About The Region
The Upper West Region is one of the ten regions of Ghana. It is located at the North-Western corner of Ghana with latitude 9.8°- 11.O° North and longitude 1.6°- 3.0 West, bounded to Burkina Faso to the North. It covers a geographical area of 18,476 square kilometres which represents 12.7% of the total land area of Ghana.
The northern Ghana-Burkina Faso border, on the east by the Upper East region and Northern region, on the south by the Northern Region, and on the west by the western Ghana-Burkina Faso border borders the Upper West Region on the north.
It is the seventh-largest region in Ghana in total area, and it is made up of eleven (11) districts. By virtue of its location, it has the potential for international and inter-regional trade and other bilateral relations, but the overspill of criminal activities and disasters, such as bush fires, diseases and pestilence, armed robbery etc., from our neighbours also pose a threat to the region.
Tour Sites in the Region
Gwollu Slave Defense Wall
In a small community near the Ghana-Burkina Faso border stands one of the only two remaining slave defence walls in Ghana. This historical monument in Ghana’s town of Gwollu is a reminder of the dark history and dangers of the slave trade in the remote northern “hinterlands.”
While Nalerigu’s famous wall was built in the 18th century (and probably for different reasons), Gwollu’s was erected in the 19th century; this was decades after the slave trade was abolished in 1807 in the United States and England. While the transatlantic slave trade had (almost) come to a complete stop, there was still a demand within West Africa and local slave raiders were still an issue. The regions that form today’s northern Ghana were plagued by raids from two particularly notorious warlords named Babatu and Samori.
In response to their incessant attacks, the Sisalla leader Kuoro Tangia built the wall – actually a double-ringed wall – to protect the town. The thick inner wall protected the homes in the community and a second outer wall encircled their farms and water sources.
The wall was built voluntarily by the community (unlike Naa Jeringa’s wall in Nalerigu) and it was built of simple, yet sturdy, mud & grass bricks. Triangular spaces were left in the wall to allow lookouts to see through. According to oral tradition, each wall took two to three years to build and was a success deterring the raids.
Visiting the Gwollu Slave Defence Wall in West Sissala District
The biggest obstacle to tourism in Gwollu is its remote location and lack of infrastructure. It’s about as far north and close to the Burkina Faso border as you can get in Ghana. Only three of the other 253 districts capitals are farther north – Paga, Bawku, and Pusiga.
The easiest way to reach this town (“easiest” being a relative term) is from Navrongo to Tumu to Gwollu. That’s about 150km of driving and the roads are so bad that it will take 4-5 hours. If you aren’t in a private vehicle and take local buses and tro-tros, I imagine you’re looking at nearly 8+ hours of travel with all the stops, waiting and delays.
When visiting, one must first greet the chief and request permission for a tour. If you’re lucky you can have a chat with the very amicable chief and learn a bit about the history and the community. A small donation is requested for the upkeep of the structure and a libation offering may be suggested (but not required) for the grave of former president Dr Hilla Limann which is located inside the chief’s compound.
Photographs are permitted of the slave wall but one must ask permission to shoot within the chief’s palace as there are several shrines and tombs that are off-limits.