As the car swayed back and forth on the burnt orange potholes in Tikrom, the excitement in my heart built. I was sandwiched in between my three cousins in the back of my uncle Kofi’s silver Toyota with the windows open to let a warm breeze in. We were on our way to my grandmother’s house, which is the base for my extended family. I have been patiently waiting for this moment for almost a year when I was last in this country. I can barely put into words how much my grandmother Maame and extended family truly mean to me. My grandmother grew up as a cocoa farmer in Kumasi with an aspiration for her five kids to all succeed. My dad took it upon himself to fulfill her dream through education and got a job in the U.S. My grandmother played a pivotal role in my development as she lived in our family home in New Jersey for sixteen years before going back to her home country of Ghana to be with her other children. To say she is my best friend is putting it lightly because she is my every thing and more. My cousins, aunts, and uncles all shower me with love and push me to best version of myself. Being around people such as these remind me why family is so important.
When we finally reached the green gate of my grandmother’s house we all ran through the door. The biggest smile appeared on her face as she was dressed in her favorite Ntoma. I ran to give her the biggest hug and tried to savor onto the moment forever. The house was full of warmth, many family members, and the most delicious jollof. For the next four hours, we shared stories and embraces that were long overdue. I brought a suitcase of gifts for my family because many of the items they could not find here in Ghana. They were all overjoyed and to be quite honest the gift of giving made my heart warm as they do not have the same opportunities as I have back home.
Family is very important in the Ashanti culture. Differing from the U.S there is a large emphasis on extended family, which is why my grandmother’s house is the hub for many of my cousins and aunties. In Ghana, my family follows a matrilineal descent starting with my grandmother and great aunties. In our culture, we believe that everyone has a place in the family even if you are not directly close or even related. People in the neighborhood also came to say hi whom I have met before and refer to as Aunt or Uncle. Having all these amazing people around me make me know I am so lucky and blessed to have this familial community. Family is one of the biggest reasons I came to Ghana therefore, I am forever grateful.
For more reference on family/kinship in Ghana see below: