepared for such efforts, Kojo and Yosi occupy it, one on each side, in a mode of synchronized recovery and contemplation. We photographed them both on their perch.
As we pass to the rear of the summit, we are surprised by a family scattered along the mist-marked threshold, excited by the special group photos and selfies they were taking there, with the mist and the nearby village of Gbadzeme in the background.
On that summit, we still learn about the colonial curiosities of the place.
The way in which the Germans colonized it, at the end of the XNUMXth century, around a School of Mission, it is said that because it was one of the few in its Togoland that gave them a cool climate comparable to that of Germany.
The Germanic Genesis of the Baptism of Mount
In 1939, twenty years after the defeat of the Germans in World War I and the loss of Togoland, divided between the French and the British, the German Missionaries were allowed to return and resume their work of evangelization.
On that occasion, they erected a cross on top of the hill that became known as Gayito. Since its colonial institutions were managed by such a German Evangelical Missions Institute and because this acronym was inscribed at the base of the cross, in time the Mount became known as GEMI.
Ghana and Togo, this last country that, if it weren't for the fog, we would also see from the top of the hill, only became independent in 1957 and 1960, from the British and the French.
With the fog descending in plain sight and a light rain setting in Nii and Kojo anticipate the departure even further north, towards the Wli Falls, unmissable, if only because, at 80 meters, they were the longest in Ghana and , so we were assured, from West Africa.
Back Up in Search of Wli Waterfalls
We covered most of the way along a rutted red dirt road. At around 15 pm, we set up shop in a restaurant-terrace on the side of the road, a few kilometers from Togolese territory.
The late lunch gives rise to intricate conversations that, at a certain point, already involve the slavery of the Gold Coast region, and the role of African and European tribal leaders, including the Portuguese. Pitch-black clouds, appearing without warning across the border, interrupt the debate.
We cut the repast. We dashed off towards the beginning of the jungle trail that led to the waterfalls. We covered it in less than the expected 40 minutes, side by side with a river that, at intervals, overflowed without appeal.
Finally, we left the thick forest for the clearing that preceded the cliff of the waterfall. A mixture of rain and the spray from the vertical flow that the wind blew in our direction wet us in three stages. It kept us soaking wet for nearly an hour.
Wet and unexpectedly cold, we struggled to photograph the Wli Falls in that grandiose border scene, against the inexhaustible drops and droplets that stained our lenses.
Forced Withdrawal by a Weather Arrival Togo
In the meantime almost amphibious, Togo reinforced the battalion of clouds it was sending over Ghana. The squall became such that it forced us to run in retreat to the car, fearful that a flood would catch us on the sometimes muddy and sometimes swampy banks of the river.
We return safely. The rain only took over at the entrance to Ho.
Back at the hotel, we took invigorating showers. We dined on soups even spicier than the average spiciness of the previous days, reddish Ghanaian broths that, more than sweating, left us hyperventilating.
The next morning, worn out from the meteorological commotions of the day before, we slept too much. As we leave, Frank, Kojo and Yosi lead us to the area's resplendent lodge, Akwamu's Senchi Royal, newly built on the banks of the Volta River.
Senchi, Akwamu Gorge and the Majestic Volta River
Fed up with our desire for exploration, Kojo and Yosi settle there and do everything to spend the afternoon drinking cocktails.
Dissatisfied, we demanded a return by boat through the Volta that was scheduled. Kojo and Yosi relent. Aware that we would do it aboard a hyper-luxury speedboat, they join us.
Until they realized that, amidst the confusion of the program and deprogram, we had also reconfirmed a complementary journey
Intimidated by physical exertion, the inseparable duo from GTA returns to the hotel and, we hope, to cocktails. We followed a guide the hotel had picked up for us to the top of the slope of Akwamu Gorge.
We finished the route once more soaked, instead of by the rain, by the humidity and condensation aggravated by the vegetation above the river.
Even so, made in sweaty water, we admire the great Volta River and the city of Atimpoku, with its houses north of the Adomi bridge.
Returning to the river level, we visit Akwamufie Palace (Bogyawe), current throne of Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, king of Akwamu state, one of the many traditional semi-tribal domains that, despite its status as a nation, survive in Ghana.
As the most diverse testimonies of the greatness of the Akwamu people survive in the palace, starting with the key to the castle of Christianborg, which the Akwamu conquered in 1693 from the colonists who were also slavers of the Dano-Norwegian kingdom. Already after the Portuguese golden period consolidated around Elmina Fort.
As far-fetched as it may seem, the story goes that Nana Asamani, then King Akwamu, sold the castle back to the Danes-Norwegians for 12kg of gold.
He kept, however, the keys to the castle. Today, they are one of the main attractions of the Bogyawe Palace.
Back at the Senchi Hotel, Kojo and Yosi complained that our delay would make us get into the worst traffic in Accra.
In fact, we were late. And at bad times.