A Declaration of Love
Akwaaba – Welcome to Ghana.
That is one of the first things you will see when exiting the plane at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. What comes next, depends on you. It depends on what you want to see, do, and experience and to what extent you are willing to involve yourself in the life of the country and its people.
It doesn’t matter if you’re simply enjoying a short holiday at the beautiful beaches, travelling through the whole country from north to south, or planning a longer stay to dive into the Ghanaian life – Ghana has many facets worth discovering. However some things are sure: Ghana is colorful, loud, odor-intense, unbelievably kind, incredibly diverse, and based on this alone it’s definitely worth a longer visit.
In Western media reports on Africa, we see and hear about crisis, conflict, famine, war and disease: Africa, the Dark Continent. And yes, all those things can be found in Africa and we have to be aware of it. But there is so much more that we so easily tend to overlook and forget because that is Africa, the continent of many colors. And in exactly this kind of Africa, Ghana is a small, colorful gateway.
„Akwaaba“, Welcome! – That’s how you’ll feel welcomed. The Ghanaians will make it easy for you. Wherever you go, you will always find people that welcome you with a smile, guide you, and take their time to chat with you, dance, sing and laugh with you. People, who will find you a place to sleep, cook for you, show you interesting corners and things, and help you in times of trouble.
All of these things you will experience as matters of course in Ghana, as natural as the music you can hear on the streets, roaring out of the all the little corner shops, as natural as the intense colors, the chicken, goats and sheep on the streets, the thousands of different odors emanating from the little houses and local snack stands- the ‘chop-bars’, the overcrowded local buses ‘Trotros’, the small talk that you’re going to have everywhere and basically with everybody and the warmth that is given to you from all sides.
On your journey through Ghana you will meet wonderful people, talk with them, discuss, laugh with them, celebrate and dance, like you have never danced before. You’re going to meet vendors, teachers, government officials, chat with students and hair-dressers, take advice from older ladies and gentlemen, conduct endless discussions about religion and make faces with children.
You are going to see how cities change into villages and how these start vanishing in the country. You are going to drive along the coast, swim in the Atlantic, gaze at how the fisherman are pulling their fishnets from the sea. You are going to climb mountains, bathe under waterfalls. You will get lost in gigantic markets, taste the local dishes and drinks and fall in love with all the colorful traditional fabrics.
On your journey you will listen to many different languages, and new names will be given to you; names that you won’t hear anywhere else but in Ghana. You will see and experience all of this and maybe – actually pretty likely – it is going to be much more than this. Because the colorful world of Ghana bares an individual story for everybody who is open to see and listen to it.
THE SITUATION IN GHANA:
Although sexual education is part of the Ghanaian curriculum, it does not go further than the biological definitions and the call for abstinence. The Ghanaian government is making first steps to utilize the public media to educate citizens about sexual health, however many questions stay unanswered and especially young people lack knowledge about sexual rights and sexuality.
Boa Nnipa aims to promote sexuality as a natural part of life. Every human has the right to experience and express sexuality on their own terms as well as the right to sexual self-determination and sexual education.
Sexuality as a taboo
In Ghana public opinion is highly influenced by conservatism and religion. In the South, Ghana is largely Christian while in the North Islam plays a larger role. This leads to sex and sexuality being regarded as a taboo. However children and young adults are being confronted with sex in the media, especially on the internet, but a lack of education leads to many unanswered questions. For example, many girls believe they are ill when they first have their period.
1.9 percent of the Ghanaian society is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS (In Germany this rate is 0.1 %). In comparison to some southern African states this rate is relatively low, however HIV and AIDS remain a serious issue. Although awareness about these diseases has increased, there is still a lack of information readily available. Also in regard to other sexually transmitted diseases very little is done to inform the population.
While in Germany the average teenager will be 17 or older when having sex for the first time, the average age in Ghana is 15. In some parts of Ghana 13% of girls between the ages of 13-19 are pregnant. This can lead to serious health issues. Moreover, these girls often times face scrutiny from their community and in most cases they are unable to finish their education.
Even though sexual abuse is a wide spread problem in Ghana, it is often not spoken about and in many cases stays unprosecuted. Especially abuse in schools through fellow students and teachers is a widespread issue.
Female genital mutilation
Through activist work and campaigns, female genital mutilation has greatly decreased. This work needs to continue as in some parts of Ghana genital mutilation is still practiced.