Returning to Ghana!

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So it’s now just over 1 week until I go back to Ghana and I’m super excited. I will have the great opportunity of volunteering in a public school in Kumasi as well trying out a few places in Ghana that I didn’t get the time to see last year (although I got to see a whole lot last time luckily) 🙂 I will be posting pics again and posts during my trip to Ghana again. As always, my blog is to show the real beautiful sides of Africa and to try and let people see that it is not what they hear on tv. Hopefully my upcoming posts as well as my previous posts will make people want to visit Ghana and see for them selfs 🙂 don’t knock it till you’ve tried it ! 🙂 see you on the other side and goodbye Scotland hello Ghana ! 🙂

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Learn Yoruba From Home

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After posting a few posts before about my experience in learning the Yoruba language i have had a lot of emails and comments from people who are trying to learn Yoruba them self.

Now, first of all i understand how hard it can be and how frustrating it can be when you don’t know where to start or what books to use etc so i thought i could share some tips and suggest some books to you and also name a few books that i also used.

First of all i would say that patience is the number one key to learning Yoruba and i have learned that the hard way! I was someone who wants to know how to speak Yoruba NOW.. i had no patience when i was younger and got frustrated at why i wasn’t learning as fast as i would have liked. It does take a good few years to really get a good grip of the language and i learned that only about a year after i started learning Yoruba. So please have patience and give it time. Don’t forget that Yoruba is a tonal language so it is a bit more difficult too. I am Scottish so you can imagine the difficulty i had trying to speak Yoruba with a Scottish accent lol Try and adjust your accent to the correct tone.

Below are some more useful tips that i found very helpful when learning Yoruba:

  1. Spend at least 1 hour every night reading and speaking Yoruba – This keeps it fresh in your mind. Reading your books and also writing in Yoruba too. If you are not confident enough to speak it in front of others then speak it on your own and try videoing your self so you can hear where you are going wrong and learn from any mistakes you make in pronouncing etc.
  2. Watch Yoruba movies with subtitles – Watching Yoruba movies is very helpful as it can help you hear how certain words are pronounced rather than just reading it from a book. It also helps you take it in more when you are hearing it from another person.
  3. Listen to Yoruba music – Again, like watching movies, this helps hear the pronunciations. For me this is one that helps me a lot because if you think about it, when you are listening to music, that song gets stuck in your head all day correct? So having a song sung in Yoruba stuck in your head can help you remember certain words. I also advise you to look up the lyrics of the song, that way you know what they are singing and learning how to say it at the same time!
  4. Try and surround your self with Yoruba friends – I have a lot of Yoruba friends but unfortunately i was not confident enough to speak Yoruba with them as i always thought i would sound silly given i have a Scottish accent lol But looking back now, i see that it was just lack of confidence as a person not only in speaking Yoruba. I wasn’t really a confident person a few years back but now that im fully grown i wouldn’t think twice before speaking Yoruba aloud! lol Confidence comes with age i think so don’t worry if you are still young and lacking confidence. It will come naturally later on. Don’t stress on it too much.
  5. Try practicing speaking Yoruba with your closest family member – This one is the part that came easy to me. I was always scared of speaking it with friends as i worried so much about making mistakes or that they would laugh. But with my sister (my closest family member) it came naturally and we just had fun in speaking it. I even taught her some words here and there and even till this day we speak it and joke around with it. Its always more comfortable speaking it with a close family. That way you won’t feel scared about making mistakes.

Below are also a few books that i used while learning Yoruba –

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Beginners Yoruba by Kayode J. Fakinlede

This is a beginners book and it comes with 2 audio CD’s which is very helpful for hearing how the words sound. It is very well written and contains enough information to have you speaking basic and daily conversations. This can be bought on Amazon or Book Depository.

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Teach Yourself: Yoruba – A complete course for beginners 

I found that this book is only very good if you want to be perfect in writing and reading Yoruba BUT i wouldn’t suggest using this book if you want a fast track to speaking basic sentences. This book is more detailed and very time consuming because it covers every word, phrase and sentence you can think of lol some of which you will never really use on a daily basis. I would only fully suggest this book if you were about to sit a Yoruba exam or something way more deep than just learning Yoruba for daily conversations. I got rather impatient with this book as i wasn’t really learning how to speak Yoruba but rather learning how to write and read Yoruba only.

