I’ve been on the lookout for an oversize artwork for my dining room for years. I finally gave up on my search and decided to create my own.
I bought this canvas over ten years ago, it hung in my family room for years but I got tired of the dated artwork. Since it was the perfect size for the dining room, I got to work repurposing the canvas.
I painted over the old artwork. Then let myself go to town. I wanted a kaleidoscope of colors because I like colorful artwork and I knew it would cover up imperfections (it sure did).
I love how it turned out.
This little boss graduated from preschool today. Can you tell he’s the last born? The effortless grin and my-mom-doesn’t-dress-me-for-your-opinion attire? Last born children got it made. They arrive just when moms have given up doing it all and mommy patience is at an all time high (because the worry thingy and mommy guilt are all out the window).
As he crossed the stage to get his diploma today, I didn’t fret about the fact he’s not reading before entering kindergarten (I taught both Bri and Alex to read well before the age of 5.) Instead, I thought about his amazing spirit. He’s completely comfortable in his skin, knows his likes and dislikes, and it’s hard for anyone to ruffle his feathers. In his world, there’s always an adventure and a story to be told and a laugh to be had. And for that I know he has an amazing future ahead and the world will be his oyster.
The best souvenir I brought home from my trip to Ghana was a reset button.
I’ve been on this ridiculous diet of work, eat, sleep, then repeat for over a decade now. Taking two weeks away from the standard American rat race has rejuvenated my spirit in every aspect of my life. I’ve drawn a line in the sand: life before Ghana and life after.
My before: working late nights honing my craft, going ridiculously above and beyond for work at the expense of my family time and health, climbing the career ladder, being sucked into the comfort of a six figure salary.
My after: slowing down, valuing my worth and not constantly proving it with late work hours, valuing time with my family above all else, running full speed towards the direction of my life goals, and placing less value on the so-called American dream…
There’s also the Ghanaian dream, the Paris dream, the Nepal dream…so many other dreams other than the one we are being force fed in the states.
Yesterday, I visited Kwame Nkrumah’s mausoleum and museum. At the entrance, two Ghanaians collected the entrance fee. Apparently, Ghanaians pay 2 cedis to enter and all foreigners pay 5 cedis. Of course I thought I was entitled to pay 2 cedis. One of the fee collectors asked me if I was Ghanaian. I told her I was Ghanaian. She raised her eyebrow and said she was having trouble believing that I was Ghanaian. I told her I was born in Ghana and just lived abroad for awhile. With a bit of annoyance, I asked her if that qualifies as still being a Ghanaian. She reluctantly nodded. Sarcastically, I told her I appreciated the warm welcome home. I was very bothered by this incident because it was the final straw after days of my Ghanaian heritage being questioned.
Before this incident, my Ghanaianism had been questioned by hotel staff, street vendors, cab drivers and anyone who heard me speak. The fact I spoke with an American accent gave them the license to either charge me a higher price for goods and services or to speak about me in the native language as if I didn’t understand (I understand every word – just can’t speak it well).
While I feel like Ghana is home and I am enjoying every minute of this trip, I am bit annoyed about the blanket label that you are only Ghanaian if you have a Ghanaian accent and look Ghanaian.
We need to move past this yardstick of what makes one Ghanaian enough.
Today my mom and I rented a car and a driver to travel to Kumasi to visit my Dad. My father was born and raised in Kumasi. I lived there from age 3 to 5. Kumasi is further north of Elmina which is by the coast of Ghana. It’s about four hours by car. The vegetation and mountains on the road to Kumasi is absolutely breathtaking. I wanted to stop and take pictures of the landscape but the driver seemed anxious and he told us there has been some robbery near some of the villages. That was enough to keep me in the car.
My dad’s home in Kumasi is the home my mom and him designed together over 30 years ago. They had planned to retire there. Since they got divorced when I was in college this did not come to pass. However, they remained very close friends throughout the years.
My dad was tickled to see my mom, probably happier to see her than me. He showed us the plantain garden my mom planted over 30 years ago. It’s now fully grown and thriving. My mom walked me through the house sharing her ideas for the floor plan. It was a bit sad that they were not retirees living at the home together.
