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Opinions of Sunday, 22 December 2013

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

Paga, The Tranquility Place In The World.

Robert started seeing the real truth when he landed at the Kotoka International Airport, where he was greeted by smartly dressed custom officers and was shown the exit after some few routine formalities.

Robert Miller, an energetic young man who hails from Tennessee in the USA, heard of Paga being the most peaceful place on earth. He decided to be a pilgrim of the town. His aim was to acquaint himself with the prevailing trends that made it possible for it to acclaim such enviable accolade in the world.

Paga shares a border with Burkina Faso and forms part of the Upper East Region in Ghana. He glided through the streets of Bolgatanga the capital of the region and unfolded his camera and camcorder. He made sure he wouldn’t miss anything that will be memorable for the trip.

He took a couple of pictures of the beautiful art and crafts merchandise usually aligned on the streets on market days for sale. He grabbed a hat because it was sunny and asked for the price and paid for it instantly because, it was so cheap. Surprising to Robert, the owner of the merchandise added another hat for him. Robert said no I’m paying for only one but, the owner said the second one was a gift.

At that stage, Robert decided to pay for the second one too but, the owner vehemently refused to accept payment. In a welcoming tone, the merchant said “we are always happy to see strangers and tourist like you here in Bolgatanga and in Ghana in general”

Robert shook his head in amazement and asked, what’s your name? Awuni, he answered. Robert cleared his throat shook his hand and thanked him for being so generous.

Bolgatanga is the hub of beautiful arts and crafts of all kinds and shapes. Robert bought a couple of them for souvenir and to send some of them to his friends. He patently realized that art and crafts found in Bolgatanga are generally knitted and curved out of original authentic materials, not with falsified synthetic to finagle people. Secondly he saw that the people he met in Bolgatanga were very friendly people. They sold him quality items and equally treated him generously.

He arrived at Navrongo and walked through the streets of the town. There he wanted something to eat because, he was hungry and was directed to Mayaga Hotel. If you’ve ever visited Navrongo and didn’t stay in Mayaga Hotel, it means you’ve missed a lot. Mayaga Hotel is a home away from your home.

He met some western tourists who were lodging there. The way Robert saw them so comfortably relaxed in their seats, suddenly all his extreme apprehension of uncertainty drifted away. He sat down, ordered for his food. After eating, he asked, is Paga far away from here?

Not at all, it’s just five miles away, one of the tourists responded. Robert relaxed and made sure the food he ate settled down. He booked for a place and slept soundly that night. He later said services were exceptionally great.

The following day he took his breakfast before he started the journey to Paga. Upon entering Paga, he saw a large gathering. He later discovered that was the Palace of the Paramount Chief Awia Awanmpaga II. He didn’t want to miss that multitude so, he went straight to see what was going on there.

Arriving at the Chiefs Palace, he was told it was one of their usual gatherings. Some of the suburbs within the influence and jurisdiction of the Paga community often assemble dancers to entertain the Chief with the Nagla Dancing Troupe.

Robert took a lot of shorts with his camera and recorded almost every activity there. Whiles he was busy recording, one beautiful lady went straight and told him not to miss the fun. Pushing further the lady asked him to join her side of the dancing troupe.

At first he had wanted to refuse but, the lady leaned to his ear and gleefully whispered. “Being a man you don’t want to lose a challenge to a lady”.

Robert giggled and said but I can’t dance like you. The lady responded, “we can always learn”. Robert didn’t want to be defeated so, he joined the lady in the dancing circle. He started to move his feet and his waist just as the professional dancers were doing.

With time, Robert became so much interested in the Nagla dance that, the lady took the camera and the camcorder away from him for safe keeping. Witnessing how Robert was having fun, some other tourist also joined the dancing troupe so, it became a real competition momentarily.

In no time Robert became so comfortable in taking his steps, shaking his waist and swinging his hands following the rhythm of the drums just like the professional dancers. Sometimes he missed some of the steps to conform but, his group being the local professional dancers urged him on and the crowd cheered him. Their group won at the end of that competition and he was really happy. “I had a lot of fun” he said.

After the dancing competition he was so happy that, he zestfully exclaimed “Paga is really the most peaceful with the friendliest people in the whole world”!

After the dancing had gone into recess, Robert was tied so he sat down and some of the dancers joined him. Robert felt so ensconced and started conversing heartily with his newly found friends.

They took him to the Chief and were given a delegate who showed him round the Palace. He had the opportunity to see for himself the artifacts of their ancestors and the geneses of the settlement of Paga.

Robert received back his camera and his camcorder. The Chief again gave him a tour guide to all the tourist attraction sites. They went to the Pikworo Slave Camp first.

Pikworo Slave Camp is a place in Paga precisely at Nania towards the road to Kajelo. There slaves were camped while the slave masters braced themselves to send them to the coast for onward journey through the Atlantic Ocean to the West for servitude.

