This program flew by really quickly. It seems like we were just getting to the cultural center for the first time on the very first day and yesterday we did our final performance there. As we were leaving I began thinking about how Africa is described on media in the United States in comparison to how it actually was.
On a more serious note, I already knew that Africa was not similar to the way it is generally described (think about the “for less than a dollar a day you can feed a starving child” commercials). Prior to coming, I expected the people to be meaner to me as a Black person with no connection to where I am from specifically. At home people who knew about their African origins (directly or indirectly), do their best to disassociate themselves with Black people. Being Black carries a more negative tone in the United States because people describe us as being lazy and incompetent. This tone is similar in some ways in Ghana because describing Black bodied people negatively is something that has been internalized in both the United States and Ghana. Just like there are Black people who support Trump and think that Black people struggle because they don’t work hard in the United States, there are people in Ghana (who would be treated like a Black person in the United States despite their immediate African connection) who think just as highly of Trump in Ghana (even though Trump called Africa a sh**hole). Aside from this, most of the Jesus pictures in Kumasi are of a white man, which is often the case in North Carolina. The infatuation with light skin and white women was also surprisingly similar, and while I know this isn’t a good thing it was nice to experience some of what I assume the white experience is in the United States. If I was walking with the group, it was likely that the Ghanaian men would overlook me to fawn over the white people in our group. Ghanaians would go up to touch their hair and ask odd questions (the kinds of questions that are unintentionally offensive to the people who know the answer like “is all of this your hair”), the same way white people do to me in the US. While Ghanaians are much more likely to casually be in your personal space, it’s usually not associated with the same ideas it would be at home.
Overall, Africa is a continent of wealth but the people here aren’t able to fully tap into that wealth the way they should be able to. For a further explanation, visit this site. Africa can best be described as a wealthy yet poor continent and you can read more about this here. Africa has slums but so does every other continent, which is why portraying the whole continent this way is so wrong (yet beneficial to the people who benefit from this portrayal).
In terms of my trip more generally, our time in Ghana has come to an end and it’s really shocking how short 7 weeks ended up being. I am thankful for this experience and I honestly wouldn’t mind coming back again to visit.