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Je K’A Ka Yoruba – ~An Intermediate Course by Antonia Yetunde Folarin Schleicher

This book i wouldn’t suggest until you are passed the beginner stage. It isn’t quite as detailed and helpful for beginners, of course this is because it is an intermediate course duh lol The book is mostly written in Yoruba and not much English translation. So i would really only suggest getting this book when you are further into your learning. The main reason i posted this book was because it covers a lot of phrases and information that the beginners book may not cover. Its a helpful book to have at a later stage.

So as you can see there is a lot of useful tips and books to help us learn Yoruba right at home without paying huge fees and taking endless expensive classes to learn Yoruba. I am not saying going to study Yoruba or join classes is a bad idea but learning from home in your own comfort zone at your own pace is somehow a better way to fit it around your every day life style and job etc.

Just remember that Yoruba isn’t something you will learn over night and it is ok to take a longer time to learn it or to make mistakes! It is all part of learning and even myself still learns new things and new information about Yoruba so it is a learning path just like everything else in life.

If you have any questions or would like to add me on facebook or drop me a message for any other information then feel free to do so 🙂 All my contact information is in the “Contact” section of my blog.

Thanks again for reading and good luck learning Yoruba! 🙂

Street Hawkers

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Picture above: One of the lovely ladies i met on the way to Kumasi.

I’ve noticed that the word “hawker” is used differently in different parts of the world. Of course a lot of us only use it when referring to someone who sells good on the street by chanting out to people but after a bit of research on “Hawkers” i noticed Hawker is actually used slightly differently around the world.

Funny thing is that in my old home town in Scotland, the word “Hawker” is a word used to insult someone or saying someone is dressed badly or dirty. Like telling someone they look like a hawker would mean someone doesn’t look presentable or tidy. Not in all parts of Scotland but where i grew up that was the word older people tend to use a lot lol

My own definition on what a “Hawker” is, is pretty much just the same as most people. Someone who sells good on the street. A lot of people can be ignorant towards hawkers though and mistreat them as they see it as annoying to be disturbed by them. I think this is ignorance because they dont actually know and realize that they are just trying to make a living or earn some money.

While i was in Ghana of course there was a lot of street hawkers around and while some of them may be in your face a lot it is still something i learned to deal with and understand. A lot of people don’t stop to think about how hard they are working for a small amount of money first of all. Not to talk of the long hours in the heat too! Also i have heard some ignorant people saying they should just go and get a “real job” ! when in actual fact they have no idea why they don’t have a “real job” ! Street Hawkers can be doing that job because of a lot of reasons. One being they might not have the money to pay for university fees to get the job they dream of or some people might just be doing it as a job on the side. I have a close friend who’s mother is living very comfortably and has other jobs yet she still sells goods as a side job just because she enjoys it. So i think people shouldnt be quick to judge.

I actually met some lovely friendly people while out in Ghana who are street hawkers because i am a huge food lover and couldn’t resit buying almost every food i seen lol one thing i actually miss about Ghana was buying different foods from hawkers. Also i found it very handy when i was on the road a lot and got hungry or thirsty and there was the street hawkers to buy some food from.

I am interested to know what other people think about Hawking so feel free to post comments below 🙂

I haven’t been able to post on my blog as often as i would like to due to work but i would like to say thanks for all the views and comments! I’ll try and get more posts up soon as i will be back in Ghana on September to work as a volunteer as most people already know. So i should have a whole lot more to upload when i get a minute ! 🙂

Feel free to add me on facebook or drop me a message/email if you are interested in volunteering with us in Ghana too as we are still looking for people to come along and work in the school 🙂 You can find the ling below for our volunteer facebook page or visit the contact page on my blog for where to contact me direct. Thanks again! 🙂

