Friday, 27 August 2010

More exploration of Kumasi

21 August 2010
After the end of the volunteer conference we had some more time in the next day as we had booked our return tickets for the bus departing in the evening. We visited Manhiya Palace. It is the former palace of the Asante King and it has been now converted into a museum. Again like our previous good experiences with the museums in Ghana, this was not an exception. Near the entry of the museum there is a shop. A guide at the museum told us to wait for some time as a very big group of school children had started their tour. We were mistaken feeling that he was just some person trying to lure us because he came forward for help uninvited and smiling too much. But we realised afterwards that he was really an authorised person.
The museum is small and charges very high fees to the foreigners but thanks to our volunteer identity cards and we have been getting some discounts on the tickets though paying more than the Ghanaians. I can now understand how the foreign tourists to India must be feeling when they are visiting places in India and paying higher fees than Indians for visiting the same place. The museum has collection of artefacts from various periods of Asante Kingdom.
After finishing the visit as we came out, some vendors came near us. One was preparing some custom made wrist bands. He had a very good skill of preparing it. He made it with the threads of different colours which were wrapped around a plastic band and created letter on the band with the threads. When we were busy getting this done many vendors most of them youths approached us trying to sell a number of things such as paintings, hats, bags etc. Most of them identified us as Indians and we had fun interacting with them. When asked about nationality, I answered one of them that I was a Pakistani. He was insistent on going to Pakistan with me. I told him that the country is not safe these days and it is always attacked by terrorists, but he was telling me that he was ready to go there and fight out his way with the terrorists. The bunch of vendors was very friendly and though we did not buy anything from them, they taught us the Asante way of hand shake.
Today twice in the day we came across prisoners walking on the road. Once it was on the road and the second time it was in the palace grounds. They were walking freely and the policeman was just present observing them at a distance. After seeing us they approached us and begged for money which we did not give it to them while the policeman did little to control them. I wonder how the whole system operates. They must be having very good time living in the Ghanaian prison it seems.
In Kumasi, being the centre of Asante culture, unlike any other cities in the south, one can find many people in the traditional Asante clothes. Men wear a cloth which is draped around their body and the style of wearing is like Buddhist monks. The colours of their cloths are very bright. As it started raining heavily we had to drop our plans to visit national centre for culture in Kumasi and visit a museum over there. We had to return to the hotel where we had kept our luggage and said bye to the members of our group sadly. Then we made our way to the bus station for the return journey to Bolgatanga while making ourselves mentally prepared for the late arrival of the bus and watching of Ghanaian and Nigerian witchcraft movies for the entire journey.
Manhiya Palace