Life Beyond the Vacation

There is a lot to say and do but for some reason I am quiet and calm. I booked my flights yesterday and it gave me some calm after it was all done. It’s scary to be making such a big move. It didn’t occur to me until Nana Nyarko said it that I was really doing something brave. Yes, it was home but it was out of my comfort zone. A place I hadn’t lived in for 16 years. I am taking a big leap of faith dragging myself off to another continent and especially to a country where sexism and homophobia have lunch together every day. A place where any sense of progressiveness is sometimes seen as an adoption of Western ideals and a booting of the traditional homegrown ones. Homophobia and sexism are preached in the pulpit on Sundays at most churches, discussed and prayed about at Bible Study on weekdays, and argued about over Star beer in the local chop bars where men retreat to instead of going home to their toiling wives.

Over the last two months I’ve been privy to conversations with several people, some of which have scared me. People in charge talk like this? These are the voices in the mainstream? What will happen to the world if we don’t stand up and counter some of these conversations and yelling matches? What happens if those of us with alternative voices chose to remain quiet? I’ve been more shocked at my own friends’ reactions to their “lot in life” to use the phrase rather facetiously. Most of the women I encountered knew their worth but some were willing to let society dictate to them how much they should be worth. Some were willing to be physically groped in public places because it was easier than causing a scene and drawing attention to the man doing it. Some had never been told their worth and so didn’t know to expect any better. On an average a woman is guaranteed to be forcefully grabbed by a strange man at least once a day if she leaves her house and more if she uses public transit. This is not OK! The term, “Personal Space” and “Boundaries” mean absolutely nothing to most men, married or not. The common retort I’ve gotten is that women were created for men’s pleasure so any woman who doesn’t acquiesce to such harassment hates men, this then ushers in the topic of homophobia and when this comes in, people literally lose their minds.

But I think I am beginning at a good place. The school I’m headed to is an international one, and there is only a handful of its kind in Ghana. As such, it is a cocoon of sorts, and this characteristic both thrills and disturbs me a bit. It would be a microcosm of Berkeley to an extent but there will be more people who look like me than not providing a comfort I have not been privileged to have before. I have been assured of care and support for this journey, but it’s my conscience that nags about service to the poor and how this fits in. The school is one of the more expensive schools in Ghana and even though they serve orphans as well, the concept still remains that it is an exclusive school of 320 students more than half of whom can afford to be there. I have heard only positive things from everyone I’ve spoken to. I know now after traipsing through five institutions that no institution is perfect. Some are better than others but they are all people-made and so have flaws. Once I learned this, and also that institutions don’t always work for people, especially my people, I had a whole new understanding and appreciation for them and my relationship with them. I hope this will be one of the better ones. This hope is what tempers the nervousness and anxiety that seizes hold of me at all hours. What the heck am I doing? When I can’t answer this question, I try to pack. When fitting 16 years of life in America into 2 50-lb suitcases fails, I go shopping. After all, I am going to have to replace those shoes I gave to Aunty Ama. J

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7 comments

  1. You gave me chills with “sexism and homophobia have lunch together every day.” Luck, courage, and safety to you! At any rate you will be a much-needed role model for the students at the school, and whatever their lot in life, that is always a good thing.

  2. Sister Kuukua, I wish you peace, patience and perseverance on this journey of yours. Ghana is not for the weak-hearted kraaaa. I went through my own struggles living there, and some days were easier than others. I’d say that eventually one finds their niche/comfort zone and is hopefully surrounded my like-minded and supportive people. Although, one still wonders from time to time if they are compromising their true values. Does settling in Ghana mean settling, period? (i.e. do we resign to conform for fear of persecution, alienation or even insanity?) I’ll be honest, those were questions I was never quite able to answer for myself, hence why I did not stay. I plan to be back though. Stronger and sharper. And when I am, I know I will have warrior womyn like yourself as examples of truth and courage.

    You will be great. You will be resilient. And you will rock.

    In solidarity,
    Rita Nketiah
    Fellow Fab Fem 🙂

    • Rita,
      Thank you for reading and commenting right away. I must say, I was truly saddened when I read that you are no longer here.
      I’m on Day 9 and I think maybe only one of the days so far has been happy go-lucky where I haven’t totally freaked out and wondered WTF I packed up and moved my shit. I can most certainly appreciate all those questions of living an authentic life (or a sane one). Is this possible in Ghana? I have been wondering if the phrase “when in Rome…” should be my party line to escape persecution. Shall I invent a husband and three children who will be joining me soon? 🙂 Stay in touch!

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