Yet Ghana shows me its might and power
Not in its color nor its flower
But in its wondrous breadth of soul
Its Joy of Life
Its selfless role
School and clinic, home and hall
Road and garden bloom and call
Socialism blossoms bold
On Communism centuries, old – W.E.B Dubois
Like Malcolm X’s trip to Mecca, my trip to Ghana opened my eyes. It exposed me to the lies, I been fed about Africa all my life. Africa is poor they said, but all I saw was riches. Rich sunlight kissing this piece of the earth like no other, rich fruit with an abundant amount of flavor, rich people with no money but more happiness and kindness than any millionaire. “Africa is dangerous,” I saw no threat in sight. My people welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts. I felt so at home, as if the place I’ve grown all my life was my second home. This new placed I roamed, is where I should be. Where my color does not make me an enemy, but family.
I was given an amazing opportunity to visit Ghana with a bunch of students from Merritt College. This trip was the most amazing experience of my life. It was a complete culture shock! Imagine growing up in a very diverse city like Oakland, California or even in a Eurocentric culture like America; then coming to a place with millions of beautiful melanin people! I’m talking melanin EVERYWHERE from the streets to the money – from the bill boards to the commercials! Imagine growing up in a place where material objects are glorified then visiting a place where nobody cares what type of shoes you are wearing or what brand your shirt is. In Ghana, I was judged by my personality not my appearance.
I stayed on the University of Ghana campus in Accra with other college students who were visiting from various parts of the world. At the University, I took an amazing class with a professor who moved from Berkeley, California to Accra in 2010. She gave me insight on what it is like for an African American woman to move to Africa. “Powerful but tedious,” she said. Powerful because you are surrounded by beautiful black excellence, tedious because you must learn to let go of your Eurocentric habits.
During my time in Ghana I felt at home in a place I had never been before. The Ghanaian people were so nice and full of life. They did not treat me like a regular tourist but more like a long-lost cousin. They were not hesitant to tell me their stories on what growing up in Ghana was like for them – each story was unique and intriguing. I heard tales all the way back to colonization (which I would love to share – just reach out me).
I volunteered some of my time at a local community school – where there were elementary children around the ages 3-10. They were all very intelligent and eager to learn. They asked me many questions about the United States, some I could explain and some I wondered myself. I found it astonishing how these kids with so much responsibility like working every day for their families and taking care of their siblings; with so little resources like we have here in America still found strength to go to school every morning and excel. Another example of how our people persist regardless of the circumstances.
I visited the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, which gave me a full image of the type of leader Nkrumah was and how greatly respected he is throughout Ghana for his fight for Ghana’s independence. I also visited the W.E.B Dubois center which exposed me to Dubois work in Ghana and other countries in the world. It also exposed me to the history between African Americans and Ghanaians. The Makola Market – one of Accra’s largest markets, was very busy despite the rainy weather. I do not believe I ever seen so many vendors in my life! You can find fresh food to new shoes in just two steps. Every seller was completely convinced they had what I needed so moving pass a vendor was not the easiest task, but it still was a very fun experience. Another major site for me was the Cape Coast Castle. This castle was used during slavery as a place to hold enslaved Africans before they were forced to board slave ships that would take them from Africa forever. The tour of the castle was very emotional – just seeing they type of treatment our people were receiving sent me feeling various emotions. It was sad yet powerful knowing that our people overcame something so horrific.
Ghana had a wide selection of everything you could think of – from beautiful beaches, horseback riding, to mischievous monkeys! I attempted to engage in all of them! What is a trip with no adventure? One thing that stood out to me the most during this trip was the Ghanaians’ constant question, “Where are you from?” When I answered the United States, their reply was “No, what part of Africa are you from?” Unfortunately, I was not able answer this question. Like many other African Americans our roots in Africa remain unknown due to the demonic slave trade. When I explained this to an elderly Ghanaian woman she looked at me very sympathetically, embraced me with a hug and replied, “It is okay, you are from Africa my child. You visit many parts and wherever you feel the most at home, that is where you are from. That is home.” With her words in mind and my joy of traveling, I hope to visit as much of Africa as I can. Grasping every opportunity that comes my way to see more and more of the continent I fell in love with last summer.