There are artifacts, souvenirs, and other articles you need to buy when you visit any country. If you come to Ghana, apart from the many peculiar phenomenons that take place, there are certain things to buy to show people back that you really visited Ghana. Gifts that also reflect the beauty of ghanaian culture, its artisanal work, and the power of its resources! If you want to know what are the best gifts from Ghana you can get, you came to the right place.
Must-have gifts from Ghana
Natural Skincare – Ghana’s ancestral beauty products
African beauty rituals and natural skincare products are rooted in the ghanaian culture and have been used since centuries. Plant botanicals like; roots, herbs, oils and butters were first used to efficaciously treat ailments, maintain health or as part of ceremonious occasions like births and weddings. These same plant botanicals have powerful results when used as part of your beauty routine.
Ghanaian Shea Butter & African Black Soap
Shea butter is one of the most important local products in Northern Ghana and also few other African countries. It is a great moisturiser. It protects the skin from all weather conditions (wind, cold, sun and even during harmattan season). It is multipurpose; it can be used on the face, body and hair and even for cooking.
African black soap has also been used for centuries in West Africa, originating with the Yoruba people in Nigeria and Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. It is a great product to cleanse and exfoliate your skin with.
The shea butter and black soap market in Ghana are saturated with a large variety of skincare companies offering these amazing products. You can almost go crazy with the variety of options. Here we give you recommendations to brands offering these two products which we believe are worthwhile a try:
- Africana Skincare: a great gift to take back home due to the originality of its packaging.
- Nokware Skincare: they offer very good gift boxes
- Skin Gourmet: a part from their shea butter and black soap, they have amazing natural face scrubs you can compliment it with
- Hamamat:They have the safari shea, which is shea that is yellow in colour, not golden as you will find it normally. It has added benefits that the golden shea doesn’t have.
Another good place to find gifts from Ghana is in the local markets in Accra. You will always find raw shea butter and black soap available in the local markets. However, keep in mind they will be served to you inside small plastic bags (or a rubber as they say here) which may not be the most suitable for a gift!
Tailored clothes and fabrics
Vibrant colours and bold prints is almost like a form of expression of ghanaian lifestyle. If you live for some time in Ghana (or any other African country as a matter of fact) you will probably find yourself changing your wardrobe to a more daring and colourful one (that is when you know you are integrating into ghanaian culture!).
You will find your own tailor and in a matter of time, will be making your own clothes. It is almost like an addiction, due to the variety of fabrics you can find available – almost like a kid feels inside a candy store!
In Ghana, African wear is a dress made from African prints. It has become known as Friday wear in Ghana, an initiative by former President John Kufour to promote the local textile industry. Because of that, if you go to many offices on Fridays, you would see workers in their African prints, most of which are branded with the institution’s identity. However, quite recently, it has moved from becoming just Friday wear to everyday wear, except for companies that have strict dress codes.
Here are some fabrics you can take back home, or even surprise your loved one with a tailored made piece of clothing!
Batik making is an ancient art form and craft of making fabric by hand. The technique involves using a stamp which is dipped in melted wax and then printed on the fabric. Here are some places you can find beautiful batik fabric:
- Global Mamas shop in Osu (they also have a branch in Cape Coast).
- Esther’s batik shop
The colourful kente cloth, Ghana’s identity
Have you ever dressed as a royal from another country before? If no, then this is your chance. There is a particular region in Ghana called the Ashanti region with people we call Akans who during festivals, dress up in Kente. Legend has it that the weaving of the Kente cloth was learned from how a spider weaves its web. It is told that two friends observed a spider intently and grasped the skill with which it weaved its web and applied it to raffia fibers to create a strip of fabric.
It is a very colorful fabric, made of silk and cotton. Every color found in the Kente cloth means something; for example, black is for maturation and spiritual energy. Blue is for peacefulness, harmony, and love, and so on. To this day, the Kente cloth has become a traditional cloth for most Ghanaians, donned on only special occasions like weddings and the largest festivals in Ghana.
