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director of the Creative Arts Council, Ghana
There’s a burgeoning arts scene in our capital, on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. Head to Jamestown, the oldest district, and walk through the old port and along the beaches scattered with graffiti, studios and boxing gyms. Every August the Chale Wote festival takes over here. This visual arts event started with 500 guests and next year will host 40,000 people. It’s so exciting to see.
You can chuck on your glad rags and eat the best sushi in the city at the swanky Santoku. Or enjoy the local fare of light soups and giant snails at Bush Canteen in East Legon.
Outside the capital you’re spoilt for choice, but we’re a beach country, so I’ll always head to the Atlantic coast. Down in the Western Region, Busua Beach is my favourite: whether you’re diving, on jet skis or lying on the golden sand, you’d never know it wasn’t the Seychelles. A flight from Accra only takes 45 minutes, but my advice is jump in a car and enjoy the six-hour drive. You’ll see countless luscious coconut groves and monkeys. Stop for a walk and nature will catch your eye; have a conversation with a roadside kenkey (similar to a sourdough dumpling)-seller. Ghana is a country where no two trips are the same.
Right now is the Year of Return marking 400 years since the first African slaves left the continent. It’s the perfect time for black people across the world to come to Ghana and start their ancestral journey. It’s a celebration of our culture and heritage, but there’s history to soak up, too. A trip to Elmina castle is a must. A few hours drive from Accra, it was the last port of call for slaves being forced to leave the continent.
You don’t have to be African to feel at home here, that’s my tip to visitors. We’re a fun-loving people, as long as everyone is shown respect. We are waiting for you, come and see us.
CEO of record label BBNZ Live
If you’re in Accra for a good time then prepare not to sleep — that’s always my advice to visitors. There’s always another opening, house party or album-listening session to get to.
You’ll head out for the day and only return the following morning. Nobody stays still. A night out in Accra means heading to five, six or seven places — it’s a kaleidoscopic experience.
You need to eat. Dimaensa restaurant in Abelenkpe district, serves fufu (cassava dough) the traditional way, while Mosoko has an amazing African buffet — to try everything you’ll need a few visits. I recently discovered Theia cafe, a great spot in the Airport Residential Area.
Go for drinks at Republic, a streetside pub with flair and history, then pop to Front/Back, which looks like a container from the outside, but is actually this great speakeasy with as diverse a crowd as any. Check out Sky Bar 25 if you want to rub shoulders with Accra’s upper echelons. It’s expensive, but pop in for a cocktail and to look out at the best view in the city. Need a late night snack? The BurgerBoyz outside the nightclub Ace Tantra will feed you until 5am.
I’m biased, because it’s a place I created, but check out the BBnZ Live to meet young creatives and entrepreneurs who are carving out Ghana’s future. We started as an ad agency, became a record label and now we’re an incubator for local start-ups. Ours is a generation tapping into their purpose, more adventurous than the 9 to 5, and part of a growing middle class.
The Elle Lokko store is well worth a stop, too. It’s an eclectic hub for emerging artists to sell their work, a palace of underground culture and fashion.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, visit the beaches and hotels of Takoradi — my hometown, also known as Oil City. A bunch of new places to explore have popped up each time I visit. The tranquil islands of Ada, complete with resorts and palm-lined beaches, are only 45 minutes from Accra. Or drive up to Aburi and check into Hillburi hotel, which overlooks Accra. It’s tranquil, somewhere to breathe a little and prepare for another city adventure.
CEO and founder of Guba
Having set up Guba, the UK-based Ghana achievement awards, it’s my job to know what’s worth celebrating here. They say Osu is Ghana’s Oxford St — home to restaurants, shops, culture, and all sorts of activities. Head here for a real sense of Accra in all its glory. Pop into Christie Brown, the store of one of our most eminent designers, and eat at Gold Coast restaurant for traditional food served with flair and, on Friday nights, a live band. Wander up and down the streets and see what you can find in this bustling and vibrant area.