MakeChange-Africa – (Our volunteer organization) – https://www.facebook.com/makechangeafrica

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian Author)

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I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian Author, last year while looking online at books that i may be interested in buying and this lovely Lady quickly caught my attention (not only because she’s Nigerian! lol) but because of what she stands for and writes about.  Chimamanda is from Enugu, Nigeria and from what i know she is Igbo. She did study in a university in Nigeria but later moved to America to study. I also read that she studied Medicine but later In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in Creative writing. I don’t know exactly how her personal life was or much about her career yet other than what i have read (But i tend to not always go by what i read by press or google! as it may not always be true lol)

Chimamanda has became very popular for many reasons other than her writing. She has also been called a “feminist” which she openly spoke about on one of her speeches by saying what her view and opinion on Feminism is. Like she said on her speech featured on Beyonce’s “Flawless” song : – “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” which i think summed it up perfectly! I really look up to this woman and i think she is an icon for Women and young children.

A lot of Men feel that she is doing wrong and that she shouldn’t say half of what she says.. which i have experienced when i posted a status on facebook quoting one of her brilliant speeches and quickly the Men on my Facebook got a bit heated and annoyed! lol I think this is just because some people cant handle the truth in my opinion! I Don’t believe that she is sexist nor do i believe that she says or writes anything offensive towards men. She is simply saying and writing what she feels and to me, he words and speeches are very inspirational and something to learn from. I think the world needs a lot more Women like this who can openly speak their mind on what they believe.

As most people know and as i mentioned before, Beyonce featured Chimamanda’s speech on her song.. Below is the full speech.. My reason for reposting it is because i think he speech is what really made this song a whole lot better. Wise words from a intelligent and great author: –

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.’ Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” 

Chimamanda has quickly became one of my favourite authors and i would even go as far as saying she is one of my role model’s. I look forward to reading more of her work and i hope everyone else gets the chance to check out some of her great work. I think she deserves more praise than she already gets because she is a very talented woman!

You can also check out her Facebook page below where you can follow her latest updates –

https://www.facebook.com/chimamandaadichie?fref=ts

 

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Stereotypes about Africa

Something that has been really bugging me for a while is the stereotype people think about Africa most especially in my country (UK) where almost everyone I’ve meet and talk to about countries in Africa there reactions are always very irritating to me.

First of all, the biggest one i hear almost EVERY time i tell someone i was in Ghana is “oh you were brave” or “wasn’t you scared going over there?” and this is coming from people who have never visited any country in Africa. So in my opinion, if you have not visited that country you have no right to speak a bad word about it based on what crap you see on TV!

The majority of people i’ve met around the UK see Africa as a “country” which is for one ridiculous and makes them sound pretty dumb! With all due respect but if you are judging a country based on TV that shows your level of intelligence for a start!

A lot of people have questioned me on why i am going back over to Ghana and Nigeria to work as a volunteer as they think it is too dangerous and unsafe! From my experience, UK is more dangerous than Ghana! While in Ghana i felt nothing but respect and love from people i met. They greeted my and were extremely friendly. Below is a picture i took in Ghana and i will go on to explaining my reason for posting this picture below.

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This picture was taken while i was in Akim Achiase Villiage in Ghana, you have probably seen my post before about Akim Achiase. The lady carrying her baby on her back was a very lovely and friendly lady who brought us in to shelter from the heavy rains as she seen us pass by soaked! This was very touching and a great act of kindness in my eyes. Where i come from this would never happen. I am not saying that my country is all bad because it is not but the manners and kindness of the people i met in Ghana was really touching.

So for people to tell me that i am brave to go to Africa is ridiculous because there is nothing to be scared about. In Scotland i wouldnt think about walking outside passed 12pm in the dark. Yet when i was in Ghana i would walk around the village at 1am enjoying the noise of the crickets and bothered by no one. Throughout my stay in Ghana i came across some of the most lovely people and i am privileged to have met them.

I know and understand that Yes, there is some problems around Africa but to judge it based on what you see on TV and judge it as some poor dangerous sick & diseased continent is ridiculous!! because no matter where you go in the world there will be good and bad.

