Want to build your dream home in Ghana? Litigation-free registered land available for immediate development. Stunning views. Quick sale. Grab a piece of paradise while you still can.
Situated less than an hour’s drive inland of Accra, the green and breezy hills of Adamorobe (more popularly known as “Aburi South”) has long been a choice destination for local day trippers, as well as expatriates wanting to live or hang out in a relatively cool malaria-free part of town.
If you’ve never travelled from Accra along the Madina-Aburi Road toward Oyibi before, or haven’t done so in recent years, you’ll be surprised at the amount of real estate development popping up along the route. By the time you’ve reached the fertile hills of Adamorobe, you may have already heard about how Regimanuel Grey Estates have bought up large chunks of this green and pleasant land for a future gated housing development. The plans are drawn. The roads have been demarcated. Naturally, land prices in and around the immediate vicinity have shot up as a result.But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to avoid the conformity of gated community living, preferring instead to create your own mark on the virgin landscape. So, imagine for a moment… fashioning your own dream home in Ghana, strategically placed atop a hillside of splendid views, overlooking said gated community and the sprawling townships beyond.
Legend has it that “a hunter once came to this place that is now Adamorobe. He found the environment rich in animals for hunting and plants for consumption, especially pineapples, ‘aborɔbɔ’ in Akan. He decided to settle there and referred to his settlement as ‘medan m’aborɔbɛ’, meaning ‘I depend on my pineapples.'” But although the plural of ‘aborɔbɛ’ should be ‘morɔbɛ’, the name stuck anyway, and a new settlement was born.
The town of Adamorobe itself is famous for its unique sign language for the deaf, but it is perhaps still best known locally for the cultivation of sweet fresh pineapples. These days, however, it is a completely new set of residents that are driving up land prices and building gleaming new properties along the horizon, seduced primarily by the area’s green surroundings and its close proximity to metropolitan Accra.
The available parcel of land for sale is a registered, residential double-plot with full title and a 95-year lease, measuring approximately 100 x 161 square feet (0.37 acres), and situated less than a 60-minutes drive from Accra Central. The land is offered with preliminary design plans for a large courtyard house on the site. These architectural drawings include layouts for a well-appointed master bedroom on the first floor, plus two secluded guest bedrooms below, each with its own private courtyard garden and large glass windows that offer countryside views.Our aim was to create an enchanting courtyard house with a quiet hideaway feel, using pathways, fences, windows, walls and trees, so even guests could enjoy their rooms from their own private garden space. We added into the mix a swimming pool, study, function rooms, gym, separate self-contained court house for staff, an office, meeting room, and plenty sculptured garden areas. After several design attempts, it seemed near perfect.
But creating your own dream home is a very personal thing, just as it was always the view that drew me to this place. A panoramic sweep across the hills of Adamorobe and all the dusty township spread out below—while up in these hills a light cool breeze always makes you feel relaxed from the troubles of the day.
No points for guessing that this spot was supposed to be mine. Yes, one of two locations I’d found in Ghana where I thought I could build my dream home. Now that I’ve taken on additional development projects, however, I’m forced to sell this place to fund other financial commitments. I’m not too pleased about it, obviously. But I still believe this hilltop double-plot would make an excellent location for a family home, rented apartments, a hotel or investment property.
I hate to let it go. Make me an offer!
Vibrant, evocative, expressive; a European Christian religion fuelled by the rhythms and traditions of West Africa, yet totally indigenous to Trinidad; the Shouter Baptist faith has emerged from a history of persecution to occupy a unique place in Caribbean culture.
Once ‘Shouter’ was a dirty word in Trinidad, a term imposed on its followers by a mainstream society that saw their practices – dancing, shaking, falling to the ground, loudly invoking the spirit of the Lord – as unseemly and anti-Christian. Today its status in Trinidadian life is reflected by the observance of an annual holiday on March 30th to celebrate the repeal of the Shouters Prohibitive Ordinance, the law that forced thousands of Shouter Baptists to practice their faith in secrecy for years, for fear of brutal reprisals by the police.
Much has changed. There is some dispute over the origins of the Shouter religion – various theories place its roots in Africa, North America, St. Vincent and Grenada – but what is beyond dispute is that it has evolved and grown over time to become entirely unique and indigenous to Trinidad, a rich conflation of the many, often competing, cultures of the island and unaffiliated to any foreign religious organisation.
While, at a local level, the organisation and hierarchy of the Shouter Baptist faith can be incredibly complex (with countless ranks and positions, such as Leader, Mother, Shepherd, Watchman, Captain and Healer), there has traditionally been no formal organisational structure. Churches – or ‘camps’ – were founded according to the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. The faith blossomed as hundreds of independent churches were established all over the island, each practicing their own local variation of the faith. Today, a degree of organisation has developed, with the three main archdioceses being incorporated in 1985. However, many churches still remain autonomous, either under the umbrella of one of the archdioceses or functioning in complete independence. It is a religion that remains spontaneous, unpredictable and driven by the unseen hand of the Lord.
