Every Easter weekend, thousands of people from around the world gather in the tranquil Ghanaian towns of Kwahu and Atibie for a paragliding festival and Easter carnival that locals hope will establish the West African nation as a hub for extreme sports. .
This year marked the festival’s return to its annual schedule after the Covid-19 pandemic forced organizers to postpone events for the past two years.
About 400 people signed up for tandem flights with professional pilots, rivaling some of the festival’s most popular years, according to Tourism data. Dozens brought their own equipment to fly alone.
Adrenaline hungry participants strapped on their belts and ran from a ridge atop the second highest mountain in Ghana. As their kites caught wind, pilots and passengers were launched into the sky.
Ghanaian paraglider Jonathan Quaye, 40, first flew in 2006, the festival’s second year, as a passenger on an American paraglider. He has been paragliding ever since.
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Having acquired his tandem certification during the pandemic, he is now the only Ghanaian at the festival certified to take others to the clouds.
“People think it’s not a safe sport, or they have a white-only mentality,” he said after landing. “But all those people who say that were never here.”
Quaye was one of four Ghanaian paragliders to fly solo at this year’s festival, two of whom live outside of Ghana. But the scene is growing, thanks in part to what Quaye said is the sport’s innate quality to promote community.
Stephen Owusu Asamoah, a Ghanaian living in the United States, returned to his hometown of Kwahu – about 150 km (90 miles) north of the capital Accra – with his own kite and equipment earlier this month, looking forward to attending the festival. after learning to fly last year.
“When you see people like you doing what you want to do, it lets you know that you can get into it too,” he said. “I feel like this is going to really motivate a lot of people.”
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