I am doing my victory lap at my university, I was bummed out to find that I was going to be spending extra time at school and that I wouldn’t be graduating with my peers. But had I not been here, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. To be completely honest I am overwhelmed. Going to Africa has always been a dream of mine. Living in America there is a certain stigma that is attached to the Motherland. As an African-American the information that I am provided is limited and often one sided, from governmental issues, to the business and monetary aspect of life African life.
I just got back from Belgium, and I am having to do a quick turn around and crash course trying to get acclimated. Nonetheless I can’t wait to make it to Ghana.
I am at a slight disadvantage, seeing that I haven’t had the privilege of engaging in as much classroom discussion as my classmates (I was finishing up my 10 days in Europe). Because of this I look forward to my views, opinions, and preconceived notions becoming more well-rounded and educated over time.
What I’ve Learned Thusfar:
There are some basics about the country that I have picked up along the way. Ghana, a West African country on the coast gained it’s independence in 1957, and was the first African country to do so. So it is a fairly newly independent country which is exciting considering the large amount of growth that has already been experienced there over the last few decades. The flag that now represents the country was created in 1957 when Ghana gained it’s independence, and has been flying high ever since with the exception of a 4 year stint where it wasn’t used in the 1960s. A little over 22 million people inhabit the land of Ghana. In Accra, the capital, alone 83% of the inhabitants reside. Cedi is the official currency of Ghana, and it is a multi-lingual country with English begin the more dominant language.
Between the films that have been watched both in class and as at home assignments and assigned/class readings, and personal research I have been greatly enlightened.
Ghana gained it’s independence in 1957 under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah who then became the first president of the country in 1960. As economic issues arose Nkrumah found himself turing to communist countries for help which threatened the basis of the new found independence of the country. In the last 4 years of his presidency there was a lot of political distress, during this time the Ghanian national flag was not in use, it was reinstated after he was overthrown in ’66. He died in 1972 of cancer.
The constitution that is currently active in Ghana is one that was established in 1992 and was modeled after the US’ governing documents.
At first I was a little disappointed to learn that English was the official language of Ghana. When traveling abroad I always get really excited to learn a new language and have the opportunity to learn it while emerged in the culture. It didn’t even occur to me that there could be a language specific to Ghana so when we began to learn about Asante Twi, I got excited all over again. I definitely look forward to using some of the phrases and words that I picked up. Learning basics like sεn (how much) for making purchases, mepa wo kyεw and meda ase (please and thank you), and even wo ho te sεn? (how are you). It’s good to know that even intertwined with this language there is still a place for english, saying things like good morning or good night. A quick correlation that I made in my mind is sort of like the loose concept of ‘Ebonics’ or ‘Spanglish’. It creates a sense of ease and familiarity.
Slavery has always been something that I directly associated with the African-American experience, not taking too much time to evaluate the effects that slavery had from the other perspective. Those left behind in Africa, those players on that side of the field, and what life is like in Africa now years later. Slavery is almost always viewed from the American perspective. We have celebrations like Juneteenth to reminisce and remember the past and celebrate the future.
There are many assumptions about Africa, and the condition of life there, economically, socially, etc. Simply because the exchange rate is 1 USD to almost 4 Cedi, there is an expectation that goods and services will be less comparatively speaking to that in the US. There are assumptions of lack of education, so I am excited to travel to the university in Ghana and meet, speak, and connect with university students there. Hopefully creating bonds that I can bring back home with me. I also look forward to the ease of Africa. I don’t expect to be rushed at all times. As an African-American respect is something that has been embedded in me since birth. To live in a country where the respect I am taught is amplified in any and all situations, especially those where I am not respected simply because of the color of my skin. To be in Africa and know that respect is everywhere, everyone speaks to and treat eachother with respect. More than anything to walk out into the world on a daily basis for 3 weeks and see people that look like me is the most positive expectation that I have.
As cliché as it might be.. I am trying to void myself of expectations that I may have. Simply because I have found in the past that expectations can be limitations. However, I do expect that most of the negative preconceived notions I have adopted will be dissipated by the truth, and in situations that are less than ideal I hope to gain adequate insight to help properly educate and move forward to make changes.
“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be…”