THE PIKWORO SLAVE CAMP TOUR

 

THE STORY OF THE PIKWORO SLAVE CAMP

A man went to Navorongo looking for a place to stay. The people gave him a vast piece of land. Little did they know that he was a slave trader. The people named him Nania Pikworo because meaning, a good man in the local language. Pikworo established the trade in 1704. He started it by himself but was later joined by Samori and Babatu.

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This was the source of water for the slaves. It is believed that no matter the draught, this particular water remains active to satisfy the thirst of the slaves and help them do their chores.

 

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We were led to their grinding mill where DSC09552they used stones to grind their meals.

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Fascinated children looked on

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This was their entertainment hall. Four people were selected from one tribe to play here as the others sang and danced beneath the rocks. For them to play well, they were well fed and the feeding songs attracted others to come and watch, the feeding also attracted others to come and join the slaves. Those who realised they would be sold later and tried to run away were sent to the punishment rock to be dealt with. According to the history, some rebelled and were sent there severally in order to die. They preferred death to being sold.

 

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Their dinning hall. They dug into the stones to create their own bowls. Bowls they ate in. So foods will be put into these bowls and more than five people will share a meal in one bowl.

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It is a very big land

 

 

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And many stones abound. It was noted that the slaves were tied on the trees when they are brought in.

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This is the watch tower. A trusted slave is ordered to stand here and watch out for strangers and rebels who wanted to fight the slave lords for their captured people. These people never succeeded because the slave traders were more powerful and were armed with guns. So they were mostly gunned down before they reached the place.

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Head of Department of English at Tamale Senior High posing to honour his ancestors.

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Graves of dead slaves. According to the history, the dead slaves were given mass burials in a grave meant for one. So graves were never covered until they were filled up.

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A filled grave looked like this, some stones were placed on it to mark its “fulfilment”

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We were sad but as Kofi Awoonor will say, death shall die, and sincee slavery is dead now and Pikworo, Babatu, and samori are gone, we posed in honour of the “wronged” dead people

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Just close to the cemetery is the Punishment Rock which faces directly the sun. So slaves who defied the rules were made to sit on this rock, tied firmly and made to look at the heated sun (those who know the Upper East of Ghana know the sun’s rays can kill if one does not take cover) so many went blind, others became weak and sickly and died. Immediately they died from the sun and the burns from the heated rocks, they were tossed into the ready grave.
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So this is the punishment rock in all its threats even way after its meals of punishments have been abolished.

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Tired from the heat of the sun and the dense thought of souls sold on this terrain coupled with the pain of death of many whose lives were never allowed to blossom let alone whither.
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These men volunteer to play sounds with the stones to entertain us. All we needed to do was give them something to buy water out of the goodness of our hearts.
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This is where the slaves were brought and paraded to be sold. They were sold based on their strengths and it was a barter trade. They were traded for mirrors, guns, gun powder and alcoholic drinks.DSC09575

After being sold, they were fed a little before taken through the journey. Thise who became weak in the course of the journey were thrown into bushes that wild animals were. So the animals could feed on them.DSC09576

Trees which has probably tasted more than millions of blood

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The reception of the Pikworo Slave Camp.

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You know it will not be us if we do not do something fun

DSC09541The slave camp was abolished in 1845
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On our way we realized that there were lots of baobab trees in Navorongo. They call it the evil tree but use its leaves for soup and seeds for drinks. According to the inhabitants, the baobab tree in houses are sometimes tied with bandages to prevent to prevent them from crying at night. When they grow to a point they cry at night like human beings. So they are not touched with knives. Their barks are smooth. They grow to their own capacity and die. But when they die, no body knows. Because they still look fresh. So they are considered dangerous because they can kill when they fall and they fall without notice.

