The "ghosts" of Northern Ghana

"So how come you guys can sleep and roam in the night without being haunted by the ghosts and witches that abound in your neighbourhood?"

If you've ever had a conversation about nightlife in Northern Ghana with a non-Northerner, this will probably be one of the questions you are likely to be quizzed on.

Image - Ghost
Ghosts are alleged to be so rampant in the northern part of Ghana. Some even
assume they can be seen in daylight. Image Courtesy: Medical Daily

I was roaming one night with friends. The whole place was dark, except for houses with solar lanterns and rechargeable lamps. The power grid went off due to the ongoing load shedding programme, and the moon hadn't appeared yet.
We were just roaming in our neighbourhood during the early hours of the night [between 8 - 9 pm]. A friend voiced that he was feeling sleepy and wanted to go home. We went to see him off. We were three in number by then.

After seeing our friend off, I and my other friend turned to go back into the street. On our way back, my friend who was in front began reducing his steps. I realized it and asked why. He refused to answer. He rather suggested that I lead the way. Upon my insistence, he told me there was something on our way. He didn't know what it was. When I entreated that we move closer to see what it was, he refused, saying that he would not risk his life. When I decided to take the lead towards the unknown object, he was still standing behind, with no attempt to follow up.

There was some strangeness as I approached the object. The closer I get to the object, the more it veers off the road into the bush. What could it possibly be? I wondered. Certainly, it was not an animal, considering its structure. I was frightened for the first time when the thought of ghosts crossed my mind.

But there we were, in the middle of the road and in the bush. There was no escape from danger, I thought. If we remain still, another object might also come from behind, and the two will cage us in. The only way was to just move forward. So I said to myself, "All die be die!" I turned and told my friend, "If we will die, we will surely die this night and if we will be heroes, this was a time to act heroically! We can't just stand still in the midst of this road at this time of night." He began taking slow steps towards me.

I then mustered enough courage and took further steps towards where the object was standing. My friend followed behind me with an alertness to run in case the unknown object decides to chase us.

Slowly we approached where the object was standing. We finally got to where the object was, and to our utter surprise, someone called my name and asked where we were returning from at that time (around 10:30 pm).

I recognized the voice immediately and called out his name too. It was a friend who had come to attend to nature's call in the bush. We talked for some time before leaving him to return later. The phobia had left us and we returned to our former selves. Immediately we left the scene, my friend behind uttered some words saying, " This guy paaa. He nearly made me collapse. How can you come that far for "free range?"" It seems the guy heard him and giggled.

After the incident, I began thinking about this kind of experience in the shoes of a stranger. His suspicion of an abundance of ghosts in Northern Ghana would have been 'confirmed' because the guy would not have known him to call out his name and talk to him. He would then have gone to spread the falsity to all his friends, and they too, to their friends and their friends to their friends and so on till it gets back to us.

What do you make of the perception of ghosts in northern Ghana? Share your thoughts here.

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