I wrote a piece a few months ago about the trip Chris and I are planning to make to Ghana. The closer the time of the trip gets, the more anxious I’m becoming. Recently, I saw a You-Tube video of three young Africans (born in America) reviewing their visit to Ghana. The interviewer was interviewing them in Accra, the Capital City. They were standing in Independence Square which contains monuments to Ghana’s independence struggle, including the Independence Arch, Black Star Gate, and the Liberation Day Monument. Independence Square is the second largest City Square in the world after the Tiananmen Square.
While visiting one of the slave dungeons, one of the young people interviewed said they felt a sense of connection with their ancestors who were stolen from Africa. They felt their visit to Ghana was an answer to the inscription on the dungeon door which reads “Door of No Return.” After four hundred or so years, this young person’s family had come full circle. She was the representative chosen (by God, the universe, her ancestors) to make the return home. A return no African could remotely fathom four hundred years ago. I’ve heard this story on more than one occasion. Each time I hear it, I feel an emotional awakening. To this point those emotions are vicarious. God willing, I will feel the real thing in short order.
As I watched the video of these young folks, from New Orleans by the way, I felt a twinge of envy. They are young and making this trip to our land of origin with a good chance of many years left to visit other countries in Africa. One of the three had already been to several other countries on the continent. Why am I envious? I’m sixty-nine years old, living with a life-threatening disease, with probably little chance left of trekking back a fourth (with any significant repetitive degree) to my motherland. I’ve come late in life to an awareness of just how valuable my experience with Africa can be. I’m praying that the old saying of “better late than never” will be true with Mother Africa and me.
I do find myself thinking of what I will still miss even with my trip to Ghana. I’ll miss being able to make the precise connection to the two people, who were stashed in the cargo hold of a ship, brought to a foreign land and consummated the beginning of the generational journey that resulted in me sitting at this keyboard, composing these musings. The technology of ancestral investigation has come a long way in recent times; however, the most I can expect is discovery of regional or tribal identity somewhere in West Africa. Most of us can’t do what Alex Haley did with Roots. It would be nice though to find cousins remotely removed.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too