This article is about my visit to Cape Coast, Kakum park forest and the stingless bees centre in Abrafo, Ghana, West Africa spring 2017.
On my ninth day of my three week tour of Ghana I awoke early at my airbnb the other side of Shiashie in Accra to leave for Cape Coast. I was to be picked up at 8am by my guide and driver. The trip would take about two hours, let's see if this estimate is right I said to myself. Why did I choose to go to Elmina and Cape Coast? Why did I choose to visit Ghana and why at this time? I will answer the question of timing first. It was a birthday present to myself. I wanted to be in west Africa and be around a race of people I could identify with being of Africa descent myself. I wanted to see people that look like me at this time. Further reasons for visiting Ghana were for business.
West Africa Is Developing
The country Ghana is developing* at a fast pace in all area, economically, technologically and socially. I study and have been looking at the food technology service sectors. I have made many connections before my visit to Ghana too. Fourteen months prior to my visit a food hackathon took place at Impact hub accra.impacthub, Osu, Accra. This was organised by a contact I made in London called Yorm Ackuaku founder of esSense13. I wanted to visit the country the next time an event of this type was organised by Yorm. Instead of a food hackathon fortunately my visit coincided with **Enterprise Africa summit 2017. So I was lucky this event was great for networking and promoting the brand West Africa Cooks. I did enjoy this time and for being in this business. Yes in Africa in this moment made me feel good about being African, not black British but of Africa.
Visiting Ghana And Cape Coast
I like reading books, non fiction, autobiographies and novels. On a personal level having read the book Pig From Pasta to Pigfoot by Frances Mensah Williams about a young black British girl in the diaspora exploring her roots in Ghana. I too want to find out more about this west African country. I encouraged you to do the same. Visit more than one West African country. I follow online the controversial activist Umar Johnson as he travels the world. Umar Johnson, the prince of Pan-Africanism as he calls himself suggests educational trips to Cape Coast and Ghana for all Africans. Most Ghanaian tours operators promote visits to Cape Coast as a destination too. So these were more reasons to spend time and tour the country.
I setup a tour of Cape Coast with the company Roots To Glory recommended to me by Michael Twitty† which included tours of the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles. The castles were final stopping point in Africa for trade in humans. The next stop was America the route was the Atlantic sea for many African slaves in years past. Educational first hand visits to important historic world sites like these are important for local people too. I saw many Ghanaian school children visiting on this day. I believe the children I saw are taught about the ††Gold Coast history. Heritage and history then the beauty of the land. If you visit the Cape Coast area make sure you also visit the Kakum Park Forest.
Read more about the Roots To Glory Vision “who am I” and “where did I come from?” and tours of Cape Coast and Elmina to Ghana, plus tours to Cameroon, Nigeria and other African countries
Kakum Park Forest
The Kakum park conservation area has a long series of hanging bridges known as the Kakum canopy level walkway at the forest canopy level‡. to provide access to the forest. The canopy walkway passes over seven bridges and runs over a length of 330 meters. If you are scared of height and sense danger don't go up to this walk in the sky. If you can get over your fears the walk provides stunning views and a buzz for trill seekers. If you drop your camera here though say good bye to it forever. My walk on this day was extra lively as it coincided with another group of noisy visiting school children.
Recommended reading for all visitors to Ghana. Read Official Ghana Tourist Guide by Amazing Africa. This guide is comprehensive and educational and details trips such as this article describes
Stingless Bees And Honey
It was a suggested by my tour guide after visiting the Kakum National Park and the canopy walk to stop at Abrafo. Here I could make an educational tour around the International Stingless Bee Research Centre.
The stingless bee centre is a sanctuary for bees, a place of insect research and educational tourism. I paid Cedi 20 to the expert guide Kwame Aidoo for the lecture and tour. Kwane manages the site and conducts local scientific research.
I was informed by Kwame that the centre officially opened in 2011 after six years of setting up the project. The preparation involved finding the right location to site the sanctuary, finding the bees and transporting them to the area. This had never been done before in Ghana so the team had to approach this with a plan which was step by step in detail and coordination. To efficiently sustain stingless bees you have to think about how they will survive the journey from their natural habitat and how they will thrive in their new home. Beekeeping has to be meticulously planned and all eventualities thought about. A healthy hive is the aim. There are predators to consider. Reptiles like geckos, spiders and man are all threats they can kill the bees. A twenty acre site of secondary forest was found. At present only two have been used. Kwame explained where funding§ came from. Stingless bee species on this site are Meliponula bocandei, Meliponula ferruginea, Dactylurina staudingeri and Hypotrigona sp.
Above Stingless Bees Nest
The talk continued as Kwame using diagrams, pictures and text explained the importance of wild life, that the centre wished to promote conservation and pollination services for Ghana. Bee biology was discussed as was hive behaviour. There are three caste members of the colony. The queen bee can live for eight to ten years. Bees take care of 80% of plant pollination. Bees collect the nectar which they turn into honey from flowers near by. The type of flower, the distance traveled by the bee and which bees species collect the nectar all have an effect on the honey produced.
The Taste Of Honey
We then had a close examination of the bee hives, no special clothing was need. You could touch the bees without fear of stings. I had them climbing up my hands. I was shown the measures put in place to protect the bees. There were cats wondering around the grounds which chased away the reptiles. The base of the hives were covered in diesel oil to stop lizards from crawling up to the hive.
The bees produce honey, propolis and beeswax which the team harvest. There is an aesthetic value to honey which can be used as a medicine. Skin burns calmed and eye bacterial infections cured by the use of this products. I didn't know that.
Finally I had a taste of the honey. Of the three that I tried all had different smells and tastes based on the flowers the bees collected their nectar from. The taste of the honey was delicious, sweet and fruity. There were however other elements and compounds that go into the complex taste. Honey can have mango, lemon or barley flavours also. I could detect this in the three types of produce.
In conclusion Cape Coast is a must place to see in Ghana. The above trip to the stingless bee centre sanctuary it easy to get to include it in a trip to Cape Coast and the castles and you will enjoy hearing about the scientific work going on here.
West Africa Cooks