The once-shameful ‘Shouter’ label can be traced back to the influence of this unseen hand. Shouter services are at once highly ritualised and incredibly spontaneous. They traditionally begin with the ringing of a bell and the lighting of candles, followed by the recitation of a liturgy, the singing of hymns and ritual handshaking and the touching of all those gathered. The ‘Leader’ delivers a sermon and there is more singing and praying and, all the while, the worshippers clap hands, stamp feet and cry out in praise of the Lord. They clap, stamp and build up into a religious ecstasy until they ‘catch the Spirit’ – the Holy Spirit visits the worshipper, who begins to sway, shout, speak in tongues and eventually fall to the ground in a trance-like state.
Another fascinating practice of the Shouter faith is that of ‘mourning’, a period of ‘Godly sorrow’ lasting for seven days or more, in which the ‘mourner’ prays, meditates and is forbidden from speaking, eating, bathing or any other comfort, lying for the duration on the bare floor of a mud hut. In a ritual derived from the religion’s African influence, the mourner is ‘called’ by the Leader to go though the mourning period, which is meant to symbolise death and resurrection, a spiritual journey from which the mourner emerges cleansed of their ‘impure’ being and possessed of spiritual gifts. Or, as Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke, of the Ark of The Covenant Spiritual Baptist Church in Laventille puts it: “In psycho-biological terms, the rite of ‘mourning’ actually involves a period of intense physical sensory deprivation as the initiate is deprived of light and movement and receives minimal sustenance.”
It was such practices as ‘mourning’, as well as the loud and expressive elements of Shouter services – which drew disapproval from mainstream society for ‘disturbing the peace’ – that led to the colonial government of the time banning the Shouter Baptist faith from 1917 to 1951. While conservative elements of society deemed Shouter rituals and practices barbaric and ungodly, it is now felt that underlying this was a sense of embarrassment and distaste for the vivid evocation of their African roots – now considered ‘uncivilised’ – that these practices involved. The shame and self-hatred bred by their colonizers led the Trinidadian people to suppress a unique and vibrant tradition in an attempt to flee from their past.
The Shouter Baptists suffered 34 years of suffering and persecution, forbidden from worshipping and beaten and arrested if suspected of doing so. Yet they survived, slowly organising themselves from a disperse company of individual churches into a body – The West Indian Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith, under the leadership of the Grenadian-born Elton George Griffith – that was able to successfully lobby for the repeal of the Shouters Prohibitive Ordinance in 1951.
Now they practice freely across Trinidad and have spread their unique brand of African-flavoured Protestantism across the Caribbean and beyond-to the United States, to Canada and to England. Singing, dancing, hollering: the Shouters are here now too. Catch the Spirit.
The young American white couple a few doors away from me are leaving Ghana today. So I’m told. “Too poor,” they say. “One minute, water no lights. Next minute, lights no water.” They’ve had enough. After five years of working to improve education in this country, where their two children were born, they’re packing their bags and hauling their doll-like offsprings back to the good ole US of A; Colorado, I believe.
I’m relaying this story to you, second-hand; from one of their hired help. For in the two years I’ve lived here, I’ve never actually seen the parents, but their children have fascinated me. Here they are in my yard with their Ghanaian nanny. Lovely, well-mannered kids. Never say a word to me. They just stare. Though, I hear, they’ll point out “Rasta house” to anyone in passing. They speak Twi, too, apparently. But I can never see them without thinking of those ‘Children of the Damned.’ Remember that film, ‘Village of the Damned‘ or the sequel with those scary looking blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids? I know it’s wrong, but that’s what these two remind me of…
They share the same milk-white almost luminous, pale skin tone as the children in that movie – even though it was in black and white, if memory serves me well – combined with the brightest of fine, blonde hair, cherub-like features, and these piercing blue eyes; all of which really sets them apart in this sub-Saharan environment. Yet they seem to have no problems at all walking around all day under a scorching sun that never seems to darken their skin but just bleaches their hair even brighter.
Then a few weeks ago, it hit me like a rock when I met their mother in passing. Imagine a tall, powerfully built, Amazonian woman the colour of wet sand, with thick, kinky auburn hair not too unlike my own, and firm, strong, long arms and legs, and you will get the picture. I’d been looking out for two white parents all this time, but this woman was clearly not white. Being biracial (half Ghanaian and half Norwegian) didn’t make it any easier to imagine how this ‘black woman’ could have given birth to these two ‘white children’, until you met her husband.
This slim, pale, blonde American man with a touch of clever around the eyes and a sense of something fragile in him had clearly passed on a visual stamp from his side of the gene pool. But it was their mother’s physical strength and vitality that had infused these kids with an almost alien-like durability in this white façade that made them totally stand-out. It made them “pop” as folks like to say these days.
Picture Beyoncé painted ‘white-face’ but with that same African body and spirit and energy, and you might get close to what I’m trying to convey. It’s what one of my academic friends used to refer to as “that look” in “people of ‘dubious’ ethnicity.” It’s what had kept me fascinated by these kids all along without really knowing why. I could just sense that there was something else. Something else underneath that had made the surface appearance almost like a mutation. The 25 percent African blood visually muted but very much there in every other respect. Fascinating. And yet it often happens the other way around, but where society only ever sees ‘Black.’
Just goes to prove the myth of racial purity. Am I making sense? I’ll miss them when they’re gone.