Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Ghana. On my first trip to Africa, I learned a lot about Africa, perceptions of the US and myself. It was a really good trip and I am grateful for the opportunity to experience African culture . . .to see my ancestral homeland. My reflections:
- African American traditions of respecting elders. . .typically, if a person is older than you, they are never called by their first name. Instead you are to call them, Auntie or Uncle. The word cousin doesn’t exist in the the Ghanaian language, so to everyone here, my cousin is my Auntie.
- There are so many extended families. Usually, several generations live under one roof. I remember growing up in Memphis, we had “brothers and sisters” but they were distant cousins or not related at all. Big families are celebrated. I absolutely LOVE the family atmosphere of Ghana.
- Everyone has a nickname in addition to their given name. Few people are called by their birth name.
- The flavors of southern Black cuisine are here. The soups and stews remind me so much of my moms cooking.
Ghanians are the most hospitable people I have ever met. They eagerly welcome foreigners and are extremely friendly and helpful. If you want a taste of Africa with out fear of being robbed or mistreated, Ghana is a great starter.
Ghanaians are business minded. Everyone wants to own a business. They sell in the streets or on the side of the roads. “Hustle” is the middle name of most Ghanians.
I love the confidence of African men and women. Early in their lives, boys and girls are taught their worth and beauty. Parents tell their children things like, “you are a great man” or “you are so beautiful.” Self esteem issues are not rampant. Most Ghanaians think very highly of themselves. They are proud of their bodies and clothes, jewelry and makeup show this.
I am puzzled and bothered by the hybrid Christianity here. Yes, I have often taught in my history classes that Christianity or Islam mixed with the local indigenous religions of Africa, but I did not have an experience with it. After listening to the radio, I now understand it, but am sad that the message of Jesus is distorted. There are posters and signs everywhere with smiling preachers on them. Street corners can have more than 5 signs advertising churches. Preachers heavily promote prophecy and a prosperity gospel. However, many still believe power of curses to kill off members of the family for evil actions.
The poorest of Americans are wealthy compared to Ghanians. The minimum wage is a daily rate, not hourly. It is the equivalent of about $5.00. A couple of the villages that I visited were really poor–an entire family living in one room. I’m left with a sense of confusion and emptiness. . .I want to help, but don’t know how.
This trip was a fantastic adventure. I am eternally grateful for my family that cared for me and gave me the chance to experience Africa.
I kept of vlog of my journeys, click here for the playlist.