HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Feb. 13, 2006

Cokato woman finds hospitality, happiness in Ghana

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Amanda (Holt) Boadi-Aboagye found Ghana to be the most hospitable place she has ever seen.

“Everyone was happy,” said Boadi-Aboagye (pronounced bwady ah bwa ji.)

The Ghanians happiness, despite the fact they live in a third-world country and that there’s a great difference between the “haves and the have-nots,” was the most striking feature of her trip to the west African country.

“By far, it was the best vacation I’ve ever had,” she said.

The people welcomed her largely, she said. They love to “celebrate, party, invite you over, serve you food. Very hospitable,” said Boadi-Aboagye, a former Cokato resident.

She and her husband, Kojo, left their home in Orono Dec. 30 to go to her sister-in-law’s wedding in Tema, Ghana. Boadi-Aboagye met her husband at college in Arizona, where he was studying architecture.

Half of the population in Ghana is Christian so the wedding ceremony was very similar to weddings in the Dassel Cokato area, Boadi-Aboagye said.

A wedding celebration in Ghana lasts two and a half days, though. The Sunday following the wedding ceremony, the guests put on traditional Ghanian clothing and went to church together. The bride wore her wedding dress. The women wore brilliantly colored hand-woven dresses, including hats and head dresses, she said.

Some of the men wore colorful robe-like garments. After a three and a half hour church service, the partying resumed. “Everyone in Ghana, they like to celebrate,” said Boadi-Aboagye.

They like to dance, eat spicy food and come together to have fun, Boadi-Aboagye said. She especially enjoyed her husband’s grandmother. The Boadi-Aboagye family called her “Mrs.” She was shy, but always happy.

“She was always concerned about family members,” Boadi-Aboagye said.

After the elaborate wedding celebration, Boadi-Aboagye and her husband, an architect with RSP Architects of Minneapolis, toured as much of Ghana as they could in the time they had left.

“I didn’t expect it to be as industrialized as it was,” she said.

Boadi-Aboagye even managed to go to a Rotary International meeting while in Ghana. Up until 1957 it was a British colony, so Ghana has a British style government with a parliament and prime minister. Her in-laws’ next door neighbor was a former dignitary in the Ghanian government, so the Boadi-Aboagyes got to meet ambassadors and officials from many other countries, she said.

The highlight of her tour, however, was seeing the rain forest at Kakum National Park, about three hours from Accra, the capitol city. Boadi-Aboagye was amazed at the beauty of it. “It’s huge. It’s just green, lush,” she said.

They visited a game reserve there and saw wild chimps and baboons. As they climbed the trails to the seven hanging bridges, she could hear exotic birds in the towering trees, Boadi-Aboagye said.

The hanging bridges consisted of a narrow plank dangling high above the forest canopy by ropes.

“Once you start, you have to finish. You can’t go back. I’m not kidding. Scary. But it’s so rewarding,” she said.

The view from the hanging bridges was spectacular but terrifying.

No one had ever fallen from the bridge, but that didn’t stop Boadi-Aboagye from feeling petrified, she said.

Ghana is also very hot and humid. The exertion from climbing up the trail to the bridges and working their way across them was relieved by a drink of fresh coconut milk at the end, she said.

The Boadi-Aboagyes also toured the dam at Lake Volta. It was similar to the Hoover Dam in the United States, in that it produced electricity not only for all of Ghana but also for three other countries as well, she said.

In addition, they toured the art center in Accra, went to the beach as much as they could, and visited the little markets that lined the highways into rural Ghana.

The Boadi-Aboagyes also visited Cape Coast, where the slave castles were. This is where the slave trade started and it was made into a museum, she said.

The slaves were herded down stone tunnels into tiny underground cells with no light, and no windows for air. One damp, dark cell was packed with 60 people at once. When the door was slammed shut, all the people suffocated. “No one survived,” Boadi-Aboagye said.

The people who managed to survive the slave castles were led through a door called “point of no return,” and sold into slavery, never to return to Ghana, she said.

Boadi-Aboagye had to return to the United States Jan. 15 to her job at Holt Motors and Howard E. Morris Agency Inc. of Cokato. She is hoping the next time she goes to Ghana she will have more time to explore the little villages to the north in rural Ghana.

“I enjoyed every single minute. There wasn’t one dull thing,” Boadi-Aboagye said.

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