I am proud to have conquered the tallest mountain in Ghana Lexis Bill

I really didn’t know what to expect when Joy FM decided we should go to the tallest mountain in Ghana to climax the Ghana month celebrations. I loved the challenge, more so when I had an opportunity to burn some calories. Most important though, was the opportunity to bond with my listeners, one on one. (Yeah, my job involves speaking to millions of people everyday but all I see is a microphone. So anything to interact with people in ‘real life’ is always welcome).

Soon, the trip idea became a whole carnival as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative arts, Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare joined in with scores of officials from the ministry and tourism authority. The team from Toyota Ghana led by Charles Aglago meandered the rough terrain with their rugged and robust 4wheel drives and made it to Afadjato in record time. Our listeners were there in their numbers, both young and old. After a 4 hour bumpy ride with a driver who seemed to be recovering from a broken heart hence pushed a playlist of Westlife, Celine Dion and Shania Twain down our throat, we finally arrived at the Afadjato.

The road to Gbledi is littered with lots of mountains, hills, ranges and I wondered, why don’t we just get down at Shai Hills and climb one of these mountains since what we want to do is climb a mountain? But of course that thought exited a second after it appeared because I was reminded it was more than a climb. This was history in the making.

The Chiefs and people of Gbledi and Liati made it even more glamorous. We arrived to drumming and dancing, rich cultural display and probably a way of taking our minds off the over 2,904 feet of mountain and forest ahead of us. The men thumped the drums with their might and the ladies sang cheerfully as some wiggled and moved gloriously to the borborbor rhythms. You couldn’t help but admire our rich culture, our music and our dances. We are a very rich nation. The PRO of the Afadjato tourism project gave us some insight into the name of the mountain and the natives of the villages surrounding it.

Soon the walk began. Gently, we had to weave through a combination of herbaceous and woody plant species. A mass flora covering a steep rock with a pathway only etched by footprints and regular adventure seekers. You’re either placing your foot on a loose rock or trying to hold on to the hanging branch or a tree and soon we got to know at first hand why the mountain was named Afadzato. The name of the mountain was derived from the Ewe word Avadzeto, meaning “at war with the bush.”

The war continued, not just with the bush but with yourself. Occasionally, I’d take a seat on a rock and referee the inner battle going on between my heart and my mind. Whilst my mind was excited about how far I had come up the mountain, my heart was pounding faster than the Pistons in a turbo engine block. Tired, sweaty, wobbling legs, with a bottle of water in hand, I held on to every support I could get. In a group like this, you’re bound to lend a helping hand and so, aside climbing up, the joy laid in the fact that you could lend a hand to somebody, pull them up a step further and the ‘thank yous’ made you feel good or even better, the thought that they think you’re not tired. I wish they knew.

In my mind, I sang a song by Labi Siffre to myself,

“The higher you build your barriers the taller I become, The farther you take my rights away the faster I will run, You can deny me, you can decide to turn your face away

No matter ’cause there’s
Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it”
Just when I was humming the last line, I met somebody whose phone was playing Shatta Wale’s Kakai! The song might have scared the lyrics of Labi Siffre out of my mind. Now I was all up on the mountain singing ‘hai hai hai, Afadjato a come like Kakai’. lol

People sat on rocks and protruding tree roots to rest and take in some water, others spent minutes waiting for their partners to catch their breath, some spent time encouraging others and reminding them why they travelled 4 hours wearing Nike sneakers and track suits. A quarter into the journey. I came across an interesting sight; my programs manager, Kofi Ansah lying almost motionless in the bush, arms wide spread, eyes closed and mouth open, almost as if he was waiting for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Well, I wasn’t going to give him CPR, besides I remembered he made me work on a Holiday, so I left him there.

I continued further and not long after I’d hear people screaming ‘we made it’. That’s when I knew I was almost at the top. My producer Philip was a few meters behind me, (as if to remind me of the next commercial break lol) I gathered a little more energy and run up a few meters just to show off but it was a bad idea. I run out of gas just about 10 meters from the top. I watched people waving flags and smiles on top of the mountain whilst I sat a few meters below, googling ‘how to complete the last 10 meters’. But it wasn’t for long. Like a snail, I meandered through the rocks and made it to the top and oh, what a view to behold. It was beautiful and it depicted the might of the creator.

Finally on top of Afadjato, lying in the Agomatsa range, comforted by other mountains with rock layers and thick forest, characterized by peace and serenity. A more refreshing climate depicting how far we were into the troposphere.

There were enough smiles to go around, laughter finally, Yofi Grant was ‘ponded’ at the top because it was his birthday, hugs (yeah with the sweat and all, eeeew lol), handshakes, high fives, didn’t see kisses though.

It was fulfilling. All the life lessons I unconsciously picked from the climb started playing in my head as I descended.

Life is indeed not a race as documented by Edem Knight Tay’s Afadjato experience. About 10 minutes into the climb, I overheard her say, this is more difficult than I thought. Since I went ahead and couldn’t spot her behind me anywhere, I figured she might have given up. Almost 20minutes after descending, she came running out of the woods, screaming ‘I made it, I made it’ and the joy on her face was priceless. Indeed, life is not a race. Take your time, live life at your pace, not somebody else’s. Take motivation from the strides of people around you, let them inspire your journey, just don’t compare yourself to them. We are all a product of different experiences. We react differently to things emotionally, physically and psychologically. Seek for your own personal elevation and you can do so effectively whilst helping other people up. If you meet people on your way that could benefit from your help, give it wholeheartedly.

Also remember, fear depletes power, faith gives wings for the soul’s elevation. No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it. Just keep working towards it and you’ll find the positive side of things.

As I climbed with a young 7 year old and came across older people like Mary Akorful and our oldest female participant who is 69 years, it was evident to me that like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, the mind is the limit. As long as your mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you believe 100 percent.

We descended the mountain and went for another feast with the men and women of Gbledi who welcomed us with indigenous Ewe rhythms and the war dance. The Mankrado of Gledi Gbogame Togbe Adagra VI, welcomed me with a fresh palmwine. (Please don’t check how many calories I replaced in my body). But it was a beautiful showcase, had lunch with PaJohn’s grills, and DJ Andy Dosty’s mixes. We had time to network and meet the many amazing individuals who joined us in this adventure trip. We’ve made friends, business partners and a family. I cherish this!

To my listeners who joined this trip, thank you. I’m looking forward to another trip with you. Thanks to the Minister of Tourism Culture and Creative Arts Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare and her husband, The Chief and people of Gledi and Liati Wote, the team from Toyota Ghana and the Multimedia Team. God bless Ghana. May we all discover Ghana some more and help promote our beautiful sites.

The journey back to Accra was surreal (well only because I remember only an hour of the 4 hours lol). But yes, I’m proud to have conquered the tallest mountain in Ghana, Afadjato.

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