My dad took me to the area my brother and I once got lost at when I was 3 years old. Apparently, our driver didn’t pick us up from school as planned and we jumped on the bus then got off the wrong stop. I walked to the police station nearby and told the police exactly where I lived and what my father did for work. They were able to figure it out and take us home. My dad laughed as he told the story of how the police was shocked how well I spoke at age 3 and knew exactly how to get home. My older brother was crying the whole time and I took charge the policeman recounted. My dad was so happy as he told the story. He told me that at that moment he knew I was going to take the world by the storm. He called me his tough little girl. It was very endearing.
When I was planning my trip to Ghana, I was dreading the obligatory visit to see family members, I was rearing to go to Accra to see the nightlife and how young Africa was thriving. But I am now finding that visiting my childhood play ground and home has been simply moving.
I travelled to Sekondi-Takoradi today to my great-grandmother Janet’s midwifery center and home. The midwifery center is connected to the home. It was a place where my great-grandmother delivered hundreds of babies. She was an amazing woman: a public nurse for the Ghanaian government for over 20 years, then retired at 40 years old to open her own midwifery. She delivered me and my two brothers.
I remember playing in the halls of the center, hearing women scream giving birth and being shooed away by nurses. The hallways were exciting to me, waiting for the moment when a newborn cried out loudly for the first time.
My mom showed me where I used to play in the driveway. The place matched my memories perfectly considering that I last saw the place when I was just five years old.
We happened upon a neighbor who has lived near the midwifery for over 60 years. She still lived there and remembered me as a child playing outside with my brothers. My mom said she used to take me to the market for a piece of candy. My great-grandmother delivered all of her children, too.
After touring my playground and home as a youth, we went to see my grand-aunt Mary. She has a home behind the midwifery and Accra. Aunt Mary was shocked to see me, the last time I saw her she was visiting us in America. She jumped for joy and showed me the room my mother was conceived and born. It was weird to see the room (ugh, grandma having sex) but she was full of laughs when she showed me the room. She wanted to give me cash (she has tons of money) but I told her I’d rather have a piece of her as a memory. So she marched me to her bedroom and pulled out a kente cloth that belonged to her mom, my great grandmother (which is my grandfather’s mother).
She was so happy to see us. She wouldn’t stop hugging me.
It was a good day in Sekondi-Takoradi.
I finally landed in Ghana. My aunt had a family friend who worked at the airport to greet me as soon as I walked off the plane. That was an immensely helpful as he walked me right up to the diplomats counter and whisked me out of customs in a matter of seconds. I looked over at the regular line with a bit of guilt as the line wrapped around the entire room.
I spent the first night at my aunt’s home in Accra. She welcomed me with a spicy meal, tea, and hours of laughter into the wee hours.
I went to sleep with beautiful breeze coming through the window and woke up to roosters. While I laid in bed listening to the roosters and watching the sun stream through the window, I recalled a memory of me laying in the bed as a child watching the sun and listening to the roosters. It stirred something deep inside of me. It felt like my soul moved. It shifted. At that moment I felt a sense of peace I have never felt in my entire life.
I told my Aunt about the feeling, she smiled and with a twinkle in her eye she told me we all experience that sense of peace when we come home.
I am finally here, and it feels like home.
My trip is off to an interesting start. In my quest to find a quiet spot at the airport to gather my thoughts I found good ‘ole Mitt Romney.
I am not sure if this is a good omen or not….now if it was the tall black guy with big ears…we might be on to something.
Mitt looked good though…I checked out his ass when he got up to find another quiet spot. He got spotted shortly after we took this picture.
Home to Ghana that is. I haven’t been there since I was 5…we migrated to Sierra Leone when I was 5, then subsequently immigrated to the US when I was just shy of my 8th birthday. I am going to be there for two weeks beginning Friday, May 10th. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I am excited to see my homeland and fuse the fragmented memories I have of being a child running on dirt roads, watching heavy rain pour from a metal framed veranda, and buying food at the market while holding my mother’s hand.
I look forward to touching the ground and knowing this is home, the piece of earth where my ancestors walked, the place where I descended from.
I am nervous because I am afraid I have fantasized about my love for the country and maybe when I step foot on the land I will be disappointed somehow. I am afraid it won’t feel like home and I will be an interloper in my own homeland.
I want that ah-ha moment…’home at last.’
I am not sure how it will all turn out but I am getting on that plane. I am going home.