From a young age, even though I was born in London, and didn’t actually see Ghanaian soil until the age of 10 (and didn’t come back again until 9 years later), I have been a Ghanaian. My parents instilled the values and the culture since I was born.
On a Sunday afternoon when my friends were having Sunday lunch in the pub, I was having a home cooked lunch at home. The food I ate was mainly Ghanaian, although we’d have a roast on Sundays (although there was pepper on the side and jollof rice in addition). I didn’t have fish and chips or mcdonalds (although for a treat we had home made chicken and chips).
The only time really I had mcdonalds was when mum bought us a burger and chips after she finished work on a Saturday afternoon. Or, when we were out visiting family friends and we were not given anything to eat, or the food was barely edible (the myth that all Ghanaian women can cook is not true).
The only difference between my household and one here is that my dad had no problem going to the kitchen. In fact he is very passionate, and he has this signature dish which is a vegetable and fish stew which you can eat with anything. We have all tried to emulate his recipe but nobody has managed to get it right. He uses different vegetables, different spices, depending on what he has but still it comes out the same way. But I digress.
I had an ideal thus, that when I came to Ghana, mother GH would welcome me with open arms. However, I am seen as an outsider. On first impression, they think I am a francophone, or Nigerian, for some it doesn’t occur to their tiny little minds that I am a Ghanaian, the bolder person will ask where I’m from, the more ignorant will ask or should I say state “you’re not a Ghanaian are you?”. I just have to thank God that I have friends and family that know who I am and love me to not take it to heart (although it gets to me sometimes).
When I was at the regional office, it wasn’t too bad, I would blend in, and to be honest the pressure is so bad for anyone to care where your from but rather can you do the job. Now I have been moved to the country office, it feels like I have been pushed back 10 years. The people there have too much time on their hand, and they don’t look at the office as the multinational giant that it is but a small village. If you wonder why Ghana with all it’s potential still stays in the same spot. Look to the multinationals. You have too many small minded individuals who use their time frustrate those that want to make the nation great because they only want to line their individual pockets.
In the past I used to wonder why people used to brag about the fact that they are dual nationals but now I embrace it. I don’t want to sound bad but let’s face facts, with the majority of these people the furthest they have been to “abroad” is Labadi beach. If they have travelled, it’s been on the company ticket so its been the hotel and the office. So to say that they are travelled, well the jury is still out.
I was in a lebanese restaurant with some colleagues the other night and educating a young man about hummus (apologies about the spelling), my lebanese boss was quite surprised that I know (have to add, the foreigners see me as just another Ghanaian), and that’s when the realization came. Yes I am a Ghanaian, but I have tried to blend too much into a country which although is part of me is alien to me. It made me understand the people that make it known that they have another passport as well as the little black one. I am not just another Ghanaian and I will never be one, and with that I am proud of what I have. I have gone through experiences, met people, travelled to places (with my own money) that some could only dream of. So if they don’t think I am one of them, so what, screw them. At the end of the day, I can’t change my past and I wouldn’t want to. I make my future. So while they try and wrap their tiny minds around what they think I am. I will continue to shout out that I am different, and I know that eventually some one will see the value of that. In my career and in my life.
Lesson of the day: don’t loose yourself in what people expect you to be. No one can do you as well as you. My prayer is that more people like me will come back to build this country into what it should be.