“Finish your dinner, there are kids in Africa starving!”
Growing up, I heard this phrase countless times—consciously noting that no country was ever mentioned, but subconsciously equating the continent with hunger and poverty. In the past few years, I’ve combatted Western generalizations of Africa through my academic work and personal research. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience a piece of Africa first-hand, I’ve witnessed the vibrancy and beauty of a supposed poverty-stricken land.
I do not wish to dismiss the prevalence of poverty in Ghana but redefine it as relative to the Ghanaian context. Ghana’s socioeconomic gap is geographically based, with the more rural Northern region living under conditions that deter socioeconomic mobility. Poverty is measured through one’s access to education, hospitals, paved roads, and a constant food supply, rather than solely income.
In the southern city of Kumasi, there are plenty of people who cannot make ends meet. However, whether or not one can afford it, there will always be food available to buy, hospitals for emergencies, and accessible ways to navigate the city. In rural parts of the northern region, this may not always be plausible. We have been privileged to reside in a Ghanaian city, despite generalizations of all of Africa as poor. In fact, last week, I heard my Ghanaian friend say,
“I’ve overeaten and there are kids in North Korea starving!”
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