Take a look at the news each month for Britain or America. Is it all picture perfect with no evil and cruel things going on? I don’t think so!

I have and will always admire Africa for all the good things and good people i have came across and i cannot wait to go back to work as a volunteer. 🙂

Thanks for reading and take a trip to one of Africa’s lovely countries and see for your self what Africa is really about.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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So it’s almost 2014 and I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

I only started my blog this year and have had so Many hits and lovely comments from my followers in the passed year. I started my blog simply to spread the word and wonderful sides that Africa really has.. I didn’t know my blog would do so well but I’m glad it did and i love all of my friends from all over Africa who accept me like I am one of their sister’s 🙂 of course I would also like to thank everyone else from other parts of the world for the kind words and interest in what I am trying to do 🙂 2014 Will be another eventful year for me as I will be leaving Scotland to work as a volunteer for as long as I can (for as long as my money lasts me) lol.

I will be posting many more posts and stories through out my travels around Africa as a volunteer worker and keeping everyone upto date with how things go 🙂

With now over 40,000 blog hits I am very happy and would like to thank all you lovely people who take an interest in my stories and posts.

Have a wonderful 2014 with Many more great year’s to come! 🙂

Cape Coast Castle – Ghana

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About the Castle: Cape Coast Castle is one of Ghana’s Slave Castle which was built on the Gold Coast by Swedes for trade of Timber and Gold with a church also built within the castle. The Castle was then later used for the slave trade. For those who don’t know how slave castles were used, they were used for keeping African Slaves locked away after they were captured and held there until sold to the Americans. Some slaves were held there until death if they were not sold. The castle also had a Cell for the Slaves who fought or tried to escape.The female and male slaves were divided into separate dungeons as you will see from my pictures below. Each dungeon was dark, cold and with no lights, toilets or bed to sleep on. They had to sleep and go to the bathroom in the same area so you could imagine the torture they gone through. Slavery was and is one of the many horrible acts of cruelty by human beings. I started learning and reading about slavery from a very young age but when you enter one of the slave castles everything you read about or learned about then feels more real when you see where these poor souls were held and even died. The castle definitely had a cold hunted feel and as you are walking around and feeling and seeing how dark and cold the dungeons are you start to feel more emotional and realise just how horrific it really would have been for these innocent people. People say slavery is a thing of the past and should be left there, but for me, i like to educated people or tell people the stories of slavery and let it never be forgotten because although slavery was abolished i feel the innocent souls who died and were enslaved should never be forgotten and we should remember how lucky we were and still are…to not have faced the same thing they did.

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On my third day in Ghana i reached Cape Coast and of course it was a must to visit Cape Coast Castle not only because i am a huge fan of history but also because it is a beautiful castle despite the deep dark history that lies here.

I took a bus that dropped me off some minuets away from the castle so my sister and i walked to the castle and saw some lovely sights along the way. Below is a picture of the beautiful church just outside of the castle.

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We also met some lovely people outside of the castle including a girl carrying water on her head who was interested to know what brought us to Ghana. She also insisted that my sister carried her bucket on her head which was quiet funny to see my sister carrying something with her head haha

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The Front of the Castle

As we entered the castle there is a shop/market area where you can buy souvineers and different types of things including clothing. I Bought a beautiful Kente dress from one of the shops. We then reached the counter where you will pay for your ticket and also pay to take your camera in with you. 1 camera per group or person if you are alone.

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We were then joined with a group of other tourists and guided around the castle with a tour guide who tells everyone the story of the castle and what happened in each room of the castle etc. I took some videos while in the castle while the tour guide was telling the stories of the castle. I will upload them to my blog later for people to see.

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The picture above of cannon balls is what were used when intruders tried to intrude the castle or take over the gold coast. The cannon balls were shot at their ships to bring them down and stop them from entering.

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As i mentioned before, the Cells were used to keep what they called “stubborn Slaves”. Slaves who fought to free themselves or to free their wife’s/children. They were locked inside this cell as punishment as if they were not being punished enough! the cell was extremely small and dark.

