Ghana: People-to-People
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 4 - Pra


The region between Ashanti land and the coast is associated with gold mining and agriculture.  To an extent, agriculture is about nurturing the environment and gold mining has become very destructive of the environment.  After the Treaty of Fomena, in 1874, the Pra River became the boundary between the Ashanti and the ethnic groups along the coast.


Commerce and armies have been traveling through the corridor between Kumasi and the coast for centuries, but it has only been since the 1990s that the road have been good enough for easy access for the general public.

The roads provide the opportunity for increased economic activity and affluence.  Increasing, along the road there are broad signs advertising business and events (left) and television antenna sprout from roof tops in even isolated communities (right).

Ghana, selling corn at the road sideGhana, selling fire wood at the road sideAdditional scenes from the road show very little vehicle traffic, a family sell their fresh corn harvest or piles of fire wood and the occasional town peeking out of the forest. So much didn't get photographed: Towns generally had health clinics, schools, police post, smallGhana, bone yard of used bikes stores, market, bicycle repair service and various boutiques. It is amazing the extent and quantity that used bicycles have penetrated into the Ghanaian market structure. It seems like every bike shop has a bone yard of used bicycles.  When will some businessman come around to collect all of this recyclable metal to cash in on it? 

Ghana, breakfast kiosk serving omlets and coffeeThis tends to be an area where restaurants don't exists.  In the even dinner can be purchased from roadside venders who sell rice, beans, vermicelli, meat, fish, chicken and salad.  We are always please when we can find a nice table with eggs, bread, coffee and tea, at breakfast time.

Ghana, court of the chief of New EdubiaseGhana still maintains a hierarchical structure of traditional chiefs at the town, district and regional level, that serve functional roles in their community. The symbol of power is the "stool" (below left), which is only occupied by the chief (below center).  The court's linguist is identified by his staff (below right).

Ghana, stool of the chief of New Edubiase Ghana, chief of New Edubiase Ghana, linguist of the chief of New Edubiase 

Ghana, traditional healers and herbal clinics sign Signs for traditional healers and herbal clinics appear with some regularity in southern Ghana.  This is true in cities, small towns and remote hamlets (like the one to the left). This sign indicates that the practitioner treats; "Rheumatism, stomach ulcer, piles, body pain, menstrual pain, asthma, hypertension, diabetics, stroke, heart, manless, bornless of both sexes, unary, snake bite, elephantiasis and hernia."  It is a short list compared to some healers, which are fascinating in their comprehensiveness.  Someday, someone will do a coffee table book on West Africa traditional healer signs.

Ghana, Kuapa Kokoo Ltd Depot, New Edubiase Ghana, road near New Edubiase Ghana, road near New Edubiase

Kuapa Kokoo Ltd Depot, New Edubiase (above left). for what makes Kuapa Kokoo interesting see KK  Generally, around New Edubiase the countryside is wooded and the road is flat.

Ghana, solar powered electric pumpGhana, solar powered electric pumpAt first look this water pump looks like a common hand pump, but with a second look it can be seen that it is attached to additional apparatus; a solar panel, electric motor, flywheel, value and pipes.  Collectively, the system provides water to a distant location, without constant human labor and without an ongoing carbon foot print.

lineman up a power pole string new power distribution lines. roadside is often forestedOne more snapshot of progress is a lineman up a power pole string new power distribution lines.  In this section of our route parts of the road looked like they were roadside is often forestedbeing readied for paving.  As it is now, the roadside is often forested and traffic is almost non-existent.  This will likely change over time as it is easier to have a higher standard of living in rural areas.  The design of road improvement project -- wider cleared right-of-way and the asphalt road surface -- both work to heat up the road environment for bicycling.  That is the trade-off for getting rid of the bumps.

A common crop in the area is oil palm.  In conjunction with the oil palm grove, occasionally there is a stack of oil palm stalks near the road.  While the oil palm groves are sometimes large enough that they might be corporate farms, the palm oil factors that are visible periodically along the road look like they are family operations.  Presumably the oil palm stalks along the road are there so that the factories can purchase them and process them into palm oil.

Ghana, small palm oil factoryGhana, pressing oil palm to produce palm oil.The production of palm oil is a cottage industry in the area.  Because it was a good time for a break, we stop in at a palm oil factory that was adjacent to the road.  The crew was gracious enough to let us look around as they worked. 

The process goes roughly like this:  (1, 2, below) The palm nut fruit is broken off the stalk.

(3, 4, 5) The palm fruit is put through a crushing machine.  (6), the crush palm fruit is heated to help release the oil.

(7, 8, 9) The crushed oil palm fruit is then press to great palm oil.  Palm oil is red because it is very high in beta-carotene. 

Ghana, crushed oil palm fruit is then press to great palm oil Ghana: Palm oil is red because it is very high in beta-carotene.

Looking at the division of labor in palm oil factory; some task had one person working on them, some tasks had two people and some talk had three. And, the mother to-be got the sit-down task. Everyone was working very consistently and the division of labor was balanced so that the palm fruit moved through the factory very evenly.  There didn't see to be any big backlogs or idle time.  It was quite efficient.  But at a few cedis per liter it is unlikely that anyone is getting rich at this process -- and there are a lot of mouths to feed.

Ghana, banana shootsGhana, Kuapa Kokoo depotBehind cocoa and oil palm, bananas may be the next most important agricultural output in the district.  Similar to palm stalks, we saw piles of banana shoots by the road side.  Cocoa is still important as evidenced by another Kuapa Kokoo depot inGhana, timber bamboo forest Ghana, tropical hardwood being harvested from the forestWasase, Cape Coast District.  Tropical forest hardwood is also part of the economic mix.  They are still pulling big trees out of the forest on a daily basis.  And, if you had any thought of building bamboo bikes you might be interested in the timber bamboo growing wild in the area.

    Ghana, timber bamboo forest 


Road fix for a wheel truing jig -- razor blade and duck tape.

A section of road from 1986

Local transport from 1986


 Next dispatch.



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