28 July 2013


Friday would be my last day with “#Ghanapilgrim13,” the pilgrimage to Ghana sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development. I would visit the notorious Cape Coast Castle, then St. Nicholas Seminary in Cape Coast, and then get in a car for the Accra airport. It had been a long week, long but also holy, and immensely gratifying.

Though Cape Coast was similar to Elmina, the dramatic effect of being there was not diminished. We visited squalid dungeons again, many more of them at Cape Coast than at Elmina. We heard the wrenching stories. We also saw the memorial of the first African to be ordained in the Church of England, Philip Quaque (1741-1816). At Cape Coast Castle, we were guided by a man who was as capable as our guide at Elmina Castle. We saw there a recent plaque, commemorating the visit of President and Mrs. Barak Obama in 2009.

Much of my reaction and reflection at Cape Coast was similar to me reflection at Elmina. Rather than repeat those words, I refer you to yesterday’s notes (see my 25 July entry here).

As I said yesterday, and at Elmina itself, one must be careful with words at these sacred places. Words simply fail to contain the horror, and the evil, and the sheer ignorance of what transpired at those two castles. Again, however, I must declare that I found the places holy. This is a pilgrimage for me, and I am seeking the Holy. Indeed, I am seeking God. I cannot describe how God was at Elmina and Cape Coast. Except that God was present in the witnesses and martyrs there. God was present in the suffering. Again, as I said yesterday: if God is not present in suffering, then God is not present anywhere. God is there, in the memories of suffering at Elmina and Cape Coast Castles.

From Cape Coast Castle, we drove a short distance to St. Nicholas Seminary at Cape Coast, the Anglican seminary for Ghana. Established in 1975, it is the only active seminary of the Anglican Church in the Province of West Africa. I was delighted to be there, and even more delighted to see my old friend, the dean, the Very Reverend Victor Atta-Baffoe. What a gracious and delightful man he is.

We pilgrims shared Eucharist together, in the chapel of St. Nicholas Seminary, with its beautiful crucifix above the altar. The Reverend Gay Jennings celebrated, and she invited us to share brief reflections in lieu of any formal sermon. Most of us did, expressing appreciation and gratitude to Ghana, to our hosts, to our leaders, and, indeed, to one another.

From the seminary, our group split up. For me, it was the end of my time with these fellow pilgrims. Alex Baumgarten, Bill Miller, and I were scheduled to fly from Accra on Friday night, while the rest would fly back on Saturday. They took a leisurely lunch back at the Elmina hotel, while Alex, Bill, and I got in a car for the three hour drive back to the Accra Airport. Trusting our wonderful driver, Emmanuel, we made it in plenty of time.

Then, when I landed back in Atlanta, via JFK in New York and via the Accra airport, my pilgrimage was over. In just under 24 hours, I traveled successfully from the crowded roads of Ghana to the crowded streets of Atlanta.

In conclusion, I give thanks for this Ghana pilgrimage. I thank Gay Jennings for the invitation, I thank Rob Radtke and the excellent staff at Episcopal Relief and Development for their guidance, and I thank Bishop Jacob Ayeebo and the ADDRO staff for their happy and beautiful hospitality. I especially thank my fellow pilgrims; what a holy and responsible group! I found God in the souls of my fellow pilgrims to Ghana.

Finally, I thank the people of Ghana.  Thank you for letting me come into your homes, ride on your roads, sense your ministries, and hear your needs. Thank you, too, for letting me enter something of your history. I will remember your joy and your pain, your generosity and your need.

Bishop Jacob prayed several times in his own language during our time there. Of course, I could not tell what he was saying literally, though I felt it spiritually. He did seem to use one word repeatedly, a word that sounded like “berakah.” I asked him later what it meant, because it sounded much like the Hebrew word, “berakah.” He said it meant thanksgiving, just as I suspected, and just as the Hebrew means. Blessing and thanksgiving.

Yes. The people of Ghana have blessed me. The experience of Ghana has blessed me. They have blessed me with thanksgiving and with joy. I hope, now, to bless them. I hope to turn their blessing of me into a blessing to others. Berakah. Thank you. May God bless Ghana, and may God bless us.

27 July 2013


On Thursday, we were up early again, in order to gather, load, and arrange boarding passes for nineteen pilgrims to fly from Tamale to Accra. Our departure time from the lovely Hotel Maryam was set for 6:45 am sharp; once again, all pilgrims made the bell.

