The Ghana Files: Larabanga

The mud-and-stick mosque in Larabanga

Larabanga is a small village just a few kilometers away from Mole National Park. It is a popular stop for tourists because it is home to

The entrance is tiny so visitors are forced to bow in respect.

an impressive mosque made only of sticks and mud. The Brandt travel guide for Ghana says some pretty interesting things about Larabanga, that it is not a pleasant experience and you will be constantly hassled for money and donations. As a result, I was a little apprehensive to go. However, when a large group was departing from the park after our safari to go to Larabanga, I figured I should probably check it out.

Perhaps one of the major highlights for me from this day is the transportation. We asked the driver how many people could fit into the car, and he said it was “no problem.” When we approached the truck, we figured out why. Once the inside of the car was full, they started putting people ON TOP. I discovered as I traveled farther north that this is a fairly common practice. Once the car or tro-tro is full, just stick some people on top and you’re good to go. As I climbed onto the top of the truck, I thought… my mom would be so mad if she saw me right now.

Our guide Ibrahim teaches his class of 100+ students under this tree.

We were given a tour of the village, the school and the mosque (though we were not allowed inside). We learned a few interesting things along the way; for instance, the techniques that they use to build houses and other structures out of mud (there will be a post coming about just this topic, I found it so interesting!) Also, how women pound and process shea nuts to make pure shea butter. I bought a huge jar of hand-made shea butter for 1 Cede, what amounts to maybe 70 cents in the US! There were hordes of children following us, each one picked a person in the group to shadow. They held our hands the entire time.

The main tourist attraction in the town, the mosque was fairly interesting. Made only of sticks and mud, painted in white and black, with a tiny door so people would be forced to bow down as they enter. It was very cool to see, even if we weren’t allowed to go inside.

Another interesting part of the tour was a nearby school. Our guide happened to be a teacher at the school, he showed us his where he teaches – a tree in the courtyard of a school, with a bench underneath. He then showed us a tiny room in an unfinished cement building where he and his 100+ students would go if it was windy or raining.

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