5 Hours Ahead, But Years Behind…

Shame on the American education system for the grossly inaccurate depiction of Africa that they continually shove down the throats of vulnerable children seeking knowledge to become well-rounded individuals that have a chance in society. They never gave Africa a chance.

We landed in Africa, and I was taken aback with both shock and anticipation. This was nothing like I had imagined it. Granted we landed in Accra which is the capital of Ghana and has been curated to fit the expectations that tourists may have of what Africa is and should be. You can find everything there.. from a modern mall (Accra Mall) to markets where stores are separated by entities that are no thicker than sheets and spaces where dirt floors are common.

But, you must realize.. America views itself as a superior nation to those around the world and as a result the images and ideas that people have about the Motherland are extreme and probably way off the mark to say the least. We are taught that Africa is uncivilized, an impoverished land, that is both underdeveloped and disease stricken. These are images that strongly stand because of the influence that media has on the American psyche and the large informational gap that is never field.

I know that one of the main things that will allow this experience to be one that I will never forget is to relate everything that I see in Africa with my experience as an African-American in the states. I’m not sure how easy this will be, but also no matter how difficult it may seem to be it will be worth it if it optimizes my experience.

In class we watched a video that discussed Africa’s progress since their independence in 1957, and the rapid pace that Ghana is developing to become more modern and to match the developmental standards that nations like the United States have set. Interestingly enough I have a gut feeling that most of what I am going to learn first hand through experience is going to contradict most of what I learned in classrooms and discussions with those that are not as interested in the truth as they are exploitation and imposing an attitude of inferiority upon others.

The capitalistic attitude that the majority of Americans have is one that has been infiltrated in their minds through the explicit use of media and advertisement. The image that America has painted of Africans and African-Americans alike has crippled the growth and development of the entire diaspora. Many times we are taught about the Double V (victory at home, and victory abroad), but we don’t talk as much about the mental oppression both abroad and at home. Nor do we discuss the ways that this oppression affects the livelihood of an entire race of people. Not to mention the depiction that the world has and is forced to use to rationalize things that they may never have the opportunity to refute through experience with a living and breathing human being that would be able to debunk all of the false depictions and ideologies.

I can’t allow America’s capitalistic attitude to seep through my mentality when I look at the people and situations that I will encounter here over the next 3 weeks. America has it’s hand in everything, and maybe it’s hand on Africa is not the guide that this continent needs. Financial institutions like world banks come in and manipulate the system causing African nations to fall into a revolving hole of debt. Some of these practices are preserved through their transformation, it’s almost like a reincarnation of policies that keep the African nations tied up and held down.

Great African-American leaders found themselves walking these African lands, and I wonder why. How does their arrival parallel with my own? I honestly can’t answer that now because I have only been here but a few short hours. I do know however that it is my goal to help one of these business or places that we visit to grow and become more stable in not the labor of their work but in the potential to expand and how that transition can be a successful and less-stressful one.

White supremacy is a conscious effort to elevate the white community, particularly white men, to a place of complete control socially, economically, culturally, and the like. So, it makes perfect sense that the identity of blacks is constantly paralleled with images of ignorant, impoverished, stagnant, lazy, uncivilized individuals in an effort to justify the idea that ‘white is right’ and that people who do not look like what has been coined as superior couldn’t possibly possess any of those positive qualities.

The key is to be awake, to not be afraid to ask questions.. matter of fact question everything. Any opportunity I get I am going to be asking questions so that I can fill in the gaps of information that the American educational system so eloquently left wide open hoping that a black girl like myself may fall through the cracks. Who am I to say what is civilized/uncivilized, developed/undeveloped, right/wrong. Africa is strong and rich with resource and history and it has been that way for a reason. I am excited to learn and to combat these wrongs with truth and fact.

~Kristen Phantazia

“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…”


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