At the airport, we waited – surely one of the features common to all travel. It is a feature common to all pilgrimages, too. When I set out on this journey, I knew I would learn more about patience, for patience is part of every pilgrimage. The destination is not the goal; the pilgrimage itself, the journey itself, is the goal. One does not get there without patience. Last Saturday, both my flights – from Atlanta and from New York—were delayed substantially. At JFK, my flight waited on the tarmac for almost two hours and almost turned around to cancel the entire flight. But I made it. Patience. My pilgrimage had begun.

So, on Thursday, we got our boarding passes in due time and proceeded through the security screening process. We knew from our earlier flight that the Ghanaian security process involves not only the typical x-ray machines for luggage and person, but also a brief but thorough hands-on frisking.

However, in spite of the awkward frisking, even the security agents in Ghana display an amazing politeness. I must say that I have never encountered a more courteous security staff than the one at Tamale airport. “Good morning,” smiled the man who would search me. “You’re welcome,” he continued, pre-emptively, “I’m glad you were here.” The woman who had informed me that I had to take off my shoes had the same manner.

Once I got through, I glanced back and worried that my colleague Gay Jennings was being delayed somehow. When she got through, I asked her if everything was alright. “Well,” she said, “when my bag went through, a buzzer went off and they asked if I had any metal inside.” “Metal?” she wondered.

Gay Jennings is President of the Episcopal House of Deputies, and she has been the leader and special guest on our trip. Just after she was elected, she instituted a special honor for persons who have shown distinguished service to the House of Deputies and the Episcopal Church: the House of Deputies Medal. She had brought several along on the trip, to give as gifts to our host bishops and others.

She didn’t have any “metal” except the metal in her “medals.” “Could this be the metal (medal) ?” she asked, and she held up the piece. She began to explain what they were. He held the medal and was curious. “Do you want one?” Gay continued, clearly being as pre-emptively courteous to the agents as they were to her. “Yes!” replied the agent happily, and he immediately placed the medal in his pocket. Gay walked on through, glad that she had brought some extra medals.

I am glad that that Tamale security agent possesses a House of Deputies Medal. I believe he has it, by God’s grace, on behalf of all the courteous Ghanaians we met. (By the way – breaking news flash! – the security agents at JFK terminal 4, where I arrived back the United States, were just as courteous as the Ghanaian agents! Hallelujah!)

Apparently, our Thursday flight also carried one of the local chiefs. As we were waiting in the boarding area, one of his attendants approached several of us and asked that we either sit down or move a bit away from the door, for no one was supposed to enter the door, that is to say, exit the door, on to the tarmac, before the chief. We obliged. The chief was wearing a beautiful customary smock; and draped over one shoulder, like a sort of ceremonial kente cloth, was a New England Patriots scarf.

Our intrepid organizer and protector, Vesta, might not agree that Ghanaians seemed pleasant today. She had had to take on another issue today, and they do arise. As always, Vesta succeeded, and we all got aboard the flight with seats. I would follow Vesta to Antarctica; she is the woman who gets things done.

Once back in Accra, we boarded another bus, and drove another three hours, down the coast to Cape Castle and Elmina. We had a lovely lunch at the Elmina Beach Resort Hotel; we would check into our rooms later.

Then we boarded the bus for Elmina Castle.

I hesitate to add my words to so many that have been written about Elmina Castle – and about the larger Cape Coast Castle, which we would see on Friday. This was the part of our pilgrimage about which I had done more preliminary reading. These two places were, for many Africans, the last places on their home continent they would ever see. The castles contain dungeons, cells, wretched and horrible holding caverns where slaves spent their last weeks, chained nakedly and closely together, waiting for the boats that would take them across the Atlantic Ocean – the Middle Passage, part of the atrocious Atlantic Slave Trade.

I shouldn’t use the word “waiting.” My sense of their agony is that they would not have been able to “wait” for anything. “Waiting” might imply some hope. Their plight looked as close to hopeless as any I have ever known.

It was probably appropriate that our day was hot and humid. I was uncomfortable both emotionally and physically down in the dungeons, hearing first about the female dungeon and situation. We heard how the governor of the castle would systematically abuse selected women. We walked through the male dungeons and saw the tiny, tiny outlets for any air or light, often one tiny “window” per room.

