Tamale in northern Ghana is the eye of the region, and is a great place to take in the best attractions and experiences the sphere has to offer. As the fastest-growing city in West Africa, it is predominantly Muslim and records warmer temperatures than cities south of Ghana. Here’s your need-to-know guide.
Kukuo is one of the developed suburbs of Tamale, though it used to be a village. It is known for its pottery industry, an occupation almost exclusively done by the local women. Kukuo is one of the densely populated communities in the Tamale Metro Area of the Northern Region.
Mba Yahaya’s grilled guinea fowl and the art and craft stall market National Culture Centre make a great food-and-culture combination in Tamale. Another magical experience would be to sip the local non-alcoholic millet or maize brew called Toose (toasted millet flour in water and fula mashed in water), or ginger lamujee drink while watching the Harmattan sunset from the rooftop of Giddipas, but there’s more. In this part of Ghana, you’ll keep coming across so many types of food and drink you never knew existed. Try out the best waakye (a dish of cooked rice and beans) in Ghana, which can be found at right opposite VRA or the one at Fatawu Bicycles. The best places for lodging, meanwhile, are Ganaa, Zosimli and African Dream hotels.
Check out the northern Ghana music scene
As writer and historian Wunpini F. Mohammed put it,“The buzzing northern Ghanaian musicians you should know include Fancy Gadam, Maccasio, Diva One, Double Tee, Dabba Lamaley, Don Sigli, Sister Zet, One 9ra, Vizion and Nandos the Dagbandoo.” Artists in Tamale are taking music as entertainment a notch higher, building on genres such as afropop and hiplife with a contemporary taste and appeal. The main venue for music performances in Tamale is Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium, though communal occasions and small bars feature live music also.
Mole National Park offers a major draw to nature lovers. Some 94 mammal species, over 300 bird species, nine amphibian species and 33 reptile species have been recorded in Mole. The 4,912 sq km (1,897 sq mile) area is the largest reserve in Ghana, with savannah and forest space, which is home to elephants, buffalo, hippos, leopards and rare birds such as the white-backed vulture.
The king of Tamale resides at the Dakpema Palace in the Northern Region. Ghanaians understand the keen cultural importance of queens, kings and their palaces. The traditional mud fortification of the palace gives it a vintage touch, where roaming goats and chickens abound in the compound. Once your shoes are removed, you can settle on one of the many mats in the warm presence of traditional rulers, their sub-chiefs and advisers, who offer kola nuts to welcome you.
Catch up with Tamale’s dynamic culture
Tamale Fashion Week seeks to bring all made-in-Ghana fashion designers, models, accessory makers, photographers, bloggers and more under one roof to showcase their unique blend of traditional and modern apparel. Over twenty fashion designers graced the recent event which ran under the theme of ‘Vintage Meets Culture’. Tamale keeps refreshing itself with new attractions all the time – motivated tourists will particularly enjoy the through-the-city motorcycle ride.
Tamale has been voted three consecutive times by the Ghana Tourist Board as the cleanest city in Ghana. With urban governance and spatial planning practitioners looking at sustainable urban development in Tamale with respect to buildings, provision and access to urban infrastructure and basic services, the city is on to greater things. Experience the local genius in Sognaayili’s nucleated thatch settlements and see how interwoven daily life, farming and livestock rearing can be.