'Things I Miss About Ghana' from Ghanaians in the DiasporaAug 08, 2021 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
(Kaneshie, Accra. Image by Elodie Ouelo via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kaneshie,_Accra,_Ghana.jpg )
In 2016, the International Organization for Migration estimated that there were over 3 million Ghanaians in the diaspora. For many in the diaspora, the concept of home may be multifaceted and include sensations, smells, cuisine, dressing, and customs of a home country, as well as the country of migration. FunTimes voyaged to North Carolina, London, and circled back to Philly to discover what Ghanaians in the diaspora are missing from Ghana. Let’s jump right in!
Kwadjo Appiah is a Ghana-born Ghanaian-American Army veteran who moved to the United States in 2006. In describing his perception of America versus the reality when he arrived, he says: “Most of the time on CNN and other outlets you see skyscrapers, and it is accurate in some parts, but other parts look like places in Ghana. Before I came, people even told me there was free internet in the US. When you interact with varying demographics and different educational backgrounds in the US, you notice that people live so many different types of lives here.”
One thing Kwadjo misses most about Ghanaian culture is the parent-child relationship structure. He says: “I miss the discipline parents are able to give to their kids. In America things are too free, parents cannot advise their kids like in Ghana. In Ghana, even after you are 18 your parents tell you what and what not to do, not to impose their will, but to get a better life. Here, a lot of guys go to jail and a lot of females get pregnant at the wrong times, and the kids of these relationships suffer. They don't have responsible adults.”
“In the US, the children feel they are independent. I came when I was 24, and I am thankful that I had this discipline in me. Timing is everything. Sleeping around before getting married would have gotten me into trouble. I would have a child that I couldn’t take care of and a woman that I couldn't take care of. It’s good to have freedom but too much freedom is to their detriment.”
In describing the importance of a good upbringing, Kwadjo says: “If the foundation is destroyed all the righteousness is too. I want to compare life to a building. If the kids have the right foundation, they will be better.”
Like Samantha, Kwadjo notes natural food as being one of the things he misses about Ghana: “The food we ate was mostly organic, there was no GMO. Obesity was very low in Ghana growing up, but a lot of people have learned about fast food, so people are getting obese not knowing that it’s GMO and MSG. In Ghana, if you wanted dessert you could get mango or coconut in the backyard, instead of soda. If you are going to eat sweets you may eat sugarcane or pineapple. Growing up I thought soda was a big deal because we only had soda on Christmas.”
Andre Etwi is a British-Ghanaian investor who lives in East London who has made visits to Ghana for years. He describes his journeys to Ghana: “There is a sense of belonging when I go to Ghana. I have lived my whole life in the UK. In Ghana you don’t feel Black anymore. You don’t get singled out for the color of your skin, because I look like the people around me.”
In noting the weather and food of Ghana, Andre says: “The weather is nice. Even if it rains you can still manage. You can walk around and are able to get the most random things in traffic. It makes the traffic more bearable. I love the fresh palm wine in Ghana compared to the packaged one we have in the UK. The UK also imports fresh vegetables and fresh food from Ghana, but the quality is reduced, like mangos, and kontomire leaves. Omotuo (rice balls), and groundnut soup is never as good as when you have it in Ghana. It is more of a sentimental thing. It’s the same with Tom Brown, too. When I have it in the UK it's not the same.”
Andre describes a perfect day in Ghana: “In Ghana, most people wake up early. On an ideal day in GH I would wake up early and have breakfast. In the late afternoon I would go to the beach and have a drink by the pool at like 5 pm, so I can get a nice breeze.”
Andre, who describes himself as a local guy, says his favorite place to go to the beach is a spot next to Labadi Beach, where it is quiet. He likes to go to the chop bar in the evening and watch football.
Andre spends most of his time in Ghana in Tema, a suburb outside of Accra, and compares the two cities by saying: “Accra is like New York and Tema is like New Jersey. Tema has its own character. It's a lot quieter.”
Samantha Ofei is a Ghanaian-American based in Philadelphia. What she misses the most about Ghana is ‘the aspect of relaxation’. In describing the relaxed energy of the country, Samantha says: “In Ghana, they don't revolve around work as much as in the US. In the US your life is devoted to working and making money. In Ghana it revolves around living, relaxing, taking in the air, and being around your family.”
Samantha also notes the natural food in the country: “My favorite thing to do is eat because the food tastes so fresh and is so filling. My second favorite thing to do is to explore. Last time I stayed in Accra, and my friends came to Ghana. My favorite club is Purple Pub. There, you will be outside until like 8 am. It reminds me of a block party in Philly.”
In describing the generational relationships between Ghanaians of the African diaspora and the impact of social media, Samantha says: “Ghanaians in the diaspora that migrated to the US are more connected, while the first generations are more connected to US groups. However, because of our parents we get to know more Ghanaian agemates. As we get older it may get harder to know each other after that. Many are from Jersey, NY, and Delaware, but being in Clubhouse I was able to see what else is out there in the Africa diaspora.”
Are you a Ghanaian in the diaspora? What do you miss most about Ghana? Comment below.
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint (www.asieduasimprint.com ).
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