You would think I might have learned my lesson in Cuba. Or in Uzbekistan. Or in Montenegro or El Salvador. But no, I had to take a picture…
This picture, to be precise:
Trouble At The Ghana Border Outpost In Aflao
When I stepped out of the car in Aflao, Ghana near the Togolese border, I wanted to take some pictures for the blog.
Moments after taking this picture, two guards armed with submachine guns ran over to me.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Uh, taking a picture.
They marched me into the border outpost office and demanded my phone.
I played dumb.
“What do you want?”
“THE PHONE! THE PHONE!”
Oh, the phone.
I was ushered into what appeared to be a commander’s office. The two soldiers spoke to him in another language, though I could not tell if it was Akan, Ewe, or something else. They were very worked up, but the commander was (thankfully) calm.
Commander: “Why were you taking pictures?”
Me: “I’m just a tourist. First time in Ghana.”
Commander: “Don’t take pictures.”
Me: “Yes sir.”
And that was that. I filled out an exit form and was soon stamped out and entered a no-man’s land between Ghana and Togo. At not point was I asked to delete my pictures. Nor was I asked for any sort of bribe. I’m not sure what was so top secret about the “Good Bye” (sic) Ghana sign, but you’ve been warned.
This story is part of my An African Adventure As The World Shut Down trip report.
You were “detained” – I am done reading this blog.
It’s a trip report. I was detained. Your outrage is misplaced.
This is a great post/article! I fear I will never visit Togo, 95% certain so reading about it is the next best thing. ….and reading about the little things, not just a picture of a tourist attraction, but pictures of the street, cars, random people, etc.
I just saw that Google Maps street view does not cover Lome, Togo. It ends in Ghana. I also see that Lome is right on the border, not even suburbs but smack on the border. Even the Embassy of Ghana in Lome, Togo is just 500 ft. from the border.
Have any of the haters/critics ever been taken against your will by armed solders at a border? If he was not detained then what would you call it?
I personally have been in a similar encounter (Egypt) and there is no doubt he was detained against his will. And it was dramatic. For a few moments, which seem much longer, your mind is wondering how this is going to end and will I see my family. Dramatic? Very much so.
I am surprised Matthew was not asked to pay a “fine”.
Do you also call cops detain you every time they stop your car or would you say airlines detain you after landing until the aircraft doors are open?
Maybe you like calling yourself detained at every border entry until and after you clear immigration and customs, normal people don’t call those actions as detained.
Holy clickbait batman… And I fell for it. Do you feel dirty? You should.
You are soo dramatic!! What was the point of that blog title??? Ughhh you wack bloggers and click bait
Btw – you clearly know that most countries get paranoid about pictures at govt checkpoints, which includes immigration/ borders posts,. Smh!
US CBP would frown at photos taken inside immigration halls or any entry points.
I may keep reading but I agree with Mike’s point that the article title is intentionally misleading clickbait. Verb tense matters.
Were you trying to get us a Ghanaian prison cell review? Prison cell reviews will contrast well with lounge reviews, no?
Merry Christmas, sir!
As a travel vlogger,I’m surprised that you are not aware of many countries security sensitivities at borders .
Like Mike , I too am done with the blog .
A bit dramatic?…
Not sure what’s more dramatic, the title or everyone saying they are now “done with this blog” as a result of the title, lol
Only in America people call this as detaining.
By your meaning, every country detains me until and after I clear immigration and customs. Every government building and schools I visit, detain me until I show my ID. Heck even airlines detain me until they open the aircraft door after landing.
Oh please. You have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve visited 138 countries and endured many levels of scrutiny at passport control. This was a totally different incident. Try actually reading the article. I had not even approached the border checkpoint yet when I was “asked” to come inside by two armed men.
No Matthew, I respectively like to differ with you on this. You , yourself said “When I stepped out of the car in Aflao, Ghana near the Togolese border and took the picture”. Any border entry is a sensitive area. There is a reason why its called border entry & people like to find loopholes to get into the country illegal, taking pictures in or near any border entry should be a big NO NO unless and otherwise its allowed. I have seen with my own eyes security guards at IAD immigration taking people for questioning(NOTE I’m not using the words detained) for taking pictures. I was taken along with my spouse and kids for questioning last year as soon as we got out of the aircraft because one of my daughter had slight fever(NOTE, This is prior to COVID19 and once again I’m not calling this as detained).
No Matthew, I respectfully would like to differ with you on this. You , yourself said “When I stepped out of the car in Aflao, Ghana near the Togolese border and took the picture”. Any border entry is a sensitive area. There is a reason why its called border entry and people like to find loopholes to get into a country illegally for any reason, taking pictures in or near any border entry should be a big NO NO unless and otherwise its allowed. I have seen with my own eyes, security guards at IAD immigration taking people for questioning(NOTE I’m not using the words detained) for taking pictures. I was taken along with my spouse and kids for questioning last year as soon as we got out of the aircraft because one of my daughter had slight fever(NOTE, This was prior to COVID19 and once again I’m not calling this as detained).
Then we will respectfully disagree. I wish you a Merry Christmas and thank you for reading and commenting.
Not much Christmas cheer in the comment section, eh? This is a land border I’ve always wanted to cross. I hope to do it one day, and I’ll make sure to keep my phone in my pocket.
As for all the folks that think it’s just inconceivable that someone might pull a camera out at such a sensitive border… I’d have a look at Google Street view. The Good Bye sign is visible from their photos. You all may want to reach out to Mr. Pichai and let him know how irresponsibly he is running his operations in Ghana.
Why am I not surprised Ken, uh Matthew always gets himself in supposed trouble and then baits for clicks.
See, I was 100% correct yesterday, predicting that the bbn photo at the border would cause trouble.
I was once detained at a monument near the street in a place I won’t name. Suddenly, many cars surrounded me and told me to delete photos and never come back again or I would be arrested. Yes sir!
This was a “friendly” country, not Russia or North Korea. In North Korea, I probably would have gotten in a Botulism type coma.
I was “detained “ longer when I could not spit out the name of my originating airport in transit through Zurich.
“ sir where did you originate from” “ ah… ahhh. Cotonou(Benin)“ “ sir, that should not be a hard question “ “ the question is not hard, it’s the name that is hard”.
Don’t like the clickbait, don’t click on his credit card links.
I support Matthew and his blog for its excellent blog posts which I have found useful.
This short story was worth reading. If you don’t like it , there are other things to do in life.
You chose to read it. Take responsibility and move on.
Merry Christmas everyone
sorry this was clickbait. i like the blog, i like the africa trip. This could/should have easily been included in with the last post about crossing the border.
You just hopped out for an innocent picture for your blog. Simple as that. I had a non-travel related “innocent picture” episode. It was at a club in Oregon, a concert that allows ‘small cameras’. So I enjoyed the show. Got some good pics for personal use only (Twitter/Facebook). Great night until as I was walking out , just for the heck of it, I took one picture of people at the merch stand, with T-shirts & CDs on display. Picture was just a nothing snapshot as I walk out. Well – the shit hit the fan when a band staffer saw me take the pic. He had security come and surround me, ask what I was doing, prevent me from leaving the club. They seemed to think I was taking the pix of the march / T-shirts and that I was then going to make my own shirts using their designs. So now I’m very aware of when I take a quick snapshot and the situation / surroundings. So lesson learned for me.