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My sister and I inside the castle

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The Female Slave Dungeon – The dent in the middle of the ground was their “toilet” – in the same area they would sleep. All human wastage would flow down this area out into the Ocean. Leaving the innocent souls to either die through sickness, Disease or malnutrition if they were not shipped out and sold before then. The lights in the dungeon was only later installed when slavery was abolished – For tourism.

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View from the top floor of the castle.

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The Door of no return – The door that led the slaves to the ships where they were then transported to the Americans.

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The Door of Return

The Door of no return was of course because they would never return to Africa, but later the other side of the door was named “The door of return” apparently it was for those lucky enough to return – I’m not 100% sure if this is correct i am just speaking based on the information given by the tour guide.

As you can see, Cape Coast Castle is just one of many slave castles and is a huge tourist attraction in Ghana. I definitely recommend that everyone who visits Ghana should stop by Cape Coast and visit on of Africa’s many slave castles. You will leave feeling emotionally attached to Africa if you are not already. Don’t forget to show your respect when visiting and take a moment to remember the lost innocent souls not only of Ghana but of all those who died and suffered during the slave trade!

Kakum National Park – Cape Coast, Ghana

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On my travels around Ghana, i eventually reached Kakum National Park in Cape Coast. Kakum National Park is the only park in Africa with canopy walk. I have to say it was a little scary and very high but such a great experience. I think my sister was more scared than anyone there as she was holding on for her life haha..

ImageThe Entrance at Kakum national park

 I really recommend this place to anyone who is visiting Ghana, it is a Must see! the only downfall of it was the prices! Non- Ghanaians are charged almost double to enter. We kind of expected to see a few animals but we did not see any animals at all. It was more like a trek, but still very much worth experiencing 🙂 The walk up to the canopy bridges was so so steep and really tires you out lol It takes around 15/20 minuets to get to the top where the canopy walk is. The walk back down was a lot easier! haha

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The start of the walk up to the Canopy bridges.

When you get to the top, you are then told to cross individually or in groups of 2. You are also told not to shake the bridges or scare anyone lol of course i then made the bridge shake a little just to scare my sister haha. as if she wasnt scared enough :p The bridges connect to 7 tree tops. At the end of each bridge there is ledges for you to stand on to get from one bridge to the other, this was the part i found scary! as the ledges felt like the were moving away from the tree haha.

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The stop point where the guide explains what we should expect when we get to the top.

We were told to watch out for snakes hanging from the trees, which of course made me a little more nervous!! lol But luckily we didnt come across any snakes, the only thing we came across was a mosquito that bit my sister on the hand and she freaked out! hahaha.

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One of the bridges

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The Start of the bridges

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My sister holding on for her life at the start of the walk! haha

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On the way back down to the bottom

When you reach the end of the bridges the guide will then lead us back down to the bottom. It is more relaxing going back down and there is also some stop points where you can have a seat. There is also a bar at the bottom where you can get something to drink and take a look around. There is many lizards walking around which we found very amusing lol i tried touching one but it just ran away from me 😦 lol

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Me outside the bar/payment area, wearing my Kente dress i purchased from Cape Coast Castle Gift shop 🙂

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If you are ever in Ghana or plan to go to Ghana, please check this place out and enjoy! 🙂 thanks for reading !

My First Tattoo! Africa!

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I am not really a fan of Tattoo’s to be honest and i always said i would never get one unless it was very meaningful to me. so after seeing some tattoo ideas i decide this one was perfect for me and i would never live to regret it as it means so much to me. I have it on my lower ankle on the inside 🙂 The reason it means so much to me is because it will always remind me of being in Africa and always remind me of my happiest moments. As you can see it is not only the African continent but also a beautiful lady carrying a pot on her head. As most people know, this is how most people around Africa carry many things on a daily basis so it represents culture as well as Africa as a continent! I love it so much and i think its the most beautiful tattoo ive ever seen so i had to get it! 🙂 Now i have Africa with me where ever i go! 😀 You can see some photo’s below of the process while getting my tattoo 🙂 

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