Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"They call it Africa. We call it home."

Ultimately, Africa is the homeland of all humanity. But, some parts of the African diaspora are more closely related in time to the continent than others. The Black Diaspora as it is called here that resulted mainly from the various slave trades to the Americas and elsewhere certainly has a stronger imagined connection to Africa than the rest of humanity. I have noticed, however, that a lot of African-Americans coming here are greatly disappointed by what they find in Ghana. I am somewhat puzzled at this. I had no expectations of what to find here, but I was greatly impressed with what I did find. For me Africa was a continent I knew little about before arriving here. Most of what passes for knowledge about Africa in the US consists of generalized negative stereotypes from the worst events in the entire continent's history over the last several decades. So I just ignored the images on my television set and came to Africa anyways trusting that God sent me here for a reason. But, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a situation in which I would have set unrealistically high standards for Ghana and then been sorely disappointed by the reality here. If anything Ghanaians sell themselves short on their accomplishments and the best thing that one hears about the country in the US is that unlike Somalia or Zimbabwe that it never appears in the news. The assumption being that no news is good news. However, the reality is that Ghana has an awful lot good going for it. Maybe somebody can cue me into why so many African-Americans that come here become so quickly disillusioned with Ghana and Ghanaians? Did they really expect that after several hundred years they would be welcomed back as Africans rather than be viewed as Americans? Do they in turn welcome African immigrants and visitors to the US as long last brothers and sisters? If not why should they expect Ghanaians to welcome them as brothers and sisters when they arrive in Africa? Maybe I have been living abroad so long that I no longer understand Americans, but even though Ghanaian culture is very different than US culture I have never encountered what I would call xenophobia here. On the other hand I do understand why Ghanaians use the term Obruni to describe Black Americans as well as White Americans.

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