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TOURING THE CHIEF CROCODILE POND IN PAGA WITH STUDENTS

We embarked on this journey on November 14, 2015. We took off at 5: 20am and reached there around 9:30 am

THE HISTORY OF THE CROCODILES OF PAGA NAVE (NAH-VE)

Paga’s patriach and founder Nave’s story goes back more than a dozen generations to Timpela in Kampala in present day Burkina Faso and begins with Nave’s father; Prince Panlogo. Upon his father’s death (Prince Panlogo’s father) Panlogo contested for the position of Pio (Chief) but lost to his younger brother. Dissatisfied, Panlogo left his homeland. He travelled with a group of his sympathizers to the land of Timpela. Some supporters of his brother followed and his younger’s brother’s people gave chase. Panlogo and his followers reached a raging river with no means of crossing. In the midst of desperation, the people saw a crocodile at the bank of the river. Panlogo’s people believed the spirit of their ancestors resided in crocodiles. Panlogo asked for help from the animal in crossing the river and in return, swore his support for the crocodiles and promised to treat them as sacred beings who would never be harmed or killed and will be treated as human beings and be buried after their deaths.

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We reached there around 9:30am and the tour guide readily opened up because we booked before getting there.

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We were ready to see the sacred crocodiles.

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And so we entered.

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But not before I took a picture of the reception

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And got an image opposite the view of the pond

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Last to go in, I took a frontal view photograph

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And we reached the walkway to the pond

 

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Fascinated students looked at the pond expecting the crocodiles to show. But we were told the guide needed to call the sacred ones with a young chicken.

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The left view of the pond

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The pond in pictures

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Only the brave one ventured to stand close without the tour guide

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The outskirt of the pond

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Lined up, they were led

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While we dared to get close

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Time for us to follow

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From afar, we expected to see so much

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Our target is the tree

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Finally we meet the stars of the moment

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The guide sheperded as students took pictures in turn for one Ghana cedi

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Many dared for pictures

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And it continued

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Getting the star alone

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Other stars surfaced but were ushered into the pond for the 98 year old crocodile to have all the star light

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The girls dared

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Fear and intrigue, at least she tried

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The caller of the crocodiles with his little chicken

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A good guide we got. Always there to calm all fears

 

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And all those interested took turns
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Nothing could make her royal highness sit on the crocodile. This was as far as she could go and the students noticed

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They spiced things up by bringing the horse for pictures

 

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Our last moment to view

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We came together to take a picture

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And we always do something crazy.

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Image of goodbyes

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Some of us went to their restaurant to eat.

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cooly decorated

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Crocodiles are really revered

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Culture of the arts

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The mini pub

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The cozy inn

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Even the bath house looked cool

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Rice is not her favourite food but she enjoyed it somewhat because it tasted really nice
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THE LEGEND OF NAVE

Nave was born to Panlogo and grew up in Kampala. He grew up to be a powerful hunter and lived in a time when the Savannah had no boarders. One morning, he went for hunting with his loyal dog and saw an antelope. Hoping to get the game and present it home for the family meal, he gave it a hot chase and it entered an  aardvark hole. Nave also entered but the antelope and the aardvark escaped and the frightened aardvark covered the hole trapping Nave in.

Back in Kampala, Nave’s people were terrified after two days without seeing signs of their son. When they saw his dog, they feared the worst. Nave lost consciousness but a crocodile who was in one of the aardvark holes used its tail to brushed a cool dirt on him, waking him up. He then followed the animal through its hole out.

The animal led Nave to a cool pond and he quenched his thirst and was able to go home to his people who were thankful for his life. So he reaffirmed his father’s decision not to harm or kill or eat crocodiles.

Nave saw a pond filled with crocodiles in Paga and thought they followed him to his new settlement to keep watch over him. So to the people of Paga, harming a crocodile is a grievous crime. It is further believed that the crocodiles in the natural ponds of Katogo, Chura and Cho-Buga (all in present day Paga) are souls and spirits of past generations.

Touring the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and the Kintampo Waterfalls

I went with some geography students of Tamale Senior High school on a tour to the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and proceeded to the Kintampo Waterfalls. Knowing Ghana, my homeland, is now a passion, so I decided to share our experience.

The Buabeng Fiema Road from Kintampo
The Buabeng Fiema Road from Kintampo

WP_20150228_001 WP_20150228_004 The road to Buabeng Fiema from Kintampo was 32km and only some 300m of that road was tarred. The dust was unbearable, some pot-holes; unbelievable, but we plied through safe and sound.

