Cart is empty
Story: Motorfoɔ (pronounced motofwoh) means “motorbike riders” in Twi, the language spoken across Ghana. The word conjures up images of grown men riding motorbikes which is a common sight in Ghana. Drive around Accra and you’ll see plenty of men riding bikes. If you see a woman on one, she is likely to be sitting behind the man; for the duration of the journey, he is in control.
Female hawkers are also commonplace in Ghana. You’ll spot them carefully trying to weave their way through a traffic jam, doing all they can to avoid a wounding clash with a motorfoɔ. It’s analogous to the gender power struggle.
Motorcyclists in Ghana do not tend to comply with road rules. They run red lights, drive on the wrong side of the road and are reluctant to stop at zebra crossings. There are little or no legal penalties for their chaotic behaviour; the bedlam is recurrent, the power struggle exacerbated.
Before my trip, I asked numerous people that are more familiar with the terrain about their experiences in Tamale, a predominantly Muslim and conservative part of Ghana. I received an extensive list of things to see, food to try and places to stay. In passing, one of my friends added “Oh, motorbikes! They’re everywhere!”
So I knew to expect countless motorfoɔ in Tamale. But what I did not expect was the myriad of women driving them in kaba (traditional Ghanaian dress) and hijabs with young children strapped to their backs. Everyday transport in Tamale was redefining stereotypes in its own way.
You May Also Like
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
Embrace the adventurous appetite of the next generation with an annual subscription. SUITCASE Magazine challenges travel perceptions with thought-provoking photo journals, city guides and articles by award-winning international writers.
We'll tell you where you can find the perfect boutique hotel in Paris for under £150, if you tell us about the best dive bar in your city. Deal? Share your stories and photos with #SUITCASEtravels.