I don’t normally write about my holidays on this site but since we took this holiday to explore the arts and crafts of Upper Eastern Ghana I thought you might be interested.
Ever since I arrived to Ghana the first organizations I discovered online which absolutely fascinated me were: SWOPA www.swopa.org
Unfortunately both of these places were far, far away from Accra. So they have been on my must visit list for three years now. I have to say it was totally worth it. My husband and I had a fabulous time staying at SWOPA which, other than the heat was perfect. When you stay there they offer you a guided tour of Sirigu village, into homes, to the market and to an orphanage. The organization also runs classes so we balanced sight seeing with classes.
Unfortunately GLish was closed but I would recommend chasing this up and see the ladies weave their stunning recycled baskets. Just email them to get more details.
Greg and I thoroughly enjoyed the classes at SWOPA. Personally, I have never made a basket before so thoroughly enjoyed that opportunity. The pottery techniques were much harder than they looked I found it VERY challenging but fascinating to watch. I wish I filmed it. I have never ever seen clay or pots being made this way before. It really was an incredible experience.
I had seen the Sirigu mural at Alliance Francise and was keen to learn about its meaning and symbolism. The earthy colours are because of the plants/pods and seeds they used to create the paint. The geometric designs represent leadership and calabash netting which is a sign of respect and hard work. They have stylized animals representing protection, peace, food, wealth- just to mention a few. When I did the painting workshop I learnt that they first draw with a piece of burnt wood, then they paint the black outlines, followed by the red and finally the white. Which was interesting because if I was copying one of their paintings I would have painted the white all over, filled in the red, followed with the black and then outline everything.
This was a fabulous trip which I would recommend to everyone living or visiting Ghana there is nothing more fulfilling than being challenged with new skills whilst still having time to explore new places.
Some more information if you are keen to visit:
“Share with us the joy of art and culture
Sirigu is a village in Northern Ghana, West-Africa. The village is well known for its traditional architecture, pottery and wall designing. Since 1997, more than 150 women of Sirigu have formed an organization for pottery and art (SWOPA: Sirigu women organisation of pottery and art). Their aim is to preserve and develop their traditional culture and to provide tourist services and produce high quality art that has its roots in the village culture.”
The guest house cost 28GHC per night, food was very good and huge for 8-12GHC, breakfast was 5GHC, we caught a share taxi from Tamale to Bolga for 30GHC pp, then got a taxi for 50GHC to SWOPA. Once you are there it is easy as Albert will arrange anything for you. He drove us to Sirigu market, Paga, Tongo, Bolga, GLish and back to Tamale for approximately 120GHC a day. They can sleep about 15 people at a time but the place is so peaceful I doubt you would ever find the place completely full.
If you want to contact them to organize your trip please call: +233 (0) 208315922/ +233 (0) 244822276 Ask for Albert or Francesca.