Weaving palm leaves into baskets, rope or mats for sleeping is a widespread local activity where tourists can watch and also try it out themselves.
Palm leaves are collected, cut and woven into ropes. Those ropes are used for typing straw mats or any other thing and are very durable. The woven sleeping mats are used by many people throughout Ghana and are often preferred over modern mattresses. On some of the islands, the materials for weaving are produced and the finished products are sold at the markets on Wednesdays.
On many islands in the river (especially Aflive and Alorkpem) you can watch the women weaving and also try it out for yourself and prepare your own basket to take home. Get more information and book a tour at the Tourist Information Center.
At the local potteries in Vume vases and pots are offered that are produced with the potter’s wheel and by hand.
The Vume Pottery Cooperation, located in the Volta Region close to the border to Dangme East, does not bring the produced pottery to the markets and bigger cities but draws clients from faraway places to buy it there. The basis for pottery, clay, is taken from a field right next to the town and processed at the different pottery organizations. Visitors can buy the locally produced vases and pots, watch the men and women work on the potter’s wheel and with their hands and try it out themselves.
Contact the Tourist Information Center for more information or just ask anyone in the pottery shops for a small tour. A tip is appreciated for this service.
How to get there: take a Tro-Tro from Kasseh in the direction to Aflao (takes about 20 to 30 minutes). You will know that you are in Vume when you see the colourful pots standing along the street.
Ever thought about being buried in a tomato? Or maybe a truck? Although the majority of the Ghanaians are buried in normal ones, there are some carpenters that have specialized in building eccentric coffins.
All are made for order and can be any shape you can imagine, from fish, canoes and Tro-Tros to sewing machines, pepperoni, tomatoes and books. The shape of the coffin is always connected to the life or profession of the deceased, so a fisherman would be buried in a fish or canoe, a teacher in a book and a farmer in a tomato. These coffins are more artwork than handicraft; some are even exported to North America and Europe or put in museums.
In Sege and Koluedor you can stop at one of the workshops, have a look at the currently built coffins and admire pictures of the already finished ones (in Sege). A tip is appreciated for visiting the places. See the map for the exact location.
Completely local and handmade sugar cane rum can be tasted and aquired at the island of Aflive.
Ebenezer from Aflive calls his island the “rum island”. His sugar cane distillery and the produced “Igo-gro” (from “I go – I grow”) has gained quite some fame and people come from faraway places to stock up on his homemade rum. The completely locally produced rum is processed with an old machine that can be seen on his short “factory tour”. Some time ago, the Ghanaian Food and Drugs Commission made him reduce the amount of alcohol in the rum to around 45 % after a check-up of his business. So now, the finished product of white and dark rum with the reduced alcohol can be bought in plastic bottles of 1/2 or 1 1/2 liters.
To get there join one of the boat tours who all frequent the place. Just go to the river and ask anyone for a boat tour or check at the Tourist Information Center.
Visit one of the fishing villages or take part in a fishing tour to experience one of the main activities and livelihoods in the District.
Building traditional fishing boats requires much work and is very expensive. They can be as big as to fit 25 fishermen in it. The lower part of the boat is made of one big piece of wood, the upper part of planks. As a recent development, the living time of boats is increased by applying bitumen to the planks and reinforcing the whole boat with fiberglass on the edges. At the end, the boats are painted in many colors with religious sayings written on it.
There are many fishing villages around, the bigger ones being Akplabana and Pute. One nice small village is Anakpo. What’s special about this village is that the community has taken measures to improve sanitation and the garbage problem. A group of women has been encouraged to sanction community members who act against this understanding. For visiting a fishing village just take your own car or a Tro-Tro to one of the before-mentioned places and have a look at the fishing boats, talk to the people and taste some of the smoked fish. Remember that the people will appreciate it if you ask them before taking random photos. If you prefer, you can also arrange for a tour at the Tourist Information Center.
At several places in Big Ada local craftsmen sell their jewellery, art and related produce in shops and on the street. So if you want some typical souvenirs just watch out for the beads, necklaces and clothes that are sold around town.
The rattling of sewing machines can be heard everywhere around the towns and most people have their clothes sewn there instead of buying manufactured clothes. There are sewers for women’s, men’s and children’s clothes and special sewers for school uniforms. So just get yourself some colorful fabric at the market, choose a design from the pictures and order for a custom-made dress or shirt.