Category Archives: Ghana


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Africa Dispatch: Ghana

Ghana cell: +233-245831859
Thuraya Sat phone: +88216-51071135

Dear all,

Let’s face it. I’m not really in the mood for writing.
I’m walking up and down in the living room. I enter the kitchen in search for food. I’m looking Chiho over the shoulder while she is editing our latest video, which will be online by the time you read this. ( Back to the computer. There’s no escape.

We are in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Our friend Jane, who has been living and working as a freelance photographer here for the last six months (, arranged for us to stay at a place of a friend who is currently out of town. It’s a lovely little house with a safe driveway for the Land Rover in front of it. Yesterday night we slept in a real bed for the first time since we left Dakar about one and a half months ago. I never thought I could enjoy a hot shower so much.
Chiho and I both like camping with our vehicle a lot, but we were also reminded that there is an actual reason why people generally live in houses and not in cars. It’s far more comfortable. After having experienced great hospitality in Dakar, our buds were saved for a second time by a fellow photographer and we are grateful to be able to stay here for three days while we work on our computers and run errands in the city like stocking up on food and supplies, getting visas and doing some repairs on the Land Rover.

From Bamako, the capital of Mali, from where I sent my last dispatch, we drove along the great Niger River to Segou and Djenne, a small but historically important town and the home of a spectacular mosque, the largest mud brick structure in the world. Each year after the end of the rainy season a festival is held where thousands of men volunteer to remodel the building and coat it with a fresh layer of dark brown mud. When we visited the town the rainy season was still in full swing, though, and we were wading through ankle deep mud and puddles of water and sewage. Despite Djenne’s attractions and sights, my memory of the place is slightly overshadowed by impressions of feverish, sleepless nights and exhausting days spend commuting between the whole-in-the-ground toilet and the cod in the back of the Land Rover. Somewhere along the way I had caught a bacteria or virus that seemed to be determined to make me loose all my bodily fluids and about 10 per cent of my weight within hours. It was a miserable experience.
Four days, an endless flow of a special salt and sugar emulsion with a funny strawberry taste and a serious antibiotic treatment later, I started to feel a little better and was even able to slowly return to eating solid food.
A phone examination by my father, who is a doctor, saved me again, like so many times before. Not having to face these troubles alone, but with Chiho at my side providing me with tea, white rice and toilet paper (quickly!!), made a huge difference. Individuality, stubbornness and the determination to do things alone are great things, but man, I was happy not to be alone in Djenne.

Although I was still a little weak, we were in good spirits and happy to be on the move again, when we drove on to Mopti and a village called Bandiagara. There we hired a local guide for two days who showed us around several villages of the Falaise de Bandiagara, a fascinating rock formation that stretches over about 150 Kilometers through the dry and generally flat plains of the Sahel. The villages that are lined up like a string of pearls along the base of this escarpment are inhabited by the Dogon people, one of the better known African tribes, who’s members until very recently lived a traditional way of life only minimally influenced by the outside world. Today Coca Cola, Motorola and Adidas are just as present here as they are everywhere else in Africa and the world. And although the Dogon people are still mainly living in traditional mud huts, are tending their fields like they did generations ago, are not connected to the electricity grid, and keep their traditions alive, like mask dances for example, that they are regularly performing for tourist groups and at local festivities, the days of the great African tribes are over. Education, tourism, the introduction of money as a means to trade goods and the wide availability of western and Chinese made products have reached even the remotest corners of our planet. It is sometimes hard to tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing in my opinion. It is a historical event and it results in both, terrible losses and great improvements. Who am I to judge. Continue reading