Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Wondrous Tongo Hills

Week 8: The Wondrous Tongo Hills

Is there a better way to spend a cultural learning trip than to learn of a Chief who has twenty-three wives?

Youth Alive were lucky enough to be able to spend the first day of September and the end of the busy eighth week of placement with a visit to Tongo Hills. This was part of our cultural learning experience. It was interesting, striking and extraordinarily beautiful; it is set in such a rural location with breath-taking views. After walking miles, we were fortunate enough to see views for miles on reaching the top.

Brief History
Upon initial introduction of our guided tour, we were informed about the hiding cave where the people used to hide when they were captured for slavery and where the Chief took refuge; the hyena cave where hyenas were living; also, the area full of rocks which was once used as a classroom and could cater for around ten students due to the sheltered area. On top of the classroom, there is a rock placed much higher where the class were able to climb on top of to ring the bell. This was to create awareness for the nearby students in the villages so that they were able to come to the classes immediately.

Chief’s Palace
Upon entering the Chief’s Palace, there are a number of shrines and graves in place in order to enter the house. This is in order to protect the household from any attack from outsiders through spiritually. The graves are for the late chiefs and that place is meant for burial of any chief who passed away except any chief who succeed in the GOLOB festival and many others that will not be buried at the entrance of the chief palace. During this festival, they usually remove the top half of their clothing so that they are bare-chested. This is due to tradition. The Chief’s Palace has over 300 people living there.

The journey upwards
Due to the fact it is currently rainy season in Ghana, the rain strikes when you are least expecting it to. However we were somewhat optimistic this would not happen whilst we were clambering rocks and taking ‘candid’ photographs whilst at the top. We were able to take shelter underneath a rock cave until the rainfall passed.

Photograph showing Team Youth Alive; enjoying the cultural visit after visiting the Chief’s Palace.
Photographed (from left): Jasmine, Nancy, Leticia, Jude, Patience, Owen, Philip, Louise, Carla, Nana, Sally, the bus driver, Hope and Olivia. Photograph taken by Emma.

The nude ritual
Although we were also able to visit Tengzug Shrine which is situated a close walk from the Chief’s Palace, members of the public are only able to enter once granted permission from the caretaker. If a caretaker dies, in order to get a new caretaker they will have to go to the soothsayer for making a sacrifice. They believe that the soothsayer speaks to the Gods. The messages that God wants to give to the community must go through the soothsayer. It is thought to bring blessing and prosperity on entering. It goes without saying that we were not able to enter due to the fact that you have to remove your entire top half of all clothing in order to enter which goes against International Service regulations.  It is thought to be a ‘nude ritual’.
In terms of the powers of the shrine, it is believed that if you make a request upon the shrine it will come true. Previously, people have entered the shrine on the requests of many things such as desire for power and problems- their requests were granted.

Overall we all had a great day and learnt a lot about the History of Tongo Hills.

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