A tale is told of a great civilization that existed two centuries ago. On the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, a very rich kingdom was formed. The Kingdom of Ashanti. It was established by the Asantehene Osei Tutu I. Ruler after ruler in order of succession, they formed bigger kingdoms and expanded their borders for about 200 years, until the British took over. What makes Ghana so special is that today, it is one of the leading countries of Africa, partly because of its considerable natural wealth and partly because it was the first black African country south of the Sahara to achieve independence from colonial rule. The availability of gold in the area got Ghana the name ‘The Gold Coast’.
It is true that Ghana is known for its lush forests, diverse animal life, and miles of sandy beaches along a picturesque coast, but it is also celebrated for its rich history—its habitation possibly dating from 10,000 BCE—and as a fascinating repository of cultural heritage. Once a great medieval trading empire in measure, and also masters in the arts created from nature and her readily available resources. Ghana's arts include dance and music, plastic art (especially pottery and wood carving), gold- and silverwork, and textiles, most notably the richly coloured, handwoven kente cloth of the Akan and Ewe and Bolga crafts. Our exploration of Africa and her rich culture is a lot like a matryosha doll. One main focus uncovers so many different important chunks within it, each with its own unique composition. As is Ghana. Ghana is a multilingual country in which about eighty languages are spoken, in different regions.
1. What is a Bolga fan?
A Bolga fan is a type of hand-held fan found mostly in the West African country of Ghana. It consists of a circular or semi-circular frame, traditionally made from wood and covered with animal skin, with a cloth or plastic blade (or sometimes two) attached to it.
Today, these traditional African fans are woven using straws and reeds, while the handle is normally covered with leather. The unique designs and patterns can be created using dyed grass of different colors to increase aesthetic value as well.
2. Where did the Bolga Fan originate from?
Bolgatanga. The name Bolgatanga was derived from the Frafra words bolga "rock” and tẽŋa "city." Frafra is the language spoken in Northern Ghana. Right adjacent to the border with Burkina Faso, at the capital of the Bolgatanga Municipal District and Upper East Region of Ghana, is a town called Bolgatanga… casually known as Bolga. It is 161 km (about 100 miles) to the north of Tamale.
Bolgatanga lies in the Red Volta River Valley (which serves as a major migration route of elephants), with the White Volta River and the cliffs of the Gambaga Escarpment to the south of the town forming the southern boundary of the Upper East Region. The rich undulating landscape provided raw materials for the Bolga crafts. Did you know that Mole National Park has the most viable unique breed of elephant population in Ghana, which are not hostile, and aggressive, compared to other elephant populations in the rest of Africa? Not all elephants are the same my friends.
3. What is the Bolga fan made from?
A bolga fan is made from Elephant grass. In the savannah region in the north of Ghana, weaving using grass is very popular. The climate of this savannah region is not suitable for stable farming due to the harsh dry season. However, the southern region of Ghana has a tropical rainforest climate, and palm plants are produced in abundant quantities, such as rattan, raffia, and oil palm.
This is different from the northern region that has a severe dry season, and so opt to use the grass stems of gramineae to promote the safe utilization of natural fibers, for the sustenance of the climate and natural environment of the savannah they live in. Organized living and highly inventive. African art involved using what is available in your environment to sustain it as it sustains you. There was never waste, as only handicrafts that were functional were created for use.
4. What was the Bolga fan used for?
Ghana is a country in Africa that’s rich in culture and traditions. The crafts of Ghana are a testament to how the people of this country enjoy expressing themselves through their creativity. They are created by many old and young artists who see it as a way to express themselves as well as pass on their traditions and heritage to others. They offered jobs for many who would otherwise be unemployed while giving them an opportunity to live a dignified life. Bolga fans however had unique uses then, steeped in tradition.
Intricately woven with organic and natural hues, these fans are practical but are also perfect for celebrating African culture, as they were used traditionally in ritual and burial rites within the Gurunsi community. They were also used to fan off the excess heat from this savannah region. Today, the bolga fan is used in various settings and for various uses. As the ones that lived before us were creative, we create new ways to make it creative for you in this era. In the contemporary world.
History allows us to study events from a chronological point of view. How they came to be. It is an important aspect of sociology, economics, and political science. It helps us understand the past in order to see how it was, and what we can do better and learn in the future. Taking care of our environment is the key, as we know history repeats itself, and it takes many forms. One form includes oral tradition and another form includes written records such as the information, tips and images we share with you, to learn about the past and incorporate it in our lives today. Choosing natural living, just as we used to be.
Phew! That was a hot trip right? Need a fan?