About Ghana - About Axim

Note: Because we're often asked for advice for traveling to Ghana, we offer a few unofficial helpful tips here.

Map of AfricaGhana is a West African country, bounded on the north by Burkina Faso, on the east by Togo, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by Côte d'Ivoire. Formerly, it was a British colony known as the Gold Coast and was led to independence by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the 6th of March, 1957.

Ghana became the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from colonial rule. The country is named after the ancient empire of Ghana, from which the ancestors of the present inhabitants are thought to have migrated. Ghana is a democracy, having completed the 3rd successful election cycle for parliament and president most recently in December 2008. Ghana does retain its traditional chieftainship system, as well.

English is the official language and is used in schools from about 4th grade level. Most Ghanaians also speak one or more "home" languages.

In 2013, the World Bank ranked Ghana 134 out of 185 countries in GDP-PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). Ghana provides tuition-free education through junior high. In 2015, according to UNICEF, only about 15% of Ghanaians have access to improved sanitation. Five million use water from unsafe sources. According to GhanaWeb, about 52% of Ghanaians were living at less than $2/day in 2013, and 27% between $2 and $4/day.

That said, we attest to Ghana as a lively, interesting, colorful, peaceful, welcoming country. We enjoy investing our energies and resources there, because the Ghanaian people themselves are upbeat and proud to be Ghanaians.

About Axim

Axim Town ViewAxim is the Capital of the Nzema East District, an area encompassing 2194 square kilometers (9.8 percent of the total area of the Western Region). This relatively poor town has recently become a municipality. The population of greater Axim, including nearby villages is approximately 33,000. There is a modest hospital in town. The economy is based on fishing, subsistence farming, and government services.

Axim is near Ivory Coast to the west, and the nearest substantial city, Takoradi, is about a one-hour drive to the east. It is about 150 miles west of Accra, about an eight-hour drive. Recently oil was discovered some 50 miles off the coast of Axim. It remains to be seen what effect that may have on the life and economy of the area. Axim people are mostly Nzema. Most speak Nzema, Fante, English, and smatterings of other Ghanaian languages. Schools teach French or Arabic, as well.

Our masthead (above) shows the fishing boats right along the waterfront, which is the Atlantic Ocean.

St Antonio CastleThe "castle", Fort Fort St. Antonio, is the center of the town. The Dutch captured it in 1642. It was ceded to Britain in 1872. For some 300 years, it was a center for trading gold, slaves, timber, cotton and other products. Today the castle houses some offices and has some areas historically preserved to demonstrate how it was used as a slave trading center.

Kundum 2007Every September, Axim hosts the Kundum Festival. It coincides with the fish season. Families return to their "family homes." Deceased ancestors are remembered and mourned. Family problems are sorted out in peaceful ways, helped by the traditional elders if necessary. There is much dancing, drumming, and feasting. Traditional leaders and honored guests are ceremoniously carried in palanquins, shaped like their fishing canoes, and decorated with flowers.

In 2007, our group was honored when our leader, Maryanne Ward, was carried in a palanquin. No one knows for sure how far back this festival goes, but we do know that a Dutch traveler recorded a Kundum Festival in the 17th century.

Axim Traditional Council-Chief AwulaeGhana is a democracy, but it also retains its chieftaincies. The Paramount Chief of the Lower Axim Traditional Council is King Awulae Attibrukusu III. Axim also has a Queen Mother, shown here walking beside Awulae. The system is somewhat similar to that of our own American Indians, where the tribe controls land and has rights within the democratic system.

The symbol of the royal house is a chicken nesting on a pole, signifying the need of the King and the royal family to nurture the people. The man carrying the symbol pole is the chief linguist. He is knowledgeable about Ghanaian laws, customs, and protocol and typically is the spokesman for the King in formal public forums.

Wood carriersOrdinary Axim folks work hard. They mostly cook with wood or charcoal over a small pit. They pound their fufu. Their homes are modest, their families strong. The majority of adults have cellphones, which are inexpensive, and a wonderful way to keep up with the extended (kinship) matriarchal families which are large and emotionally close. The big challenge is to find a way to keep them charged since electrical power is quite intermittent.

Grandma and Children

Most find any work they can. Many women work as market traders; many men fish or do construction. About 80% of the primary school age children are in school, both boys and girls. We want to increase that to 100% by helping the poorest families with school costs.

About 25% are Muslim. There are several Christian churches in town. It seems to us most blend their traditional spiritual traditions in with these more recent faiths.

General Information and News

  • For a very helpful compendium of information on Ghana, compiled by Ghanaians, see Ghana Web
  • Ghana Review International compiles articles from various news sources on a daily basis.
  • The Ghana Districts website focuses on info about governments and economics in each of the Ghana districts.

Facts and Figures

The following websites provide good information about Ghana:

Good Books

  • My First Coup D'etat and Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa by John Dramani Mahama (President of Ghana)
  • King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
  • African Friends and Money Matters by David Maranz
  • How to Work in Someone Else's Country by Ruth Stark
  • A History of Ghana by F.K. Buah
  • Ghana: The Bradt Travel Guide by Philip Briggs
  • For a fantastic listing of African books, check out the Africa Book Centre, based in London, UK