We heard of the squalor, the abuse, the sheer horror of existence there; again, I hesitate to use the word “life” for what they experienced there. It was appropriate that we were sweating ourselves: a very, very small price for us to pay for admission to this holy place.

Was it a holy place? I hesitate to use that word, too.

We walked down the tunnel that would take slaves, both male and female, to the door of no return. We gathered in that last room and looked out the iron gate to the ocean. I have often considered a view of the ocean as a sign of exhilaration and hope; this view, I realized, was one of horror and dread for outgoing slaves. They probably knew that boat conditions were more devastating than the dungeon conditions.

As our Episcopal Relief and Development group laid a wreath in that place, I was the one asked to pray. I had no idea, and I still have little idea, how to pray in such an agonizing place. We laid the wreath in honor and in memory of those who had been there before – those who had died there and those who had passed through. We gathered in the name of remembrance, for sure. But we also gathered in the name of horror and suffering and pain.

I finally used the word “witness.” Other words might work, too. But, for me, we were there to witness that place. We must give witness to it. We must see the truth and acknowledge it, certainly before any effective restoration and redemption might occur. By “witness,” however, I also mean the witness of the Africans who died and passed through there; in Greek, the word for “witness” is “martyr.” The slave castles are places of witness, places of martyrdom.

But the other word for me is “mercy.” “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy,” we prayed. Have mercy on the sweet souls who passed through this place, have mercy on us who witness, have mercy on all of us who work to overcome unjust conditions in our own time. For, surely, the effects of that slave trade, and of its associated racism, still exist in our world today. They exist in my world.

Finally, of course, God might just speak to us in the silence which we allow ourselves in these places of suffering and tragic inhumanity. Every word, at some point, fails when I try to describe, or pray about, humanity’s inhumanity to others. Every word falls short, at some point.

But, yes, I do believe the place is holy. Elmina and Cape Coast Castles are both holy, sacred places of pilgrimage for those who must give witness. Indeed, holiness must exist in places where human beings have suffered. It is a tragic part of our human history; and, if God is not present in suffering, then God is not present anywhere. Again, if God is not present in human suffering, then God is not present anywhere.

Sweet and healthy human beings suffered agonizingly at Elmina and at Cape Coast; they must be holy places. When words fail, all I have left is God. Even if it is the silence of God.

Later on Thursday, I had good conversations with several of my colleagues about Elmina Castle, about the systems of racism and of privilege that still exist in the United States, too. Other colleagues had similar conversations. Thursday, visiting Elmina Castle, was a holy day.

26 July 2013


I woke up quickly at 4:00 am on Wednesday, having sensed a flash of light outside. Surely that’s not lightning, I thought. When I opened the window, however, and peered out across the trees, I did indeed see lightning; and I felt the wind picking up dramatically. Within a few minutes, the wind was quite strong. When it blew through the leaks around the seals of our windows, the wind sang like a hurricane. Rain followed. It would stay with us most of the day.

Because of that rain, we enjoyed one of our less hurried mornings. We would stay at the offices of ADDRO for an hour, until around 10:00 am, to see if the rain would stop and if the village would be able to accommodate us. Regrettably, it looked like the rain would prohibit us and the bus from visiting some places.

Fortunately, however, the rain was also a blessing to the farmers and villages. That land needs the rain to come. The crops need the rain. The lives of these Ghanaians need the rain. The Ghana pilgrims sat around the place, and talked or checked messages or wrote or read. And, of course, some played Bananagrams. The rain continued, often in heavier downpours; where I sat protected under the porch roof, the rain was actually quite pleasant.

Then, despite the rain, we made our departure, raincoats and parkas donned. On the bus again, we made our way up the road northward. The potholes were now full of water, and the road was a muddy and broken up mess. Our intrepid bus driver forayed on.

We were on our way to Yelwoko, another village in that area; but we were headed especially to the Yelwoko Anglican Women’s Development Centre. Rob Radtke told us later that there is a new service or project there every time he visits. Our first stop was inside a low-roofed, small house, with a new mill in it. Having walked a few minutes in the rain to get there, we huddled inside and the rain sounded stronger on that metal roof.

We were shown one of the newer modern mill devices, which the women can use to mill both millet and rice. But its use with rice is especially helpful, said the main woman, because it can remove the husks of the rice, too. It is a sought after mill.

