Kumasi’s Akweba Fertility Dolls and the Magic Sword

Written on December 21, 2007, Lixborr Hotel, Benin City, Nigeria

I had to wait until I could look in the guidebook to continue catching up the story of my travels.

In Kumasi, I somehow made it the Fosua Hotel… ah, now I remember! I astonished some of the taxi drivers at the station by simply rolling my luggage past the VanefSTC bus station gate and onto the street to the hotel. When I arrived, the lift was out of order so a couple of guys helped me cart my luggage up the six flights, well maybe it was four flights, to the plush decay of the hotel lobby. The receptionist gave me a room at the far end of the building. I settled in for a shower and to relax a bit, but kept nearly jumping out of bed each time there was a large crashing sound in the ceiling. It took awhile to figure it out, but I finally realized large birds were landing on the thin aluminum roof at twilight making loud crashing sounds as they landed. Luckily, it didn’t last all night. I snuck out of the hotel to walk over to Vic Baboo’s Cafe for dinner. I got to order some reasonable Indian food. Although there were other travelers at the Cafe, as well as some locals, I barely talked with anyone and felt a bit conspicuous eating alone. I wandered back to the hotel and crashed out early.

View From Room at Fosua Hotel, Kumasi, Ghana View From Room at Fosua Hotel, Kumasi, Ghana View From Room at Fosua Hotel, Kumasi, Ghana

The next morning, I ate breakfast in the room, then headed out to try to get a taxi to the National Cultural Center complex. Eventually, I caught a cab there. I arrived in front of a building where a ceremony involving lots of women was taking place. I asked a woman out front and she sent me over to the administration building where another woman pointed me to the women-run craft center. I bought an Akweba wood carving that is a fertility charm.

Prempeh II Statue, Prempeh II Museum, Kumasi, Ghana Sign, Prempeh II Museum, Kumasi, Ghana Talking Drums, Prempeh II Museum, Kumasi, Ghana

National Cultural Complex, Kumasi, Ghana Womens Craft Shop, National Cultural Complex, Kumasi, Ghana

Then, I walked over to the Prempeh II Museum which contains a lot of history about the Ashanti people and particularly that king, including some talking drums, the slit drum style. After the museum, I walked over to the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital where, in the courtyard near the hospital, a small museum houses a sword which has been in the ground for three centuries. According to legend, an Ashanti sorcerer drew the Golden Stool from the sky at this place. If anyone succeeds in pulling out the sword, the legend goes, the Ashanti kingdom will collapse.

Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Sword in Ground, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Painting of Okomfo Anokye, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana

Painting of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, King of Asante Kingdom, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Wooden Sculptures, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Bas Relief of Okomfo Anokye, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana

Carving of Asante King, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Photograph of Asante King in Magical Garment, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Painting of Asante King, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana

Sculpture of Okomfo Anokye Receiving the Golden Stool, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana Painting of Asante King Wearing Magical Garb, Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi, Ghana

Walking back from the hospital after unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a taxi, I met a nice fellow along the way who was on his day off from a job within the diamond industry.

Monument, Kumasi, Ghana

We stopped for a drink on the way and he invited me back to his place to meet his family, but I went back to the hotel instead. I ate lunch at a restaurant one floor below the hotel, during which I conversed with a fellow from Holland(?) off to meet some friends he had met on the Internet. I was a bit worried for him, but he didn’t seem concerned.

Snafus on the Way to Accra

I boarded the Air Senegal flight in Bamako worried because it left late for Abidjan. That meant that I and several other guys missed our onward flight to Accra on Air Emirates. The following Emirates flight to Accra was in two days! So I opted to purchase an Air Ivoire ticket (because they wouldn’t accept the Emirates ticket) and to seek a refund for the Emirates flight later on. I ended up spending the night on Air Senegal’s dime at the airport hotel in Abidjan. The Abidjan airport is quite nice and modern. I met a couple of women there, as well as a creepy guy who tried to scam me as I was eating my dinner, also paid by Air Senegal, as was breakfast the next morning. I actually managed to get a lot of work done on the book since I had no distractions in the airport hotel, then during the eight hours after checking out and before the departure of the Air Ivoire flight.

I felt quite triumphant boarding that flight, despite a nasty airline employee who told me that the yellow rice sack I used to carry my excess luggage was not aesthetique (esthetic). She forced me to pay to have the sack wrapped in plastic and check it in rather than carry it on. OK, so I finally arrived in Accra and – guess what? — my bag checked in at Bamako hadn’t made it to Accra, despite several possible flights on which it could be sent.

After getting the runaround between three different lost luggage counters, I managed to file a report. I also noted the sign on the way to baggage claim that said (paraphrased): “Pedophiles and other sexual deviants are not welcome in Ghana. If you have come here to engage in such activities, please leave.? I felt warm and welcome all over, especially since I had heard recently from Andre about the Ghana government arresting a British citizen who was found with pictures of him having sex with a man in Ghana – who was apparently also arrested. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a sting operation or an attempt at extortion. This, and a prior incident in Dakar left me feeling not at all sexy, and I remained that way, except for fantasies about foreign travellers, even until today.