Kammie Holder connects with his lost cousins in Ghana

“Africa is more than wars, pot-bellied children and mud huts.”

SWIMMING UPSTREAM: The Ghana, Barbados connection

by Kammie Holder

I am forced to revisit my pilgrimage to the ancestral home of the majority of Bajans, Ghana.

Why am I doing this?

The decision was prompted by a call last Friday night from a 78-year-old woman. She reminded me of my privileged position and responsibility to readers.

Therefore, I am going to share some things which the mainstream media have failed to share or have not shared enough on this African country located south of the Sahara.

Ghana achieved independence in 1957 under Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

The Portuguese were the first to arrive and they named the place where they settled as the Gold Coast. That became the name of the country until independence in 1957 when it was changed to Ghana. The Gold Coast had been among the wealthiest and most socially advanced areas in Africa boasting schools, railways, hospitals, social security and an advanced economy.

Under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana adopted some socialist policies and practices. He created a welfare system, started various community programmes and established schools. The capital of Ghana was moved from Cape Coast to Accra by the British in 1876. Ghanaians come from six main ethnic groups Akan, Ashanti and Fanti, the Ewe: Ga-Adangbe, Mole-Dagbani, Guan and Gurma. Its current population stands at 23 million.

I have said before Barbados has always had a strong Ghana connection not only in its ancestry but through the work of lawyer Vernon Smith who served as a judge and the late Thomas Padmore a political advisor to Nkrumah.

Padmore was a person of Barbadian and Trinidadian parentage after whom a library in Accra is named and whose ashes are interred in Ghana.

Still, there’s another connection. Local delicacies such as conkies and cou cou are eaten there daily. You will also find guttaperks on sale in the market.

And, no exaggeration, as you move around you will see faces that are as familiar as those you see on Broad Street.

In fact, who do you think runs the four-star Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi? A very hospitable 38-year-old Barbadian.

It’s hoped, just as it’s every Muslim goal to visit Mecca, it will be every Barbadian’s goal to visit Ghana and experience the hospitality and love of his or her sixth or seventh cousin.

Africa is more than wars, pot-bellied children and mud huts.

• Kammie Holder, the boy from the village, thinking… Why burn snails when we can eat them to extinction?

This article also appears in The Nation: The Ghana, Barbados connection


Filed under Africa, Barbados, History

13 responses to “Kammie Holder connects with his lost cousins in Ghana

  1. crabbie

    Why eat them when we can export them Kammie the revenue from his market can come in handy maybe we can recommend this as a African snail policy to the new Minister of Snails and rat bait. And Minister David Estwick will be his first Bill to parliament. Ruff Ruff

  2. checkit-out

    Kammie; I can agree with practically everything you have written in this article. a typical Barbadian walking through the streets of Accra or Kumasi would feel quite at home as far as the faces of the people, their hospitality and their attitudes go . However, I think it would be a herculean task to get Barbadians to eat the snails to extinction unless things really get very very dire around here.

  3. checkit-out

    Crabbie; I think you are making fun of the new Minister but actually, I don’t think that the idea of finding a viable use for snail protein and then implementing it in a pilot project here in Barbados is a bad one.

  4. HM

    I’m sure if you go anywhere in West Africa, you’ll find ‘familiar’ faces, not just in Ghana.

  5. ac

    kammie when are you planning to moved there.

  6. Sheena

    poor guys, you don’t really have a clue about Ghana and Africa. Seen from the Golden Tulip windows it looks lovely… Ghanaians make fun of you: “look at those tourists, we sold their ancestors centuries ago, what do they want here now?”.

  7. @Sheena, I am sorry to see your negative perception which was probably based on an unfriendly incident. My experience in Ghana was very welcoming and pampering. What I can say is that most Africans in the UK are less than friendly to the point of snobbery, which is my experience. People are people where ever you go. Sheena, you cannot allow a few misfits to cloud your experience of Africa.

    Some Barbadians are treated like strangers in Barbados. Lets embrace the positive about Ghana and Africa!

  8. Did I hear the outgoing Minister of Agriculture saying we collected 3000tons of African snails, which are then incinerated. Pickers are paid 50Cents. If a ton is 2200lbs and 3000tons were collected conversion to pounds would be 6,600,000 then at 50cents per pound. How much was paid out? Can someone tell me how much US that translate to? If a Ghanaian buys a pound of snails for US$1 how much can we earn in foreign currency. Oh by the way the Ghanaians are eating this delicacy to extinction, thus why they is a shortage of snails in Ghana.

  9. gg

    Kammie, I like your style and I like escargots with garlic butter and parsley. I wonder how they would taste pickled….pudding and snails…hm…got my mouth watering fa sum. How do they prepare them in Ghana? Does your family still operate the shop up in St Judes? If so how is Archie?

  10. Beefcake


    While your experience was idyllic, there is a darker side to Ghana too.

    Check out reports at Anti-Slavery International and BBC News about child slavery practices that are currently in Ghana, such as those of parents in northern regions selling their children into slavery who are then relocated to the south of the country (for example, to work for fishermen).

    On a political front, I recall colleagues from university that were escaping political persecution in Ghana. At least political dissidents in Barbados seldom fear for their lives.

    Historically, Ghana has been one of the more advanced and prosperous African countries, and has the potential for becoming even greater in the future, turmoil caused by corruption and politics continue to be a bane for that society.

  11. @gg, wrong Kammie, I am from Church Village to be precise Cox Hill.

    @Beefcake, while I was there I heard the government talking about clamping down on child slavery. However lets look at what is positive about Ghana. Yes, Ghana has many problems that we don`t have in Barbados.

  12. gg


    There is a darker side to humanity, no matter where you go in the world. Most people have ideas and lack ideals. Spirituality teaches us to Love God and thy neighbor.
    We humans are out of balance, it is Spirituality the keeps us centered. Like the spokes in a rim!

    Now Kammie, about them escargots, I would like you to organize a few pounds and carry them to the Chefs down Sandy Lane.

  13. Mri-cybog

    Kammie, Kammie, Kammie,

    Why advocate the extinction of snails? Would you like a snail to eat you into extinction?

    My….you are an idyllic person, however you must do your homework on Ghana before declaring your undying love for the country.

    Now about the escargots menu, how many pounds of snails have been sold to the hotels? How about some flying fish served with a side order of snails um..yumy!!!