From there, we walked to a large set of buildings, where the women of the area had set up displays for us. We saw various textiles and crafts (some of which we would purchase later), and we saw the sewing patterns which the teacher used with her students. Then, one of the village women gave us quite a detailed explanation of how shea butter is made. We saw a bowl of shea nuts, then a bowl of crushed shea nuts, then a bowl of roasted shea nuts, then some sort of shea mixture, and finally the finished product of rich, creamy shea butter. Some of our number seemed to be salivating over it! 

Across the way, several seamstress students, all dressed in pink, were sitting at their beautiful sewing machines. Those girls, too, were pleased to have their photographs taken.

The Durbar, celebrating our arrival, had had to be modified to accommodate the rain. We would not be able to see some projects; and some performances and guests could not be there. But every teacher and guide and host was also thankful for the rain. The main project manager thanked us, actually, for having brought the rain!

It turned out that there was one performance group who were not deterred by the rain. The Boya dancers did arrive. With steady rhythm they thrilled both us and their friends with dramatic feet and muscle and jumping movement. Many of us were eager to reward their performance with currency, which they appreciated. Then, Bishop Jacob was persuaded to join them. In fact, I believe Bishop Jacob was quite eager to join them. He performed the same dance they had started with, and he was magnificent.

As we left that afternoon, I felt sad that we were leaving such happy and familiar territory. I know I have not experienced some of the pain and suffering of this place, but I do know some of its character. I have enjoyed these dances, these patterns, these paths, these trees, these crops and vendors and schools, these dirt roads, these beautiful people. They have shown me something of holiness, full of rhythm and tradition, full of love and respect. I am honored to have been here.

Back on the bus, again we drove back to Bolgatanga for a quick lunch and then the much longer drive back to Tamale. This last time, the pot-holed road was even more full of mud and water, and the teakwood areas were wet. We waved at the checkpoints again. We crossed the Black Volta River again. I was not only accustomed to this place; I was going to miss it.

One more thing: the good people on the staff of ADDRO were magnificent. I feel like Theo, and Hillary, and Emmanuel, have become friends. Bishop Jacob delivered some kind closing remarks, and we enjoyed his blessing. Then, we said our good-byes at the ADDRO offices, we took photographs, and we climbed aboard the bus which had been our steady transport for the past two days. It was time to drive two and a half hours back to Tamale, where we would spend a quick night and rise early in order to fly back to Accra.

25 July 2013


On Tuesday, the first stop for the 2013 Ghana Pilgrims is at the offices of ADDRO (“Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization”); and our new friends greet us warmly. Our growing impression is of the overall peacefulness, even happiness, of the Ghanaians we meet.

I ask Bishop Jacob if he knows the name of the gorgeous shade tree we are standing under. It is a Nim tree (or Neem tree), and Jacob shows me how he used to brushed his teeth with a small sprig of it, “before the days of Pepsodent,” he said. During the day, he has an answer for every tree I ask him about: the Bobba, the Kapok, an Accacia-type tree, the Mango tree, the Shea tree.

As we drive out to Binaba, I see more road-side shops, and then more of these beautiful trees. Again the road becomes quite chopped up, and, again, we drive through a lowland Teakwood grove. These trees really are marvelous.

We are on our way to Binaba, but first we will visit the area of Asapaligu and see some examples of the use of mosquito nets. This project, “NetsforLife,” is one of the more well-known ministries of Episcopal Relief and Development. The bus stops under one of the largest bobba trees I have yet seen. In fact, its middle is decayed out, but its leaves and outer bark are perfectly handsome. The bark seems to fold over on itself like the skin of a middle-aged man, all piling up and spilling over at the ground – or maybe at the waist.

We divide into two groups, which is a sensitive idea, since we will be inviting ourselves into homes and sometimes asking to see the mosquito nets being used there. These nets, distributed by Episcopal Relief and Development, through ADDRO, are highly effective. The statistic I hear is that some 22 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 5 die of malaria in this region. If they survive childhood, adults may still develop malaria; but it is not so deadly then.

At that point, I am glad for the generosity of my seat-mate, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. Along the drive, I had remembered that I had forgotten to take my daily anti-malaria pill, and I had asked her if she might loan me one of hers, and that I would give her back one tomorrow. She gladly obliged. It felt like I was bumming a cigarette that I would repay later.