Culture lovers are spoilt for choice in Accra. Afrochella, an unrivalled annual celebration of African music, art and fashion, this year takes place on 26 December, and there’ll be more than 50 live performances. Sarkodie, one of Ghana’s renowned rappers, holds a huge concert every Christmas which no visitor (or local for that matter) should miss.
Dixcove is a hidden gem, a coastal village in the western region of Ghana. Nobody knows it’s the best spot to see dolphins. Few visitors know about the beautiful and refreshing waterfalls of the Volta Region, either. It’s hot most of the year here, except for May and June, which is the rainy season. Relax by the pool and eat a delicious meal at the Royal Senchi Resort, a couple of hours north of the capital. Plan a visit to Kumasi, the centre of Ashanti culture, during the Akwasidae festival, a traditional Ghanian spectacle held every sixth Sunday. Breakfast at Villa Monticello, a luxury boutique hotel in the Airport Residential Area, is a treat, but some of the best food you’ll find comes from street sellers. Try white fish stew, chicken fillets, fried yams and plantains with a side of corn — and then just watch as the city moves around you. You may have heard of the “jollof war” between Ghana and Nigeria. Make sure you taste our version of the rice dish — you’ll know right away whose is better.
designer and illustrator
Do your homework before you come. Accra is intense, it’s our little New York City. Know what to expect before you’re here — prepare yourself for the noise, the heat and the people — so you won’t have to waste time once you arrive. Listen to the Sincerely Accra podcast hosted by Joseph Nti. It’s full of interviews and vox pops with local residents discussing the biggest topics of the day.
I’m all about the galleries and exhibitions. My favourite is Omanye House owned by Prof Ablade Glover, a leading light in Africa’s art scene. It’s the perfect place to see work from all over: Ghana, Mali, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. Plus, there’s a bar out the back that looks out on to the ocean.
For high-end fashion, the West Hills Mall on the outskirts of the city is a treat. Steve French, Bello Edu and Daniks Peters are the young Ghanaian fashion designers to keep an eye on. I’m a designer, too, and in 2018, I launched my own label. Head to Makola Market if you want to see how the city buys and sells. From clothing to wax prints, food and souvenirs, it’s always alive and full of colour.
Kwahu in eastern Ghana is the place to go for a more relaxed stay. This area is mountainous and hosts a paragliding festival over Easter. I’d recommend a visit at any time of year if you want more trees, less pollution, and to see giant mansions. We call it the Beverly Hills of Ghana for a reason.
Eyetsa Ocloo founder of The Shop
Here at The Shop, a space in Accra that showcases and sells the work of 400 Ghanian artists and creatives, we’re open 12 hours a day, and there’s a cafe as well as performances.
To see the rest of Accra, hire a bike and head to Independence Square and check out the castle. Keep an eye out for open gutters — even the ones which look closed aren’t always as they seem. The Botanical Garden in Legon north of Accra is our only major park and a must-see on a visit here.
For food, I love Kukun cafe — when I’m craving English food it’s the best spot for a fry-up. Zion Thai does great Asian dishes and, for a treat, make a reservation at Suncity for amazing fish and a view over the Atlantic.
Accra is becoming more urban, and smaller in the sense that we’re well connected. People used to call Abidjan the Paris of Africa, but now I think Accra has taken that title. Our National Theatre has seasonal productions so check their calendar of events, and the same goes for the university. The +233 Jazz Bar is my favourite music venue and has shows every evening. I’d recommend heading down on a Thursday — the same all-woman band has been playing that night for years now.
At times, the heat can feel overwhelming, especially for visitors. La Villa Boutique Hotel is an oasis in the centre of the city — dive into the pool to cool down if it feels too much, then enjoy cocktails and delicious Italian food. For a more traditional African experience book yourself on to a nomadic dinner cooked by Fatmata Binta. She’s a chef of Fulani descent — one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa.
There are plenty of other interesting food, sightseeing and creative experiences on offer in Accra — check out tastemakersafrica.com. — Guardian News and Media
AT A GLANCE
- Ghana: Officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa.
- Capital: Accra
- Currency: Ghanaian cedi
- Official language: English
— Source: Wikipedia