There has been a lot of talk on Africa on the blog lately about the African identity, African not just meaning “black”, but the term African being a mindset more than a colour. I mentioned in a comment on Nigel Mugamu’s “We are all African” post that I would be embarking on a journey to Ghana to rediscover my roots. Up till now, I have referred to myself as a child of Africa, or a child of the soil because when I get asked, “Where are you from?”, I find it very difficult to give a straight answer.
You see, my story is quite unusual, though it may not be unique, there are plenty of other people out there who may find themselves in somewhat the same predicament as I am. I was born and raised in Botswana, to Ghanaian parents and I am married to a Zimbabwean. Let alone what my kids are going to feel in relation to their true cultural identity, having being raised in a sandwich of two diverse AFRICAN cultures was enough to have me question who I really am.
My parents often took us back to Ghana every couple of years when we were kids, but after daddy’s death 20 years ago, things were tougher with the family down to a single income and trips were few and far between. And so it has been over 16 years since my last visit to Ghana. Perhaps all that time away created a shift in my identity as I am pretty sure when I was asked as a kid, “Where are you from?” my answer would have been a straight, “From Ghana!”
So after multiple travel jabs including Yellow fever, Hepatitus A and B, malaria tablets amongst others, here I am, an adult, on a month long adventure to the land of my heritage. What has made this possible is the fact that my mom decided to move back to Ghana after over 3 decades of living in Botswana. It has not been an easy ride, and it was a very brave move to go back after so many years. I wonder if I would still have come to Ghana if mom had not moved back? Perhaps I would have anyway, but the opportunity to travel back often would prove difficult without a home base here. So thanks Mom, for making life a little bit more interesting.
I am terribly excited about this trip, and am sold to just throwing myself into whatever I can to connect and re-connect with Ghana and may Ghanaian family. I have plans to meet as many relatives as possible and even start to build my family tree before it gets too late. In fact, I already feel the urgency of this matter because I lost my grandmother just a few months ago, and with her, a great deal of history. I will also do my best to pick up as much language as I can, though realistically a 4 week holiday is not enough to learn a language. Perhaps on my return to the UK I will be able to find Ghanaian language courses. I know Twi is very popular and is offered at the School of African and Oriental Studies, SOAS, but if anyone knows of any other Ghanaian language lessons, such as Ga, please let me know. In my next few posts, I will blog about my Ghanaian experiences, where I go, who I meet, what I eat.
For any infrastructure or development project junkies, refer to my blog at afriquanwoman.wordpress.com for my Ghanaian experience from an engineers perpective.