So, with the assistance of our various volunteers and project managers, we make our way inside these small structures of walls and thatched roofs, the very structures that Jennifer and I were wondering about as we drove through the morning. We were curious as to what was inside.

Well, what was inside was a series of walls, without roofs, forming a living quarters. The animals were in the front areas, and a large common space was in the middle. Thatched, small, bedroom structures dotted the outer walls. Piles of millet cobs were in one corner, and a stack of ground nuts seemed to be in another corner. They were being mashed, probably for soup.

A lovely woman allows us inside her room to see the net. Rob acts as a sort of inquisitor, asking about how often she cleans it, and whether conditions are better now, and how many people sleep under that particular one (three: herself and two children). Another beautiful bobba tree stands outside their compound. Stacks of new straw are drying outside, too.

We visit a couple of other compounds, among the millions in this country and on this continent. Here, the roofs are usually thatched, except that the roofs seem to become tin as one gets closer to urban areas. In and around the compound are chickens, guinea hens, pigs, goats, even a cow maybe, all participating in family life.

Next is certainly one of the highlights of the trip; we drive into Binaba to meet the chief. I cannot say exactly how kingdoms and chiefs and government officials and bishops all designate their various authorities at Binaba, but I do sense they respect each other. And all the people seem to respect all of them. But the people especially respect the chiefs.

We are gathered in pre-arranged plastic chairs and benches under some sort of aluminum awning structure. A beautiful shea tree stands right outside that. We sit politely as three of our group – Gay Jennings (President of the Episcopal House of Deputies), Bishop Jacob, and Rob Radtke, enter the small hut for a quick private audience. A few minutes later, they emerge; and we wait a few more quick minutes.

Then the chief is escorted in by a serious and formal cohort. They place his plastic chair at the top of the gathering and bow before it, with their hands securing it to the ground as he sits. To his right, we learned later, are the princes of the kingdom – those he cannot fire, he said—and to his left sit members of his business- those he could fire, he told us later.

His entry reminds me of many a small Episcopal church processional I have witnessed in rural Georgia. The chairs and furniture and walls and roofs and design and decoration may not look opulent and exquisite; but the intention and ceremony are just as intentional and honorable as anywhere. It is simple, earnest, and lovely.

With the help of translators, we present ourselves; and then he welcomes us with a translator. Again, Bishop Jacob is gracious. When an opportunity for questions is opened, it is mostly Rob who asks questions for us.

Then, as the questions become slightly more substantial, the chief does a curious thing. He asks his circle of elders for their permission to speak in English, outside the local language. Of course, many of us are suspecting he was understanding our English perfectly well, especially because English is spoken almost everywhere as the official language of Ghana. He smiles as he tells us he must ask permission of the elders to speak in a non-native language in such formal gatherings as these. We all understand. It is like being permitted to say something outside of the usual formal liturgical formula.

At any rate, he is clear and thoughtful in his remarks. He tells us how he has appreciates the work of the Anglicans, and the Americans, especially in the construction of an irrigation dam, in fortifying food security, in developing good drinking water, and in combatting malaria. He thanks us, too, for helping them support women and children, especially by supplying micro-credit loans. When one of us asks about problems, he replies for Ghana that, “we like peace more than violence or war.” That seems to say it all.

When I get back on the bus, I ask Bishop Jacob about the state of Christian-Muslim relations; for I have seen a few small mosques, local ones, during our drive up to this area from Bolgatanga. There is no problem, he says; we get along. It sure looks that way. (Later, I asked other local people, just to confirm that answer, and they too replied that Christians and Muslims get along fine in Tamale.) Bishop Jacob says that Christian-Muslim relations are more troublesome in urban areas. “What causes the problems that do occur there?” I ask. He replies, “The problem of who will be chief.” Political power and authority, I think to myself.  (By the way, the Binaba chief we met, to whom Bishop Jacob showed such sincere and honorable respect, is an Anglican Christian; apparently, at one time, he served as the equivalent of one of the church wardens.)

We drive over to one of the many family farms being supported by ADDRO and ERD. We see small fields, maybe an acre or two each, of millet, maize, okra, and ground nuts. Ground nuts, we are told, are like our peanuts. This time of year, the fields and crops are lush green and beautiful. I am told later that, come December, the landscape is brown and dry and very much a fire hazard. In fact, during the dry season, the people use sterno for fuel, instead of all this wood, in order to decrease the chances of a wildfire. Even in Accra, I smelled smoke in the air. I smelled smoke drifting through the breeze in Tamale and Bolgatanga, too. Only on the rural farms, outside, in the fresh atmosphere of this beautiful and simply country, did I not smell smoke.