This location surrounded with stones was used during the slave trade era, a spot which often times exude puissant disturbing emotional moments and somberly rekindles the brutality of the barbaric human trade that happened some years ago.

At the Pikworo Slave Camp, Robert kept musing. He became so sad when he was shown around the place dotted with round marble stones used by the slaves to entertain themselves. He said nothing at that stage but, his persona was visibly completely changed, he was so moved emotionally that he kept his face in his palms for some time.

He became so empathetic of the situation and wanted to put himself into the position of the captives that went through those horrific journeys, to imagine what they went through and how they felt under those dehumanizing conditions.

To cogitative people around the world, Pikworo Slave Camp epitomizes some of the pivotal points of brutality of the human being against their fellow human beings during the slave trade. It’s beyond comprehension to minutely believe the human being can descend to that level.

The next place he visited was the Paga Crocodile Pond of the Chief. It was amazing to Robert. The somber moments of the Pikworo Slave Camp melted away as he saw the Sacred Crocodiles coming out from the pond.

Initially, he was cautious and apprehensive of the reptiles knowing very well how they can be very turbulent in some places. He was very cognizant they can devour anything including human beings but, after some few moments of hesitations, he became so comfortable with the friendly jocosity displayed by the handlers of the pond which calmed him down.

He finally mustered hardihood and sat on some of the Crocodiles. Thereafter he then became comfortable enough to hold their heavy tails, including all that he could possibly do to pose with the Crocodiles. He took a lot of pictures and recorded most of the scenes he liked most.

He went back to the Chiefs Palace and met him, at that time the crowd had dispersed and the atmosphere was very calm. With a smile, the affable Paramount Chief of Paga beckoned him to sit beside him.

Robert asked a lot of questions regarding the Crocodiles. Specifically how Crocodiles could be so tamed and can be touched without being volatile. The Chief instructed one of his aides to answer all the questions pertinent to Robert.

Thereafter the Chief told Robert his people in Paga including the surrounding suburbs under his influence cultivate tomatoes. He further told Robert they have a lot of sheanuts but, they process them locally under very difficult procedures.

He emphasized if Robert could open a factory to process the tomato and sheanut including any other factory that could make the area vibrant with commercial activities in Paga, it will be very helpful to his people. He assured him lands for industrial purposes are readily available. All Robert needs to do is get the processing machines into Ghana. Robert promised if he gets back to Tennessee, USA he will talk to his business partners to seriously consider getting those factories in Paga due to the peaceful and the friendly nature of the people.

When Robert was leaving, the Chief re-emphasized, the Government including my people will support you and any investor who’s ready to bring commercial activity to Paga.

My dear readers, Paga is a very peaceful place with the friendliest people you can find in the whole world. Robert easily ensconced even though he had just met some few friends in Paga. Setting up commercial activity in a peaceful place is very important. Paga is the best place because, in return you’ll reap profitable remuneration with a sound mind, with unadulterated glaring support from peaceful people.

Benignity is a legacy handed down from their ancestors that instilled in them welcoming nature and friendliness. Visitors and strangers, of all shapes, colors and sizes, are treated with dignity. Irrespective of where they come from in any part of the world.

“Pagatina” locally, that’s how the people of Paga are called including all the surrounding suburbs that falls within the Paga jurisdiction. They are putatively socially gregarious because, it’s intrinsically part of their culture.

To expand your understanding of why the Crocodiles in Paga are not volatile and surround yourself with friendly people, please visit Paga. Do not settle on stories. You deserve better. Do yourself a favor and visit Paga personally.

You need to see the stunning actions prevailing there yourselves. In other words, the mystery surrounding these Sacred Crocodiles can satisfactorily be delineated when you get to Paga yourselves.

The friends of Robert took him to Pims Club one of the best clubs in Paga town to eat. Surprisingly they met that lady who invited Robert to the Nagla dancing competition. Robert was so happy and invited the lady to join his table.

It was all smiles on that table, with Robert evocating some of the hilarious moments that happened during the Nagla dancing period. He enjoyed the tilapia soup with rice balls and asked for more. One of Robert friends settled the bill for whatever they ate there leaving him bemused so, the friend quipped, and you are always welcome to Paga.

It was late so, Robert booked one of the Hotels called Kubs Lodge and had a sound sleep of his life in Paga after watching CNN to abreast himself with trends going on around the world. He said, “Kubs Lodge will be my home anytime I visit Paga”.

Robert promised to be in Paga most of the time or at least twice every year. It was a memorable journey for Robert. He didn’t want to be a selfish tourist and wanted everybody to have a sense of what he experienced in the tranquility town of Paga.

Balemwo Assam balemwo@yahoo.co.uk Washington DC