I was equally excited and nervous to travel back to Ghana after 17 years! I have fear of flights so very ashamed to say that it was my first time back on the plane after my first flight from Kotoka airport to Heathrow 17 years ago. To be honest if it wasn’t for my Aunt’s funeral, I don’t know what would have forced me to get back on the plane.
First time back on the plane, and I was alone. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life. I did not know what to expect. I didn’t even know the procedures, but fortunately I partnered with a lovely woman travelling back to Ghana who helped me through it all. I was clueless! She looked out for me till we reached Accra (Ghana). Thank you!
Stepping out of the airport to the streets of Accra, funny enough I didn’t have that instant feeling that I have arrived in Accra. It all felt so familiar, like I never left. It didn’t feel like I have traveled many miles from one continent to another.
Till the next morning… a wake-up call by a crowing rooster around 5 am will definitely do it. Walking on the sand and quickly changing from my sliders to my chale wate to comfortably keep up with my cousin.
Driving through Accra on my way back to the airport to catch a flight to Kumasi where I stayed for the rest of my time in Ghana, I was quickly humbled by the hard working people of Ghana. It was so busy as if it was the afternoon, but it was only 6.30 am. Many people are selling and business had begun at an hour that I would usually be waking up and moaning back in the UK. I witnessed people carrying a load on their head, pacing between vehicles in order to sell and make a living. Again this is happening at 6.30 am!
I was culturally in shock, I thought I was returning home, but I felt like a ‘visitor’ in my own country. The heat and chaos so early in the morning really took me by surprise. I left it way too long to return back to Ghana.
There are food everywhere you go. One of the things I discovered was that many buy cooked food from local food stalls and chop bars more than I saw people cooking and preparing their own meals. It could be a coincidence but that’s what I observed. Ghana food of course tastes amazing! I couldn’t leave without eating ‘dei huo’ (maize flour and greens with tomato stew) in a tiny ‘chop bar’. After walking hours in the heat, it felt so good to be sitting on a bench in a small chop bar along with my uninvited tiny pests of flies. There are thousands and thousands of flies. I felt like a magnet for flies, it’s like they knew fresh body have just arrived. To the locals, the flies were hidden in plain sight. While everyone around me took no notice of the flies and sat still eating, I kept speed hitting myself with one hand and eating with the other.
Oh and if you are a fun of hausa kooko (porridge made from millet flour and spices) like I am, it is so delicious and the taste was so authentic that it made the kooko I usually have back in the UK taste like piss.
When it rains it pours and for a long time. The type of rain that I witnessed will make it on the news in the UK. It can be very sunny and suddenly, it pours aggressively. There is so much beauty in the land of Ghana. It has a vibrant energy and peaceful community. I mean, how many times do you see a flock of sheep casually going to their destination alone, then taking a break and finding shelter when it’s raining.
Arriving in Kumasi, I was hoping that the city would have changed for the better. Unfortunately, not much has changed since I moved to the UK nearly 20 years ago. Although there are many things to be proud, there are also many things that I was sad about. The town seemed neglected and forgotten about. People are struggling as they were when I was living there. The divide between the rich and the poor is just incredibly sad. I don’t know whether to point fingers at the government or at people like myself, who have moved and never looked back. Never, tried to go back and give back to a place I once called ‘home’. I questioned myself repeatedly. I can’t even moan, because what have I done to contribute to the place I call ‘home’? I genuinely felt guilty. People are working so incredibly hard, so why so much monetary poverty? I know I can’t help everybody, but if I helped even one person that is something.
Adults asking to keep a slipper I picked up from pound shop, and demonstrating so much gratitude for it. I was so humbled and thankful to God for every single thing I have. It reminded me to be grateful.
Although Ghana as a country have come far, there really is so much work to be done. I am not exaggerating. I have made a promise to myself to get involved and help in any way that I can. Not sure yet what to do or even how to go about it, but it has awaken the charity within. I am so determined to give back here in the UK as well as Ghana.
Having said that, their spirits are incredibly inspirational. They are not walking in sadness but with smiles on their faces. If there is something I took from this trip is to always keep my head up even when I’m down. There are inspirational quotes at every turn.
Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true. This is my view from my short visit to Ghana.
So Ghana, until I return again, this time will not leave it as long as I did and I will love to travel to all the different parts of Ghana.
to be continued…