One of my many happy memories of that day is having walked along the winding paths on the farms through the rather tall millet. We walked where the bare feet of Ghanaians walk every day. It was hard for me to determine any order to the paths, just as I remember walking meandering paths in the pastures where I grew up on a farm in Georgia. But, like my childhood, there is always some destination for these paths; I just don’t see it yet. A group of four girls crosses in front of us, travels with us a while, and then splits off in an entirely different direction; they know exactly where to go.

We see the colorful figures of people hoeing the millet long before we get to them. One of that number is the actual farmer of that land, and the others are his neighbors helping him that day. When labor is needed, neighbors assist neighbors; the next day, they help someone else. This farmer, too, has benefitted from the micro-credit programs of ADDRO.

From the farms, we travel into one of the small villages to visit some of the other beneficiaries of the ADDRO micro-finance ministries. They are delightful. At one shop, a woman is able to pay school fees with the money from her arrangement; her shop sells soybeans, salt, spices, and various other beans. Another woman has a very full shop of groceries and supplies. Meanwhile, school children flock to us. They love having their photographs made with us, especially if they get to see the photograph a few seconds later.

Our day is late, and we will not get to lunch until around 2:45 pm. Thus, it looks like we will be prohibited from visiting one of the last farms. I hear our volunteers discussing the need to go apologize to the farmer who was expecting us. Once again, I am struck by the solid and simple courtesy of the people of Ghana. They are civil people. The people we experienced are gentle and courteous.

However, I can’t tell whether we are actually skipping the last farm or not. For, a few minutes later, we are out of the bus, walking down more paths, and looking for two goats. They have wandered away, says our farm family, but we can go down that way and find them. We walk a slight bit, and then one of the keepers comes back not only with two goats but two sheep, too. School children find us there, too, and we have more photographs made.

From there, we pay our formal visit to the retired Bishop of Tamale, Bishop Emmanuel Arongo, at his nearby home. What a wise and peaceful presence he is, the first Northern Ghanaian to ever be made a priest in the Anglican Church. His seasoned face bears the marks of local custom. He retired from being bishop only recently, and he happily supports his successor, the ever jolly Bishop Jacob. In fact, he takes the time to make an appeal which he knew Bishop Jacob could not. “Bishop Jacob needs your financial support to help finish the new cathedral!” he says with a delightful smile. “He will not ask you through ERD, which does not build churches; but, individually, you can help.” Those aren’t his exact words, but the gist is similar. Several of us want to build the new cathedral that afternoon.

In fact, we sit in the shell of the new cathedral for lunch. It consists only of concrete and cinder block walls, two-stories high, and a roof, at this point, on a concrete slab. There are no windows, no doors, no ceilings, no interior walls, no wood of any sort – just a shell.

After lunch, we still have two places to go. Our bus lumbers on, and we grow even more appreciative of our deliberate driver, Emmanuel. At first, his incessant horn honking seemed intrusive, but his care of the bus has become downright tender. When we come to strange ditches, or tight turns, he knows exactly what his bus can do and what it can not do.

We finally arrive at our last village of the day, and the home of the Anglican Wood Works Training Centre. This is a training school in carpentry for the deaf. Their head master, a deaf man who started the school, comes bounding out of the gate, hugging us, and pouring affection all over us. Like many a deaf person I have known, he communicates quite physically and emotionally. When we sit down, we hear him tell his story, which is powerful. (He can speak fairly intelligibly to us, because he has not been deaf all his life.)  Again, he thanks ADDRO and its director (the bishop), and he profusely thanks the Americans. The Americans have helped him add these additions to the school. It is hard to leave such profuse appreciation.

But the day is long, and we must leave. Our last stop, for a few minutes, is at Tilli Mango plantation. The trees are small, but they are beginning to bear fruit. ADDRO is trying to participate in the development of organic mangos, which have a much higher export value. One volunteer said that the local ones are quite small.

Back on the bus, we head back for our second night in Bolgatanga. We ride back, tired, on that pot-holed road and its teakwood lowlands area. We go back through the checkpoints again. We cross the Black Volta River again. It feels like we are getting accustomed to this place.