HISTORY OF THE BUABENG FIEMA MONKEY SANCTUARY

In the year 1827, some people  went to settle in Buabeng Fiema. There was a hunter among them. One day, the hunter who was called Nana Ampong decided to go to the river side to fetch water. On reaching the river bank, he found a fetish covered with white cloth, flanked by the white and black colobus and mona monkeys. When the monkeys saw the hunter with his gun, they fled, leaving the fetish. The hunter decided to take the fetish home. When they woke up the next morning, they found four monkeys in the village. They consulted an oracle and the oracle told them that the monkeys were the children of the oracle, so if they liked the monkeys and could live with them without any problem, they could keep the fetish but if they could not live with them, then they should take the oracle back to where it was found.

The welcome spot of the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary on www.amoafowaa.com
The reception of the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary on http://www.amoafowaa.com

WP_20150228_007 WP_20150228_008 The settlers liked the fetish and the monkeys because they met them in Buabeng Fiema when they went to settle there, so opted to keep it and live in harmony with the monkeys. The fetish told them that anyone who caused any harm to any of the monkeys would face the anger of the fetish by dying. The settlers agreed. The oracle also told them that if any of the monkeys died, they should bury them like humans or else, the fetish gods will deal with them. The settlers obeyed and prepared sizeable coffins for the burial of dead monkeys and the fetish priest of the village poured libation to go with the burial. (Still a ritual)

Starting the journey into the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
Starting the journey into the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary

WP_20150228_023 If the monkeys get sick or injured, they have their own medications in their sanctuary (which is the forest in which they live) but no one has been able to get their medications. If they realize they are going to die, they go to the village or to a public place and die, so they can be found for burial.

Being enlightened on the history of the sanctuary by our tour guide; Edmund.
Being enlightened on the history of the sanctuary by our tour guide; Edmund.

WP_20150228_028 WP_20150228_030 WP_20150228_031 The monkeys live in groups and every group has its leader. In the group of the mona monkeys, the head of the group, who is always the biggest, is the only one allowed to have sex with all the females in the group. If another male tries it, the leader beats it to a pulp. So if a male wants its freedom, it needs to form its own group. The groups get their territories marked so no other group can evade, if there is an evasion, there will be a terrible war. Funny enough, the mona monkeys play with the black and white colobus monkey without friction. WP_20150228_050   The monkeys go to the village after the villagers go to farm to steal their foods, so villagers who are not careful will have no food in their houses upon their return from farm. No monkey can be hurt or given any form of punishment because any harm on any of the monkeys is tantamount to death. (At this point, I asked if it is really true that one might die if he or she harms a monkey.) To this, he replied: “Ei madam, please don’t doubt this, when I was in class four, the Salvation Army Church members defied the gods and killed the monkeys for their meet claiming the words of the gods were superstitions, they died painful deaths until their extinction. So the villagers learnt their lessons” The guide, Mr. Edmund, cautioned that noise will scare the monkeys off, so tourists just needed bananas or other foods, extend them to the monkeys and they would come and take them, granting tourists time to take pictures.

The sanctuarinarians, roaming in the wild, a mona monkey
The sanctuarinarians, roaming in the wild, a mona monkey
A black and white colobus; known to be less friendly because it thinks humans are to be feared
A black and white colobus; known to be less friendly because it thinks humans are to be feared

WP_20150228_063 WP_20150228_062 WP_20150228_061 WP_20150228_060 WP_20150228_059 WP_20150228_058 There are other animals in the sanctuary, but the monkeys have a larger population, they may be over 3000 monkeys now, they were counted more than five years ago and were about 2000 monkeys. Since the mona monkeys deliver every five months, and the black and white colobus deliver every two years, their population has surely increased.There are snakes but mangoose are also many in the sanctuary, since they feed on snakes, the snakes are not many in the sanctuary. Hunting in the Sanctuary is forbidden. So even if a tree falls, it is left to rot. There are trees like the ficus tree, which is a parasitic kind of tree, it eats up an existing tree and replaces it by planting its root and eventually plants its root from the top into the soil. WP_20150228_037 WP_20150228_038 WP_20150228_039 WP_20150228_040 WP_20150228_044   THE MONKEY CEMETERY

