THE UPPER EAST REGION
This region is the gateway to Ghana from Burkina Faso, which is the traditional crossroads for the trans-Saharan trade routes. The principal border posts from Burkina Faso are found at Hamale, Kapulima, Paga. Kulungugu, Kassena-Nankana. Bolgatanga (or 'Bolga' as it is known locally) is the capital of the region and has always been a meeting point for traders from Mali and Burkina Faso on their way south to Tamale and Southern Ghana.
In the middle of the market of the regional capital Bolgatanga, lies a large flat rock. Quite close to this area is the site where the settlers dug clay for building and polishing their houses. Clay in the Frafra language is "bolga" and rock is "tanga"- thus the place was named Bolgatanga. It is also referred to as the handicrafts capital of Ghana, and is famous for its intricately designed straw baskets, hats and smocks. If you find yourself here do visit the small interesting regional museum The main dishes of the Upper-East Region are similar to that of the Upper West, "TZ" or "Tuo Zafi" rice balls or Omo Tuo with groundnut soup or green leaves soups, beans, rice and cowpea or "Tubaani", koko with "koose". Beverages include pito and "Zom krom".
How to get there
Bolgatanga is north Tamale and takes an hour drive on newly constructed asphalt road through Walewale. Alternatively you can also come through Navrongo if you are from Burkina Faso
It is easier to get around in this town with some of the teenagers who are very eager, enthusiastic and proud of their town. Be surer to rent a Motorbike for easy movement and just for the fun of it.
CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL HERITAGE
Bargain for renowned straw hats, baskets, leather goods, metal goods, and traditional clothing in a northern market that is a part of the historic trans-Saharan trade routes. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, and chat with traders from the region, Mali, and Burkina Faso. about their wares.
Displays in this little Bolgatanga museum include music, hunting, jewellery, weaponry, and chief's possessions. Beautiful carved darkwood stools and a bronze ancestor vase are the highlights of the collection. Tongo Whistling Rocks
These rocks create a dramatic presence on the landscape outside Bolgatanga. Only 10km from the city, these rocks also make strange, ghostly whistling sounds during November and December, when the harmattan wind blows off the Sahara through the Northern Region.
Kulungugu Bomb Site
Kulungugu is a minor port of entry in the Bawku District, on the far eastern corner of Ghana's border with Burkina Faso. This is where in August 1962 an assassination attempt was made on the first President of the Republic, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. En route to Accra from >igning an accord with the President of Burkina Faso i Then Upper Volta) for the construction of the hydroelectric project on the Volta, a bomb was planted and blasted at a village school, where he made a short stopover. The bomb blast killed a young school child and injured others. A memorial stands at this site.
Paga is the major port of entry on the Ghana-Burkina Faso border. It is 40 km and a 45-minute drive from Bolga. Paga offers perhaps the most vivid insight into the heritage and vestiges of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, and the lives of captives on the 400-mile march to the South. A slave camp near the sacred crocodile pond provides evidence of the harsh realities of the captives. Holes dug in rocks, which served, as drinking troughs and eating bowls are very visible, as are slabs of rocks that served as auction blocks and graves.
Navrongo-Tono Irrigation Dam
In route to Navrongo is the Tono. A dam on the river is the basis of a major irrigation project. Local out growers produce vegetables and rice mainly. The The dam offers opportunities for water sports and relaxation at the guesthouse.
A short drive from Bolga is Pusiga. Legend has it that the founder and ancestor of the Mole-Dagbani kingdom, which extended from Ghana to Burkina Faso, finally settled in this town in the 13th Century. Legend has it that he died here and "buried himself. Where his palace once stood, and where he "buried himself is now a thicket that is revered and treated as a shrine by the local people. Beyond the legend, visitor infrastructure and interpretation is currently unavailable at the shrine.
Thirty minute drive and 18km northwest of Bolgatanga is Navrongo. The key attraction in this town, which is also a major educational center, is the architecturally unique Catholic Cathedral. Also Known as Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, was built in 1906 and is believed to be the last remaining Mud cathedral in, it has mud walls and a traditionally decorated interior. The Catholic Church has recently initiated conservation measures to preserve this icon. Tourists interested in the Christian heritage of Northern Ghana will enjoy touring this Cathedral. Wuriyanga
This ancient mosque, about southeast of Bawku, was built by Muslim missionaries. It showcases typical Sudanese architecture from about 300years ago.
