The Hot List
Read on for our guide to the week's coolest events and most interesting venues. If you manage to tick off all ten, head back to our home page for daily updates on the best restaurants, cultural events, nightlife, and whatever else Accra manages to think up before our next Hot List is published on Monday.
Why you need to visit Aburi Botanical Gardens
Green is the colour of balance and harmony. And sometimes we all need a bit of that in the midst of a busy city like Accra. While a trip to Aburi Botanical Garden might not cure everything, it will certainly bring momentary peace and well-being.
First viewing: Gallery 1957's Rituals of Becoming
Sex, gender, and identity. A new and provocative art exhibition is soon to open in Gallery1957 in Accra. Addressing issues as human nature and the duality between the feminine and masculine, the exhibition is bringing attention to the marginalisation of minority groups. Titled Rituals of Becoming, the Ghanaian-Togolese artist Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi, who works under the pseudonym crazinisT artisT, mixes live performances, video projections, and displayed items. Through Drag performances (the clothing associated with one gender role when worn by a person of another gender), crazinisT artisT strips one identity in order to assume another – the artist seeks to redefine common perceptions of body and sexuality. While the video installation will showcase the cross-dressing artist’s daily rituals of transformation, the material installation displays a collection of female clothes gathered and worn by the artist over the years. Collectively, the objects and videos seek to establish a new understanding of self and other, where the other isn’t another individual, but part of the same body. About the artist: crazinisT artisT (b. 1981, Ho, Volta Region, Ghana), aka Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi, currently lives and works in Kumasi, Ghana. He received his Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi in 2014, where he is currently pursuing his MFA. About the curator: Maria Rus Bojan is an international curator, art advi
Get away to Elmina
Besides a substantial amount of speed bumps, the three-hour drive is fairly comfortable. Along the well-paved highway, road sellers make a living chasing vans, trucks and cars balancing anything from tasty dried plantains, cubic-formed glass containers to aluminium buckets full of 0,5-liter sodas on their heads. The speed, of which these sellers manage to contact customers, secure the deal, pick the product and exchange the money, is like a bird catching fish in the water. Fast and effective. While buildings get smaller and the traffic density decreases, a lush nature scene unfolds and a scent of salty fish fills the air. Turquoise and yellow fishing boats bob along the Gulf of Guinea, palm trees and the delightful sounds of nature defines life on the coast. Yet, life here hasn't always been pleasant. An imposing presence sits above the vibrant fish market: Elmina Castle. Like many century-old buildings, a musty smell, sharp and heavy hits visitors on entry. Here on this very spot, one of the greatest crimes against humanity took place and ended only 200 years ago. ”This is where the rebels went”, explains the tour guide pointing at a skull symbol above the so called condemn room. The castle, founded by the Portuguese in 1482, is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. Established as a trading post for goods, the place bears no signs of comfort or care for the living. Standing in the courtyard in the burning mid-day sun, you can only imagine how unple
The best of Accra
Accra's top 7 hotels with swimming pools
Deciding on a hotel in Accra? Bear in mind that the city can get hot. Really hot. And while exploring Ghana's capital is incredibly rewarding, sometimes all you'll want to do is laze by a pool in your swimsuit. Take a dip, keep the kids entertained and relax with Time Out's round up of the city's best hotels with pools. And if you're just looking for a place to visit for the day, these pools are available for the use of hotel guests and members of the public alike.
Accra's cultural highlights
National Museum of Ghana
The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. The museum, opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1957, gives an opportunity to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective. Much of the display is dedicated to indigenous art and crafts: there are regalia, musical instruments and the all-important royal Asante stools. Other displays include Asante gold weights, currency, instruments, textiles and leatherwork. Slighty hidden away is the chair used in Kwame Nkrumah’s inauguration and the chair of the last British governor, rescued from Christianborg Castle. An exhibition about the slave trade is essential viewing, outlining the era’s brutal history, and showing poignant relics such as shackles. There’s also a gallery with pieces by Ghanaian artists.
WEB Du Bois Memorial Centre
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes. The couple’s mausoleum is surrounded by Asante stools, a seminar room, a restaurant, a gallery, an amphitheatre and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture.
