When you think of Ghana’s culture, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
For me, it’s our colourful Kente cloths, our phenomenal craft work, our first president, Kwame Nkrumah who led the country to independence in March 1957, our over 100 ethnic groups, our unique meals, the strong bonding of families built on the foundation of loyalty and responsibility, the heart warming anthem, the welcoming aunty on the wall in every household, our traditional greetings; (greet an elder with your left hand and you’re history) the famous handshake click; if you know, you know! And how can I forget our gold production! Ghana, the land of gold indeed!
This September, my family and I took a trip to Ghana. My siblings and I had all been twice each but it had still been a while since the last time and this was the first time we had travelled together as a family.
Don’t get me wrong, we love spending time together but travelling wise, it had always been a bit of a myth because it just consists of “Ahhhh mum, maaaaaan” and “I’m actually never doing this again” and:
“DON’T EVEN BREATH IN THE SAME DIRECTION AS ME!”
“Are we friends again?“
Right back to
“Yeah, I’m not speaking to you for the rest of this trip.”
Did I mention that we ended up taking 3 different flights between us?
Kings and Queens of disorganization. Clap for us.
It’s all love though.
We came at such a significant time as I got to witness ‘Founders day’ which is a national public holiday to mark the birthday of the first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and takes place annually on 21st September.
There was also a president election taking place so the atmosphere was pretty intense, as well as massive media coverage.
Not to mention loud debates everywhere you go.
I think this trip really humbled me in the sense that as cliche as it sounds, I am very privileged. I’m so guilty of showing a lack of undivided attention when being lectured about how parents had it hard growing up.
But experience is the best teacher.
When living in Accra, the capital, I loved every minute of it. My dad’s newly built house was in such a convenient area, as it was close to shopping malls, beaches, the airport (very convenient if I ever felt like doing a runner) bar spots, restaurants, nightlife venues, etc.
Another reason why I loved Accra was because everybody seemed to mind their own business and do their own thing. So when I left to go and visit the small town, I felt some type of way because I knew I would have to leave all of that behind and I knew everybody there would be asking 21 questions.
After spending the majority of my time in the small town, as beautiful as the city was, I later on realized that my love for it wasn’t genuine because I only cared for the activities and worldly things I’m already used to. Things that I have right at my doorstep back in the UK.
The main reason we came was to attend a 3 day celebration ceremony of my dad becoming the Chief of this very town called Amwiam located in Sefwi Wiawso in the western region.
I learned so much about myself, my family, and the importance of hard work. I got that wake up call reminding me of how much my parents have sacrificed to get to where they are so that we could have a better life. If not for this commitment, which big house in Accra would I be stunting in please?
The village is the root cause of everything I stand for.
He officially became the chief on 19th September. It was such an exciting and overwhelming experience as I had never attended anything like that before. Every minute something caught me off guard. I’m all for surprises but maybe everybody wanted me to fall down, I don’t know. This was the town he grew up in so all the locals paid massive homage, especially the ones who had watched him grow.
When I first found out I’d look at him like, is that you yeah?!
The same guy who would fall asleep on the sofa and then yell at us for changing the channel.
Wonders shall never end.
I’d be thinking; does this mean what I think it means because the way my bank account is set up ……… WAIT, does this make me a princess?
Mandem, is it me or the lifestyle?
Lol, just kidding.
This stool symbolized what he intended to be (a Chief) where he made it known that he didn’t come to take over, but to continue carrying out the hardwork of previous chiefs. It gave me the chance to learn more about our family history. History that I wasn’t even aware of. The same history I had to do small small research for. (Don’t attack me).
So here’s how it works; the chosen Chief must be related to the current chief whether a cousin, brother, son or nephew. When the current chief passes away, it is the responsibility of the core elders; containing the head of chief, head of the family and the Queen Mother to elect one of these potentials to replace the previous chief. The potentials are then screened where a final decision is made through a meeting with the whole family.
And we have a winner
According to reliable sources, it had already been decided that my dad was going to be chosen long before a discussion even took place.
The same guy who will lecture me about healthy eating and then hand me McDonald’s vouchers within the same week.
Wonders shall surely never cease.
It was so nice to see extended family all doing well and looking good. I noticed that everyone didn’t ask a lot of questions to be nosy and do everything for me to be annoying, but because in that town, everyone looks out for one another and because it’s small, everyone is basically family no matter what. Underprivileged kids would be so full of life, their energy could light up the whole town.
I think it’s important to remember that where we came from is just as important as where we are going. No matter what we encounter in this life, we must never forget the people and the places that have helped shape us along the way.
“People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
As much as my dad has achieved a lot in life, witnessing this reminded me of how focused, intelligent and extremely generous he is, how much people genuinely respect him for who he is and how much he always tries to better the lives of others.
A quote from a book called ‘Daughter, you can make it’ by Dag Heward-Mills (I highly recommend to all women!) has a poem right at the end from a daughter to her father that touched me straight away.
As I was growing up
You always made my world feel safe
The dear calm of your voice calmed me
And the strong circle of your arms circled me.
I never felt vulnerable or afraid
Because to me, you seemed unshakable.
As I got older though,
It dawned on me, that the world you faced everyday
Was a lot bigger and scarier
Than the one you had created for me
And I wondered sometimes,
If you felt like relying on someone else’s strength for a change
Now that I am an adult and living on
The outside of your safety net,
I finally understand what sacrifices
You made to make sure “my world”
Felt alright, all the time
Growing up in the sanctuary of your love
I will always cherish and a memory
I could never forget.
– Dierdra J. Brown