Naa Gbewaa's Shrine
Located in Pusiga, near Bawku, this shrine marks the spot where the founder of the Mamprusi-Mosie-Nanumba-Dagomba Kingdom, is believed to have disappeared into the ground at the news of the death of his son.
WILDLIFE AND NATURE RESERVES
In Siring and the Bawku area, wildlife species such as the elephant and roan antelope can be found here.
Paga Crocodile Pond
Paga is noted for its sacred pond, which is a sanctuary for crocodiles. The crocodiles are said to be totems for the people of Kassena, who reside in Paga and the surrounding communities. It is believed that each native of Paga has a corresponding crocodile representing each person's soul. Local tradition has it that there have been actual instances when deaths of important personalities in the community coincided with that of some crocodiles. The reptiles are normally enticed out of the pond by the whistling of the caretaker and the brandishing of a fowl, which the crocodiles quickly snatch with their snouts. If you are courageous, you can sit on, or hold the beast's tail for a good camera pose. The caretaker charges a fee for the fowl and basic interpretation.
Sirup/ ,Wura/s and Traditional Arts
30km off the Bolga-Navrongo Road, murals done mainly b) the women of Sirigu await visitors. Women in this village are committed to keeping threatened traditional arts alive. They also sell baskets, pottery, and other crafts, which are both a livelihood and a proud tradition for the villagers.
Bicycling to the Tongo Rocks and Shrine
The oracle here, consulted mainly by the Ashanti's, resides in a cave. People come to ask predictions, advice, ind cures from the oracle. Pilgrims make ritual stops on their ascent to the cave, and nay also make offerings at the cave opening. Originally, locals carrying a fetish stone were attacked at this spot by i swarm of bees. This event caused the people to venerate tbe place as powerful.
7ne Gologo or Golib festival is celebrated by the Telensis who reside at Tenzug. The period of celebration is March/April every year. The significance of the festival is lo appeal to the gods for good rains and successful fanning seasons.
It is held at Paga, Chiana, Kayoro in the Paga/Chiana and Kayoro Traditional Areas between November and February. It is a thanksgiving offering for good harvest. During the festival, the people display stalks of their first harvest of millet as a sign of sacrifice, and thankfulness to the gods.
It is celebrated by the Kusasis in the Bawku Traditional Ilea in November and December every year. Its I .ticance is to give thanks to the gods for good harvest. There are hosts of sacrifices followed by merry-making :o climax it.
This is the annual festival of the people of Sandema in the Builsa. It is held in December. It is celebrated through the display of war dance by various communities. There is also a durbar of the chiefs and people to climax it.
Adaakoya is celebrated at Bolgatanga and Zuarungu by the Gurunsis. It is held between January and February cry year. The festival serves to give thanks to the gods for good harvest. The mode of celebration is through various sacrifices followed by drumming and dancing. The climax is a durbar of the chiefs and people.
This is the festival of the people of Zaare who are rredominantly blacksmiths. The Festival symbolizes the "Kuure" which is the Gurune word for hoe. The hoe is their main tool for farming and for that matter, livelihood. It is usually held in January/February every year. It is Characterized by various sacrifices and later followed by drumming and dancing
As a thanksgiving offering, the Tengana Festival is held at Balungu, Winkongo and Pwalugu, all in the Tongo Traditional Area. It is one of the festivals for the Telensis. It is climaxed by traditional music and dancing amidst general merry-making.
The Damba festival is celebrated by the Mamprusis. The main venue of the celebration is Bawku and neighbouring towns. It is celebrated between July and August. The Significance of Damba festival is to mark the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.
Boaram is the festival for the Talensis in the Bongo Tradition Area. It is held between October and November every year. Its significance is to give thanks to the gods for a good season and lots of sacrifices are made to the gods.
For More Information Contact;
The Ghana Tourist Board Upper
East, Bolgatanga Information Services Dept
P.O. Box 395, Bolgatanga Tel: [233-72] 3416