A touch of Ghana

   Soaking in the humidity, I walked onto a bus going anywhere. I signed up blindly for the experience of a “homestay” in this strange new place, Ghana. The excruciating humidity blanketed my eyelids as we drove hours through a beaten up jungle road. Dust tumbled up and painted children’s faces with a dirt coating while tall lean women balanced enormous jugs, pans, bottles, and sticks on top of their skulls. This was Ghana, a place that never rested. Through the hilly jungles we abruptly took a turn down a hill. Peaking through the trees, the ocean waves called out. The winds picked up and we found a small fishing village hidden between the tumble weed.

   We found our homestay, a beautiful set of houses on the beach. Each house surrounded by children of all sizes waiting for our arrival. Their faces beamed and hands came up to hug or high five us. Happiness and joy surrounded us as we walked out into our first local Ghanian experience. Four women awaited us and embraced everyone. They gave us a tour and then served a steaming hot dinner. We sat around wooden tables with a beautiful view of the beach and talked to our individual “mothers” like a family dinner of eight. My mother was Veronica. She had big brown eyes and a shy smile. She told us she loved her job and meeting people from America. She spoke softly and said, 

“My real dream though is to go to America.” 

   She continued then to plead for one of us to take her to America. I gave her my information and told her to come stay at my house in Boston whenever she was able to. 

   That night we danced under the stars. The locals all came around us in a circle and beat drums and sticks, making a majestic rhythm. Children from the village came to perform and watch. Kids ages 6 to 10 appeared in traditional outfits and crowns. They started to dance with the gleam of the bonfire on the beach. There stomachs twisted and turned as they made aggressive, amazing movements. They pounded their fists in the air and created a story with their strong little bodies. They took our hands and brought us into the circle and tried to teach us the dances. A failed attempt. 

   I stepped back and breathed in the sweet grass in the air, the hint of the burning bonfire, and felt the warm energy of the locals touch as they hugged up around me. I felt whole and one with the world. This was Ghana, an experience to never forget. 

 

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Ghana= 9/10

(Visit in the Winter)

 

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{In Ghana I felt whole and one with the world. I felt part of the community, at peace, and one with my surroundings and the Ghanaian people. The villagers said they always have dance circles and the whole village comes. This gave everyone a sense of being, living, and participating within a community. The love and happiness I felt, surrounded and consumed me.

   Even though these people were below the poverty line, as defined by the world bank in Ghana, they were rich with communal support. Poverty is defined as “Less than $2 a day and Extreme poverty: less than $1 a day” earned. (Global Studies Slides: 20 Ghana, 2) According to the SAS spring 2018 Fact-book, people below the poverty line in Ghana makes up 24.2% of the population. In this Ghanaian village, material wealth did not directly correlate to emotional well being or happiness. The joy and happiness I felt from these villagers was like nothing I had ever felt.

   This Ghanaian village does not have the same technology we have access to and does not consume nearly as much as Americans do. What they do have though, is the African philosophy of, Ubuntu. Meaning, ”humanity”. This is often translated as “I am because we are,” and also “humanity towards others”.  In the philosophical sense it means, “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”. (Wikipedia, Ubuntu Philosophy, pg. 1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy) After this experience, I realized that in America, there was no sense of community or love like this other than in your family unit. Neighborhoods usually do not come together for dance circles or frequent communal gatherings. In my own hometown, a false sense of community is created by social media and Facebook. In my generation, phone screens block people off from real communication and meaningful connection. America is a consumption based country. Even though we have so much, we lack one essential thing, the love and sense of community the Ghanians have. Being completely discontented from technology and being present, coexisting as a unit, they have a real connection to one another. This feeling of oneness, I will never forget. It was truly a critical experience where I learned something invaluable from this small Ghanaian community. An appreciation of humanity towards others makes life much more rich. I hope to live my life caring about others and placing more value on community. I now understand the wealth of this knowledge and will take it home with me to share.}

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