Updates from IBD: Ghana

Ghana IBD Team -Last Day in Accra….


Our Ghana IBD team is down to our final few hours in-country. For three of our four team-members it was our first time on the African continent, and it’s been a rich learning experience. Some of the things that we’ve learned during our stay:

  1. The two ways to get rich in Ghana, according to our friendly hotel staff (think Juju).
  2. You can buy anything from car jumper cables, to scrabble, to bubbles, while stuck in the considerable Accra traffic –however, our regular taxi driver advises against buying bread in traffic!
  3. It will take you at least an hour to get almost anywhere, but you’ll likely be told five minutes.
  4. When driving on smaller roads, watch out for the potholes and the goats!
  5. Our names had we been born Ghanaian, which would be based on the day of the week of our birth – Adjoa, Afia, Kojo and Kwasi Panyin.
  6. Order the Banku and grilled Tilapia.
  7. Starting a conversation about soccer or popular Ghanaian songs will instantly make you friends with just about anyone!

From the totality of our three weeks there will of course be many memories that we’ll take home. However, that in thinking about our time in Ghana, there are two experiences that will probably stay with me the most:

The first was our weekend excursion to Cape Coast and Elmina. We visited Cape Coast Castle, one of the largest slave trading sites run by the British in Colonial times. Of the estimated 12 million people captured and sold as slaves in the Americas, Cape Coast Castle housed up to 1,500 of them at a time in underground dungeons. The guidebook described the experience of seeing the dungeons as “cutting”, and it was. The conditions in which thousands of individuals were held for months at a time were unthinkable. For me, as the descendent of both slaves and slave owners, our Cape Coast Castle tour was a time to reflect on the important period in time when my own history, and American history, intersects so pointedly with Ghanaian.

The second experience that all of us will forever cherish was our opportunity to meet the staff, students, and alumni of our client institution, Ashesi University. Ashesi was founded to cultivate a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who will transform the African continent and lead it forward. As a team we were struck by not only the warmth of all of the staff members we interviewed, but also their thoughtful engagement, commitment, and receptivity to our work and recommendations. From students and alumni, we could see and understood firsthand the effectiveness, uniqueness, and value of an Ashesi education. Individuals described how their time time at Ashesi had shifted their worldviews and impacted their lives and trajectory. Some alumni have even chosen to continue to work at Ashesi after graduation and now contribute to building the Ashesi experience for students who are coming after them. Although our IBD project and time in Ghana have come to an end, we will all remain cheerleaders and supporters of Ashesi.

Goodbye (for now) and thank you Ghana and Ashesi!

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