Natural Hair and Other Kinky Stuff

Another Perspective

In honor of Ghana’s Independence day, I am sharing the experiences I had there in 2009. My life was forever changed by this country of hope, turmoil, and love.

I have immersed myself in the Ghanaian culture. And my doing so, I have noticed that there is a huge gap between the older and younger generations.  Western influence and urban hip hop culture is moving  youth away from their traditional roots. The children still honor their parents for the most part. However, many are challenging the cultural norms regarding attire, sex, and social behavior.

Poverty is also a prime a reason children are steering away from traditions. Many young children are losing their parents to disease and illness and they are left to care for themselves. There is also an influx of people leaving rural areas and villages to find work in the capital, Accra.
I spoke to a male Ghanaian student and he said ” your people never come here.” I explained to him several potential  reasons why black students may not come to Ghana as much as white people. I pointed out how costly the trip is. I explained that contrary to popular opinion, not all American’s are rich. Many students like me depend on scholarships, grants, and jobs as the only way to fund their education or a study abroad trip. And as much as I hate to admit this, there are more black families living in poverty than in other race of people in the United States.

Now, there are several reasons why however, I will not elaborate on that topic here because it would make this post entirely too long. Feel free to share your thoughts on that in the comment section because it is a hot topic.

Secondly, some people (including blacks) have a bias and ignorant view of Africa. unfortunately, the media usually portrays naked people and barbaric images of Africa. I have yet to see this in Ghana. That brings up another point. Africa is often thought of as one single country/place instead, of a continent made up of several distinct countries. The stereotypes associated with Africa create a negative influence on some people thus, lessening their desire to visit.

For example, when I told people I was planning to visit Ghana, many of them exclaimed “WHY”? in a tone that suggested the idea was simply crazy. “It is hot as hell,” some said. Yet, it is the best weather I have ever experienced. I am dreading the smothering heat of Texas. Others asked these sad yet, typical questions…“will you be sleeping in hut, is there running water, what will you eat, will elephants be in your back yard?”

I too, may have asked questions similar questions  (ugh NO, my mom made sure I had a healthy global view early in life) had I not read about Ghana and studied Africa. Many do not, so they simply believe every image they see and ignorantly believe that those images are a valid representation of Africa. Others said they would have opted for a trip to an island to relax at a resort.

And while I like that idea, I came to Ghana for a different purpose. I came to learn, explore, study, and appreciate. I am very relaxed and happy. The people here have this sense of peace that I envy. Respect is evident and a valued aspect of their culture.

I don’t aim to preach, but I hope to teach people about parts of the world that they may not know anything about. Maybe I can educate through conversation and shed some light on the mystery of Africa. I am no expert and I have still have a lot to learn. However, I am enlightened.


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