”Beach by day, jungle by night” - Are you ready for Asa Baako, Ghana’s most unique festival?
I’m sitting in a car, writing down questions for my next interview. I’m excited; today I’ll be working on one of the loveliest beaches in Ghana, Busua beach, a nice little town with a 15 minutes drive from Agona.
I get down and pass through a wooden path surrounded by colorful houses with wooden window shutters shaded by purple and pink flowers. In the end of the path I can see the turquoise sea view calling me. How I love the serenity of this place. I get to the beach. The sun is super hot today and I can feel the fine, white sand burning my feet gently. I walk to Coconut Dream, a breezy beach bar right in front of the sea.
Ebenezer has set three chairs in line to face the sea. He is sitting on one of them, deeply in his thoughts, wearing sunglasses, listening to music through his headset. He has a lot to do and think about these days. Why? Well, Ebenezer is one of the core organizers of Ghana’s biggest and most awesome beach festival, Asa Baako (aka One Dance) that will be held here in Busua beach from 2nd March up to Ghana’s Independence Day on 6th March.
He greets me warmly and we order a few fruity malt drinks, Alvaro’s, to sip while chatting. We remind ourselves of my son who was so excited to paste the festival posters around Busua a couple of weeks ago.
So let me tell you a bit about Ebenezer. He is a friendly and very active Busuan guy running a charity called Black Star Development Project and a volunteering program as well. He has started a lot of developmental initiatives in the community e.g. Plastic Recycling Center, vacation classes for school children and Women’s Group empowering local women with skills and literacy. And as if this wasn’t quite enough of efforts for community development and good deeds, Ebenezer has been the event organizer for the most unique festival in the country in this tiny fishermen’s village in the middle of nowhere! Why?
”Asa Baako was created to boost tourism in Busua;
to revive the economy of the community,
and of course to offer people unforgettable experiences
on this beautiful beach.”
Originally launched in 2011, Asa Baako has grown from a nice little beach party with few hundreds of visitors into a legendary festival of the year with thousands of social butterflies rushing in to have a blast on the beach. In fact, Ebenezer and his team consisting of a few other Ghanaians and Brits, and the whole festival community got rewarded for their efforts just this month as Asa Baako was rewarded as the Best Tourism Program of 2017 by Ghana’s Western Region’s Tourism Authority.
So what actually happens in this well loved and anticipated beach party? From my own experience, after joining Asa Baako for a couple of times before, I can say it’s a festival for everyone! It has a lot to offer for visitors and locals, adults, youth and children, party animals and beach lovers.
In the day time there’s a lot of beach activities, games and sports incl. volley ball, colour run, snooker, flick and sticks etc. One can also surf and swim in the warm, clear sea, eat amazing local dishes, BBQ goodies, spicy snacks and fresh seafood, enjoy chilled drinks like sobolo, coconut water, Ghanaian beer and cocktails while watching all the fun going on around. All this is magnified by awesome local and foreign DJ’s and artists performing hiphop, dancehall and reggae beats on a stage built right on the beach. You wouldn’t want to miss the local brass band parade either. During the past seven festivals held so far, Busua has witnessed big local names like VVIP, Manifest, E.L., Efia, Yaa Pono, Reggie Rockstone and many others performing on the stage. No dey be joke oo!
”Asa Baako has always been unique
because we blend successfully both local
and western cultures. Everything is well organized.”
On Saturday night, 3rd of March the festival is highlighted by the spectacular Jungle Party! This is actually The Thing that people are really waiting for. You can buy tickets in advance online at the cost of 25Ghs here and from door (well, from somehwere in between the bamboos and mahogany trees) with 35Ghs. This year the location of the night party will be a bit closer to Busua beach for ease of access.
While the business is booming for Busuans and the participants are having fun, is there any negative sides affecting the village? Ebenezer says, that as in any big event anywhere in the world, there will be challenges of course. Outsiders have different habits and cultures, things the locals have never seen. There will be more littering, demand for improved security, sanitation and so on. Again, the community is dedicated to take care of this aspect too; the youth will clean the beach after the festival, there will be security men on the beach, local surfers will keep their eyes closely in the swimmers and there will be an information stand on the beach in case of any problems. The Asa Baako crew also involves a lot of volunteers to give a helping hand with the 8 months of preparations and especially during the program.
As last, I ask Ebenezer about his best festival memory so far:
”Well we were all clubbing in the bush,
it was something like 2am.
Everybody was dancing and all of a sudden
the fuel from the generator got finished!
It went all black and quiet.
Then, all the people started signing and drumming
in the darkness; the party went on!
After a while, we got the generator working again
and all the people rejoiced with one voice: Yeeeeaaaaaah!!!”
So, are you ready for Busua? I am, and before I take the lead to enjoy the beach yet so peaceful with my novel and plantain chips, let me share a few useful tips with you for Asa Baako 2018!
8 useful tips for Asa Baako 2018:
1. Take cash with you! The closest ATM is in Agona and most of the time it doesn’t work. Instead, you can find ATMs everywhere around Takoradi market circle. The beach programs at the festival are mainly free of charge, but activities like boat trips, surfing and ski jet rides will cost you from some tens to a few hundred cedis. Food is affordable, varying from a couple of cedis up to 60Ghs depending on the street food joint / restaurant (in Busua, you can find both continental and local foods). You’ll need money for transportation too. And remember to get your tickets for the jungle party at your arrival to the village.
2. Lodging will be a challenge if you don’t book your room well in advance! If you haven’t got a room to stay yet, please do it today - I wish you good luck! Try also other close villages like Butre, Dixcove and the small towns between Busua and Agona. Takoradi is not a bad idea either as it takes just for about 30 minutes from there to Busua by taxi (if there’s no traffic!). Alternatively, you can take a trotro from Takoradi to Agona and then a private or shared taxi from there to Busua; this option is great for low-budget travelers but get prepared to spend for about an hour for the whole journey.
3. Be careful with your belongings! There’s always some thieves among huge crowds waiting for opportunities. Carry only what you need, don’t leave anything idle. And avoid the left end (on Butre side) at night, as there’s no much people or lights it’s a perfect spot for robberies.
4. Beware of mosquitoes! These nasty devils will show up around five and they will enjoy sucking your blood all night long if you don’t protect yourself with repellents and / or long sleeves. Apply another round of repellent at 9 pm to avoid the super itchy bites by sand fleas.
5. Careful with the sea. It’s lovely, clean and blue, and yes, you should definitely enjoy it to the fullest! Just be careful with the tides and the currents (the swirly, brown areas) I’ve witnessed some cases before that didn’t end up well. Take it seriously when locals tell you to move to a different spot or get out of the water.
6. Protect yourself from the sun and remember to drink enough water. Water games and the sea breeze will take your attention from sun burns and heat strokes.
7. Busua is a great target for any kind of charity initiatives or donations! Support the local clinic or school - donate books, clothes, medical equipment, soap, anything useful! Through Ebenizer’s Black Star Development Project you can be sure that things end up to real, right causes. You can also visit the targets in person together with Ebenizer or his team members to deliver your support. Remember, there’s nothing too small. Your contribution will be highly appreciated!
8. Respect the locals. They are doing their best to offer memorable experiences for you. Don’t misbehave, offend anyone, or litter the environment. And remember that Busua is a small town with limited facilities. The light might go off sometimes, things may take a bit time, but it’s just normal here!
See you guys next weekend!
With cheerful regards,