Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Brong Ahafo Region in focus

Did you know that two years after Ghana attained independence, a region was born on April 4, 1959 out of the then Western Ashanti and named Brong Ahafo? Yes, it is the second largest region in Ghana in terms of land mass, with a territorial size of 39,557,O8sq kms. Amazing, isn’t it?
Let me now formally welcome you to Brong Ahafo, the region at the heart of Ghana, with a multiplicity of ethnic groups, physical features, rich cultural practices, tourist attractions and open and warm-hearted people who are always ready to welcome you and make your stay among them memorable, indeed.
The main towns in the region are Sunyani, the capital, and Techiman, the legendary birthplace of the Akan people. Close to Techiman is the famous Catholic monastery of Tuobodom. You remember the controversial hiplife song by Nkasei, Yefri Tuobodom, yen capital town ne Jinijini? Yes, both Tuobodom and Jinijini are in the region.
The Brong Ahafo Region is bordered on the north by the Northern Region, south by Ashanti and Western, southeast by Eastern, east by Volta and west by Cote d’Ivoire.
The region has 13 administrative districts: Sunyani, Asutifi, Tano, Berekum, Dormaa, Asunafo, Techiman, Wenchi, Sene, Nkoranza, Atebubu, Kintampo and Jaman.
There are two main ethnic groups, namely, the Bonos and the Ahafos, both of Akan extraction. The minority groups are the Nafana of Sampa, Koulongo of Seikwa and Badu, the Mo/Degha of Mo, Libya of Banda, as well as the Nchumuru of Atebubu and Sene.
Interestingly, there are 44 paramount chiefs and five divisional councils constituting the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs.
Sunyani has an airport, which connects the region by air to Kumasi, Accra and Takoradi. It also has three inland lake ports on its portion of the Volta Lake. These are Yeji, New Buipe and Yapei, which can all be reached from Akosombo using the Yapei Queen, among others. Have you seen the Yapei Queen before? It is a huge vessel usually called the pontoon. It is able to carry huge trucks loaded with yams, timber, other foodstuffs and travellers across the lake.
One significant thing that is drawing much attention to the Brong Ahafo Region currently is the Bui Dam which is under construction. When completed, it will be the third major dam in the country after the Akosombo and the Kpong dams.
The main dishes of the people include fufu with nkontomire soup prepared with snails. We also enjoy eating boiled plantain and cocoyam, known as ‘ampesi’.
Each year, there are festivals such as the Apoo, Sasabobirim, Kwafie and Fordjour (Yam Festival) that we celebrate.
The Apoo Festival is celebrated in Techiman and Wenchi in November. It is a festival for the purification of the people to rid them of social evil. The festival lasts one week and includes a variety of traditional cultural activities. It ends on the sixth day with the Apoo procession, during which insinuations are cast on the evil acts of some of its citizens. Even the chief is not spared. This period is a time for family reunions and unity among the people.
Another interesting festival is the Kwafie, also a week-long event held in November and December. The chiefs and people of Dormaa, Berekum and Nsoatre celebrate this festival.
It is a purification ceremony, the highlight of which is a large bonfire in the courtyard of the chief. It is believed that the Dormaas brought fire to Ghana and the legend is symbolically represented in a bonfire.
The Brong Ahafo Region abounds in a wide range of tourist attractions.
Here is a five-day programme to introduce the region to you during your stay.
On your first day, we shall leave Sunyani for Techiman and visit the Techiman Central Market. This is the largest weekly market in Ghana which operates from Tuesday through to Friday each week. It attracts traders, mostly market women, from all parts of the country, as well as from neighbouring countries. Notable among the wares displayed are all kinds of grains, yams, cassava, plantain and assorted fruits and vegetables. The market reaches a climax on Fridays when it is filled with all sorts of people in a festive mood and presenting a multi-coloured blend of culture.
The second day will take us to the Tanoboase Sacred Grove. It is believed that the sacred grove is, indeed, the cradle of Bono civilisation. It served as a hideout for the Bono people during the slave trade and inter-tribal wars many, many years ago.
We shall continue to the only known monastery in Ghana, the Kristo Boase Monastery, established by the Catholic Church for the Benedictine monks, with well-designed facilities and an attractive landscape setting ideal for religious retreats or conventions.
The third day will take us to the one of the major attractions of the Brong Ahafo Region, the well-known Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary which is located 22km north of Nkoranza. Have you ever seen a monkey cooking or sweeping? This is a common sight at the sanctuary, which is home to the Black and White Colobus Monkey and the Mona Monkey. The monkeys are used to humans and are easily found in the compounds in the villages of Boabeng and Fiema.
Once in Fiema, one cannot but proceed to the ancient underground Pinihini Amovi Caves to see the numerous holes through which, according to legend, some of our ancestors came to this earth. A visitor can only be led to the caves by the fetish priest of Pinihini.
We shall leave Kintampo for Wenchi on the fourth day to visit the Busia Mausoleum dedicated to the illustrious son of Ghana and one-time Prime Minister in the Second Republic, the late Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia. The famous Kwaku Fri Shrine is only six kilometres from Wenchi at Nwoase village. The shrine is reputed for the cure of many diseases and ailments.
The fifth day of our tour will take us to the traditional cloth-making village of Nsuta. There, you will find a type of coarse jute-like cloth called “Kyenkyen”, which is produced from the bark of a tree by the same name. It is fascinating to watch the cloth-making process of this special fabric that was worn in ancient times, long before the introduction of machine-made textiles.
This ends the tour of the famous Brong Ahafo Region and I bet you will visit one of the places I have mentioned to enjoy what you have read. After all it is said ‘seeing is believing’.

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