I fell in love with the Northern Region of Ghana when I visited there in December 2014 and I very much wanted to share this beautiful savannah region with Brad and Hannah. It was time to go because if we wanted to see the wildlife in Mole National Park, we had to go during the dry season, which will end soon. In April and onward, during the rainy season, the animals are less likely venture to the watering hole near the motel, where humans can see them. So, on the 14th of March we flew to Tamale, the regional capital, and then chartered a car to Mole National Park, which was established in 1964 and covers nearly 5,000 square kilometers. Over 90 mammalian species have been recorded and there are lots of beautiful birds and other wildlife. After we passed through the park gates and checked into the Mole Motel, the first thing we did was swim in the pool to cool off.
We saw monkeys and later baboons in a tree near the pool. We met our fellow Fulbright friends Emily and Lydia, who had already been in Mole for a day and joined them and other motel guests for a night safari on top of a jeep. There aren’t any pictures of that (too dark) but it was exciting, seeing bushbuck, Kob deer, warthogs and guinea fowl in the night.
The next morning we awoke early for a morning hike to see elephants come to the watering hole in the rift below the motel. Hannah made friends with a Ghanaian girl named Bambio and Brad and I befriended her uncle and his partner. Even as we waited for the hike we saw more warthogs and baboon, including babies.
But the first sight of elephants in the wild was incredible. We enjoyed the guidance of each of our local guides and spent time just sitting and meditating in sight of the elephants as they rested, played with each other and cooled off in the water. Our guide told us all the elephants were males because the females are protective the young ones under fifteen so they don’t want to come near humans. The smaller elephants in the photos are therefore teenage males.
We also saw crocodiles in the water and an antelope coming to drink on the far shore. Afterwards, Hannah and Bambio swam in the pool some more and we enjoyed good Ghanaian food for lunch and dinner. One more hike in the morning completed our time at Mole. We were fortunate to see more elephants and also view antelope from a viewing platform.
From Mole we head to the nearby Larabanga mosque, the oldest mosque in Ghana, dating from the seventeenth century. The baobab tree near the mosque has an ancestor buried beneath it and to bring the village clans together, the guide told us, they all share a soup made from the leaves of the tree once a year. The style of the mosque is mud and stick architecture in the West Sudanese style. The style of the rest of the village is traditional local mud architecture.
On our way back to Tamale, passing a number of small villages along the way. In Tamale, Brad gave a presentation on Biosands water filters which is part of Friendly Water for the World. A number of women and men from the Northern Region became interested in attending the training to be held in Accra in May. We settled into our modest hostel accommodations at the lovely garden grounds of Tamale Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies (TICCS) and had a nice pizza dinner there our Tamale friends. Hannah was able to pet and hold a friendly, small cat. The next morning Brad and Hannah flew back to Accra and I embarked on a few days of interviews and archival research in Tamale. The dry season began to break with a strong rain shower during the night. In Tamale, I was able to interview Ms. Fati Alhassan, the dynamic leader of the Grassroots Sisterhood Foundation, who is part of the Anti-Witchcraft Accusation Campaign Coalition.
I was privileged to visit the Gulpke-Na’s palace with a friendly staff member at the Archives who invited me there while giving me a ride on his motorbike. I never imagined I would be able to share kola with a chief, but I did. We all ate small bites kola nut and the court welcomed me to Tamale. I gave greetings from the Fulbright program and my universities — Indiana University and University of Ghana.
Steven and me at the Archives. Motorbikes and bicycles are more numerous than cars in this region of Ghana.
I am so glad that we were able to experience more of the beauty of the Northern Region of Ghana.