Campbell Law in Ghana: Inaugural study abroad program wraps up with trips to national park, cultural sites

Photo of the famous canopy walk, the longest and tallest in Africa at over a quarter mile long and about 160 feet high

ACCRA, GHANA — After three weeks, thousands of miles, and dozens of hours in the air, our group returned from Ghana on June 11. However, the last few days of our program were packed with events, places and experiences.

On Wednesday, June 5, the group decided to flip the schedule — academics coming later in the afternoon and leisure in the morning. The purpose of this flip was allow for the group to go Kakum National Park. A little more than an hour away by bus, Kakum National Park is a 375 square kilometer expanse of pristine, semi-deciduous rainforest. Subjectively, this writer has never seen a landscape so densely packed with vegetation, so intensely green and extending to the horizon.

It should be mentioned that we only got to see the horizon because the group went on the famous canopy walk, the longest and tallest in Africa at more than a quarter mile long and about 160 feet high — fun, but definitely a test of the nerves. Our guide taught us about the trees and plants growing in the park, speaking also about their traditional uses and highlighting medicinally valuable species.

Photo of suspended footbridge over rainforest in Ghana.

While the days are beautiful and for the most part dry, the nights in Ghana can be decidedly more wet — especially as we had just entered the rainy season. And while the power may have gone out briefly due to the seasonal transition, Professor Shawn Fields managed to improvise — conducting his Thursday lecture on refugee law and refugee rights outside in an open air lecture hall.

The program’s final day of study wrapped up Friday morning, June 7, with lectures from Professors Kevin Lee and Fields. With the formal academic portion of the program done, the group headed off on its final weekend excursion — Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city and the capital of the Ashanti region.

And while Friday was primarily filled with class and bus rides, Saturday was most certainly a change of pace. The group went throughout the Ashanti region — visiting the region’s significant cultural sites. The group saw the Manhiya Palace — the seat of the Asantehene of Asanteman, the king of the Ashanti — which is now a museum. Students learned that the Ashanti refer to themselves as porcupines because they are always ready to defend themselves.

Saturday was busy as the group then made its way to the site of Okomfo Anokye’s immovable sword — a weapon said to have been placed in the ground centuries ago by a traditional Ashanti priest. Removal of the sword from the ground is said to signify the end of the Ashanti kingdom.

From there, the group got to experience the weaving of kente cloth first hand — journeying to a village almost entirely devoted to the craft. Ntonso village came next, where students were able to participate in the making of adinkra — strips of cloth traditionally only worn to Ghanaian funerals, stamped with local and traditional symbols, now used for symbolic communication as well. The students participated in the stamping process, to be specific, using crushed tree bark and an open fire to imprint the traditional symbols on the cloth.

Photo of a hand performing traditional stamping on local fabric made in Ghana.

By Sunday afternoon, June 9, we all made our way back to the Ridge neighborhood of Accra. We spent our last full day in Ghana looking at art, relaxing by the pool and sleeping. On Monday, June 10, the group made its way to the airport. Some of us went directly home, the rest to other places for even more travel.

This program has been immensely meaningful for the entire group — academically and culturally. Many thanks to all of those who have read this blog — even more thanks to the friends, family and members of the Campbell Law community who have supported our program. Nante yiye, Ghana!

For more photos of the law school’s inaugural study abroad experience in Ghana, visit  Campbell Law’s Facebook page.


Brennan Cumalander '18

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