Chiana: Mangoes, Educating the Next Generation, and Cockerels

Today we traveled to Chiana which is about 20 kilometers from Navrongo. The purpose of today’s efforts were to meet with chieftains and local assemblymen to announce our Save The Frogs’ Day event in the town of Chiana. We also would speak to a school about the over-harvesting of frogs for food and put the finishing touches on tomorrow’s Save The Frog’s Day evens in the market place.

But first we had to get some mangos!

Mangos, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo,

In northern Ghana the food is considerably heavy. Meals usually consist of meat from some animal, yams (or cassava), spices, and lots of bread. As the meals are generally mixed together and considering the fact that I am vegan means I have been eating nuts, bread, and peanut butter (or groundnut paste if you’re Ghanaian) for the duration of my stay up north. So when we saw these wonderful women selling mangos, I seriously lost myself and demanded we pull over! While purchasing mangoes I started to get really excited and photos started being taken. The wonderful mango lady wanted to have her photo taken and I was happy to oblige! I am still so excited about this discovery. How do they taste? They are sweeter than any candy and the texture is better than any cake, pie, or custard combined. I freaking love mangos.

Shortly after the mango madness, we got back into the car and then we see these beautifully dressed men on camels!

Camel, Mali, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo,

These men originate from Mali and travel to neighboring countries with their camels. Why? Apparently so people can stop them and take their photo. Which we obviously did and one of us was actually was able to ride the camel. An interesting experience meeting these men. The day was going great and I sensed that the rest of the day would go swimmingly!

And then we ran over a goat.

It didn’t take long for you to read the sentence above, yes? That’s about how long the driver felt remorse for running over the goat. The worst part? It was a kid! Goats, cattle, dogs, pigs, guinea fowl, and chickens are allowed to roam freely. I still cannot figure out the people of Chiana’s system of keeping track of their animals, but apparently someone lost a goat today. So it goes. *bows in respect*

After our interesting morning we arrive in Chiana. The first thing we see is this sign announcing our events the following day. Say No To Frog Meat!

frog conservation, ghana, africa

We went to a local school and we educated the children about the problem of overharvesting amphibians for meat and for bait. We explained to the students why frogs are important in the ecosystem because they control insect populations and they are bio-indicators. Apparently if you are stung by a scorpion in Ghana, you can grab a toad and rub it on the sting and be completely healed the next day. I had my doubts that this actually works, but every villager swears by this action. Scorpions in the area are quite dangerous and if you do not receive medical care the sting can be life-threatening. Amphibian skin is pretty incredible so this local remedy may actually be a reality.

Chiana School 1 550

environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo,

In total we spoke to 180 school children today. It was great to hear them all make frog calls together. At the end of the presentation, we all shouted, “SAVE THE FROGS FROGS! SAVE THE WORLD!”

environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo,

After the school then we visited some friends and family of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana. People in northern Ghana, and especially in the Navrongo/Chiana region, still make traditional mud huts and these homes are used for multiple generations. First thing we did is give mangoes to the kids.

mango,environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo,

Then we were able to see their house. It is very simple and there are no material possessions, but this family has everything they need: Food, Shelter, and Community. A humbling experience.

Chiana house 1 550

 environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo, travel

I wanted to have a bit of fun so I started climbing a tree. I was quickly joined by an army of future frog savers!

 environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo, travel

Then we headed out to meet with two separate chieftains, their respective assemblymen, and elders from the region. In this area it is customary to meet with the chieftain of a village and seek his approval for whatever you want to do in the village. After the meeting you present him with a gift showing your respect and dedication toward the chieftain and the community.

 environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo, travel

The Chieftain above is wearing the red beret (a symbol of his power). I had no idea what it would be like to meet a chieftain and I was pleasantly surprised. So far I have met three in Ghana and they have all been well educated, compassionate about their community and interested to hear about what we had to say. This is good because if we rally support from the chieftains this means that we gain support from the community. At the local level the chieftain is revered and most people value their chieftain more than the president of Ghana. The frogs in Ghana have some new allies!

However meeting any leader is stressful so after our meeting we stopped at a friend’s house and I was introduced to Pito—a mildly alcoholic drink that is brewed from millet.

Pito,  environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo, travel

My reaction to the culture of drinking Pito is why I am being laughted at in the photo, because apparently you always “offer” (i.e. spill) your drink to the floor before you drink. Of course no one told me this custom and I was the target of many jokes. It is an interesting tradition as it is a gesture of understanding and remembering your roots to the earth. The earth gave you the millet, the water, and the yeast and therefore you should give some back when it is ready. The gestured  made me smile.

African Birds, Wildlife, nature, Ghana

So, there is this awesome looking dove that hangs around outside my room and I had nowhere else to put it within this post… so awkward dove comes out of flippin’ nowhere!

 environmental education, grassroots activism, Chiana, Ghana, Africa, Novrongo, travel

Lastly, I feel like this photo is straight out of some post-apocalyptic war movie, but this moment just reflects the end of a day in a new culture. Today one of the chieftains was so happy that I traveled all the way from the United States to save the frogs in his region that he was compelled to give me a token of his thanks—a living cockerel. I thanked him for the gift and accepted the cockerel. I definitely wasn’t going to slay and eat this bird, so when we were away from the town and out of respect for cultural norms, we gave it to our taxi driver. The billowing smoke is from a huge tire fire outside my hotel.

Just another day in Africa…

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SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana, Save The Frogs, Africa, Amphibian Conservation, Ghana
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Thank you for reading and for your support! Save Frogs, Save The World!

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3 thoughts on “Chiana: Mangoes, Educating the Next Generation, and Cockerels

  1. Mangoes…fruit of the gods! Always been my favourite too! You will never be the same when you get back to California….you will now give out cockerels as a gesture of respect, and will remember to “spill the wine…” before you drink it!!

  2. Hi, Michael, this Dad (and Beau!) love your posts! Just for me, try to get to a Catholic Church. I’d love to hear/see about it! love, Dad

    Sent from my iPad

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