A Piece of Ghana

Maureen Mawusi Afua AllandiMarch 11, 2024Crisis & Change

I believe that fulfillment in life stems from a place of acceptance of one’s identity.

Growing up, it was not cool to be Ghanaian: To prefer banku and okra soup over fried rice. To enjoy playing a game of ampe over a game of scrabble. And it most definitely was not cool to speak the Ghanaian language, especially for me.

I come from a relatively minor ethnic group called Ewe. There were all sorts of stereotypes surrounding us, from being avid practitioners of black magic to generally being known as wicked people. So even if I could speak Ewe, I stuffed it in the deepest part of me. My name alone was an indication of who I was; I did not need a language to make it any more obvious.

My state of mind was even reflected in my taste in books. Nothing could beat Dork Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And no, this was not exclusive to me. In primary schools nationwide, people were most likely drawn to books like these.

As I advanced in age, I started a redress of my mentality. It began with what I ate. Starting to feel comfortable with a hearty meal of akpele and fetri dekyi and eating it with my hands (washed, of course). Then came a drift from Ariana Grande to Gyakie. On a typical hot afternoon, “Something” could be heard from a mile away from my room.

I think the change that made me most fulfilled were the books I began to read. I started to fill my brain with a daily dose of Yaa Gyasi, Ayesha Haruna Attah, and many more. And I enjoyed sharing my discoveries with my ever-listening mother.

Now, this essay is not to say one cannot enjoy aspects of life outside their culture, but I believe that before one can adopt any external content, he or she should know, live, and breathe what is within their space. Until that is realized, one is simply a log on an ocean, drifting wherever the wind or tide would take it.

As my future aspirations include a jet-setting life, I’m keen on keeping a piece of Ghana wherever I am. I mean, where else would I hear the daily exclamations of “Ei!” and be instantly warmed?

Maureen is a 17-year-old living in Accra, Ghana. She loves drawing, writing literary pieces, and debating on world issues.