Independence Square and Independence Arch
With modernist and Soviet- influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercial events such as concerts and fashion shows, which take place throughout the year. Even if there’s not much happening it’s worth wandering around just to marvel at the sheer audacity of it all.The Independence Arch, at the centre of the busy roundabout, is also known as Black Star Square, thanks to the motif that dominates the arch. The sculpture is a nod to Ghana’s acclaim as the ‘Black Star of Africa’: it was an inspiration to other African countries vying for independence and the Flame of African Liberation, lit by Nkrumah, still burns strongly nearby. Please note that there are (seemingly unwritten) laws about taking photographs and we strongly suggest that you don’t take photographs of any part ofthe area.
Where to take kids in Accra
The best weekend escapes
Aqua Safari Resort
We were rather taken aback by Aqua Safari. It faces out to the estuary of the River Volta, a mile or so upstream from the ocean. From an open-sided restaurant and bar you can see Ghana’s island-dwelling folk crab-fishing and clam-diving in the water. The forward-thinking owners offer guided tours to the islands for boat-building and basket-weaving workshops – there’s also a lot of water to play around in on a jet-ski or one of the pontoons. Game-fishing excursions can be arranged too. Best of all is the option to spend a lazy couple of hours exploring one of the most beautiful areas of Ghana by boat. The whole river environment gives a relaxing and slower pace of life; a stark contrast to Accra two hours away. The rooms are well-appointed, and large chalets all have sizable and impressive common areas and kitchens. There’s also a small pool if you don’t fancy a dip in the river. There’s a new, large conference centre with all the modern amenities you’d need.
A complete guide to Mole National Park
To find Ghana's best wildlife, it's Mole National Park in the north of the country where you need to head. Here's our guide to the park. Mole (pronounced Mo-lay) National Park is Ghana’s biggest wildlife sanctuary. There are 93 mammal species in the park, including buffalo, warthogs, hippos and several antelope species. For practical purposes, one of the places to stay is Mole Motel (027 756 4444, www.molemotelgh.com), the only hotel inside the park. Situated on the edge of an escarpment and looking out over a waterhole, it’s somewhere where monkey-watching becomes just another part of breakfast, lunch or dinner. In the dry season, it’s not uncommon for elephants to pay sneaky visits to the hotel’s swimming pool. A new luxury residence is about to open called Zaina Lodge (030 393 8736, www.zainalodge.com). This ecolodge is located in Mole National Park. Facilities will include an infinity pool, open bar fire pit and 25 rooms with private balconies and outdoor showers if you choose! The park office next to the motel acts as the meeting point for localised game waland looks over two waterholes (on which elephants tend to be the main draw), or 4x4 tours much deeper into the Mole Park. Despite the hotel and park office, there’s very little in the way of tourist infrastructure. This is seen by many as a positive thing, and one consequence is that it’s become an important place for scientific study, particularly in relation to poaching and sustainability. Two hours from th
Colours of Elmina
Is there a more colourful vision in Ghana than Elmina's fishing port on a clear morning? This masculine little town subjects the visitor to a whirl of sights, sounds and smells like nowhere else on the coast. The clatter and chatter of the fish market is a world unto itself and truly a sight to behold - a swarming rainbow palette of batik dresses and football shirts offset by great tubs of crabs, squid and mahi-mahi, all dominated by the painted hulls of newly returned pirogues, themselves strewn with flags and washing. When you factor in a supporting cast of goats, chickens and wheeling birds of prey, not to mention the oven-door heat blast, it's quite a scene.
Cape Coast Castle
You’ll most likely be aware of Cape Coast Castle already (Barack and Michelle Obama visited in 2009 to much fanfare), as it was here that some of the worst atrocities of the slave trade era were committed. The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the solid white bulk of the castle acted first as a fortified base for overseeing the export of gold and other goods before ‘market forces’ initiated a move into human trafficking. A tour of the site today makes for a harrowing, but undeniably salutary, visit. Thousands upon thousands of West African men and women were imprisoned within the castle’s scratched dungeon walls – in truly horrific conditions – before passing the ‘Door of No Return’ and being shipped off to the Americas, the majority of them not surviving to reach their final destination. To establish a clearer understanding of the crushing reality of the period, the 45-minute guided tour (included in the ticket price) comes highly recommended. There’s also a museum on site. The Castle is now listed as a World Heritage Site, and gazing down today from its old ramparts at the late-afternoon hubbub of fishermen and red-dust footballers, it’s hard not to be stirred by the human cost of its past.