There are two signboards in the cemetery; Madam Afia Boahene and Nana Kwaku Amponsah, but the one who discovered the fetish and monkeys was called Nana Ampong. Madam Afia Boahene was a virgin who helped the village to communicate with the fetish any time there was going to be a disaster. The fetish told her to warn the village, they also told her what the village needed to do to counter the attack. So the then priest, who was Nana Amponsah, prayed to counter it. Madam Afia Boahene died at the age of 120 and no virgin has been found to replace her. Now, whenever there is going to be a calamity, the monkeys cry deep into the night for seven days. Mostly, this cry means a chief of the two surrounding villages is going to die. The unfortunate thing is that, nothing can be done to reverse this as no one hears the voice of the fetish. The three people; Nana Ampong, Nana Amponsah and Madam Afia Boahene were all buried at the Monkey Cemetery because they are all considered the children of the fetish. WP_20150228_048 WP_20150228_049 WP_20150228_051 WP_20150228_052 I have to add that, there is also another story of a king and his men going to war leaving only women and children in the village. Fearing they may come to harm, he turned them into monkeys, hoping to come back and turn them back into beings. Unfortunately for them, they all perished leaving the human monkeys to live in the Monkey Sanctuary.

The Buabeng Fiema Village
The Buabeng Fiema Village

WP_20150228_067 WP_20150228_068     We left the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary at 1pm for the Kintampo Waterfalls.

HISTORY OF THE KINTAMPO WATERFALLS

It was discovered in the 18th century by a roaming hunter called Nana Ankomah who was the first formal chief of the area. He kept mute about it and visited the place with his family. During the colonial era, a British colonial doctor called Dr. Saunders also found the waterfalls so decided to develop it and make it known to all. The place was named after him and so was called the Dr. Saunder’s Waterfalls. Shortly after independence, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also took over and built some houses there. Since, Dr. Saunders was no more, he changed the name from Dr. Saunders to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Waterfalls. After the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the buildings he had became idle. In 1992, the place went under the Ghana Tourist Board who decided to change the name because Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was no more. They chose to name it after the town, hence, the Kintampo Waterfalls.

The first stage of the falls.
The first stage of the falls.
The second stage of the Kintampo Waterfalls
The second stage of the Kintampo Waterfalls

DSCF1160 DSCF1161 There are three stages of the waterfalls. The first, second and last stage where tourists can swim.

Descending the 152 staircase to the third stage of the Kintampo waterfalls.
Descending the 152 staircase to the third stage of the Kintampo waterfalls
The third stage of the Kintampo Waterfalls
The third stage of the Kintampo Waterfalls

DSCF1154 DSCF1155 Stage one is the lower fall, stage two is the normal stream water and stage three is the only place one is allowed to swim. In stage three, one can fall easily because the place is very slippery. Females in their menstrual cycle are not allowed to swim.

And we always do something crazy
And we always do something crazy

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AT THE MOLE NATIONAL PARK’S MUSEUM

At the museum; a cub of an elephant which was preserved after its mother was killed by poachers in 1982. I cannot believe this has been here on earth longer than I have.

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The frozen remains

With no locomotion

A wonder.

I watch…

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This is the balloon or global fish. The guide told us that it is a very poisonous fish. A little consumption equals bloating and death.

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Maps made with elephant skin.

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An ear of an elephant.

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The table of bones; skulls of  buffaloes, monkeys, tiger, skins of pythons and many others.

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The skin and head of a baby python which swallowed a crocodile and died.

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There were charms confiscated by tour guides who caught some poachers who hunt down animals. We were told that these people believe these charms can help them vanish when they are in peril. Take a look.

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Now the defects:

There is no hospital or clinic here at the museum. Though they do not have any record of people being harmed, it is a whole community of wild animals with workers and visitors. Why can’t there be even a good clinic? To top it, the fuel station is a white elephant because of financial constraint; a little birdie whispered to me. I took a shot;

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The plus is that, there were many workers on the road busy with their work. A good road to this wonderful place is in order and has my full appreciation. From Fufuiso to Damongo, many road workers were seen busy.

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So we said bye bye to The Mole National Park for the Larabanga Mosque which is only a stone throw.

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So I’ll leave you with this poem:

Live a wanderer

Be dazzled in wonder

The sight is a blessing

Of the beauty of being.

Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2014.

For those planning to visit the Mole National Park, please note that, there is much more to see. There are two waterfalls, countless number of animals. All we saw were at the walking zone. Deep in the wild you have to go with a durable vehicle. We could not because of our number and time.