Best places to buy kente is at local markets: Makola Market, Madina market, Accra Arts Centre, Kaneshie market, and Osu Oxford street.
In fact, to come to Ghana, either for a short or long stay, and not buying a piece of Kente cloth back home is the same as not visiting Ghana at all.
The loveable Smock
Another traditional outfit and one of the greatest gifts from Ghana is Smock. It originates from the northern part of Ghana. It is an artisanal piece, completely handmade like the Kente, only the Kente is more colourful and the Smock is heavier.
There are various types of traditional smocks peculiar to various areas of Northern Ghana which produces the bulk of the nation’s traditional smocks. There are generally three traditional smock designs identified with the country’s Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The Upper West Region is known for producing the best ‘cool colour’ smocks. These generally combine different shades of blue and green or both colours with other “quiet colours” such as yellow, white, blue and green.
The Upper East Region is noted for ‘warm colour’ smocks in which various shades of red or orange dominate other colours of the fabric; and the Northern Region is noted for its ‘heavy duty’ smocks because of their generally large size and heavy fabric.
Smocks are usually worn on special occasion. No chief is enskinned or enstooled in any of the three regions of the north without wearing a smock. That will be a lost of identity, something that will be vehemently opposed by the subjects.
You don’t travel to the north without buying a smock, as you are assured of its quality and authenticity.
Jewellery made in Ghana
The most popular (and ancient) type of ghanaian jewellery are beads. Originated from the Krobo people, beads still play a very prevalent role in modern Krobo culture. For example, beads are used in ceremonies of birth, coming of age, marriage, or death and are generously displayed in festivals and parades.
These are made from a diverse array of materials. Some of the oldest beads were made from natural materials such as stones, clay, plant materials such as doum palm nuts and bamboo stems, animal materials such as ostrich eggshells and bones, among others.
The best beads are specially made for kings, queens, elders and other important personalities. Waist beads also have their own particular simbolism. In some communities also, it is only people from the royal families that are seen wearing a particular type of bead. In other communities too, voodoo priests wear beads as bracelets and anklets and they are readily identified by community members and given special respect in the society.
Beads can be found in many local markets (Oxford street itself) and can come in many forms: hand or ankle bracelet, necklace, even waist beads (which are a little different to the glass beads). However, we want to offer you something with a bit of a twist. Here are two local brands that incorporate beads into their jewellery with a modern twist:
Hand woven objects: reflection of Ghana’s ancestral techniques
Weaving is a longtime, ancestral technique used in Ghana to create all sorts of beautiful objects. The materials used are very vast: elephant grass, cane, bamboo, rattan, you name it. You can be as creative as you want and visit the Arts Centre and have one of the artisans you find there make a personalised gift for you. However, we are here to also make life easier for you so here is a list of local brands that offer beautiful handwoven gifts:
- My Bobo Bag: beautiful handbags made out of bamboo.
- Aketekete: a part from handmade jewellery, they also have beautiful woven objects.
Check out our guide to the best markets in Accra where you will find a number of local brands to buy home decorative objects such as the Bolga baskets and many more!
Yes, crafts have long been an identity of Africans and Ghana is no exception. How many of us don’t love it when a piece of wooden craft is used as decoration in our offices or homes? In Ghana, crafts are not just for beautification alone, they send message.
Some tell the story of a caring mother; others bravery; and others humility. For example, an artifact that shows a mother carrying her baby at the back sends a message of how caring mothers are. Many adults buy this to remind them of the struggles their mothers went through to bring them up in life.
An artifact of a hen and its chicks also carries a message of the care and protection a mother gives her children till they grow up.
An artifact of a lion may also be a message of bravery or power. So African crafts have more to tell than the purpose of decoration. That is why it makes it a beautiful gift to buy for a dear one.
The next time you go to town, look for any of these gifts from Ghana mentioned in this article and get them to show family and friends back home that you went to Ghana, the land of rich culture!
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