If you follow my blogs, you know that I had my first trip to the African continent during the Christmas/ New Year holiday season of 2020/2021. The experience was all I expected it to be. It was wonderful, to say the least. Accompanying me were my wife, my oldest child, a cousin, and his wife. For most of my life I hadn’t given much thought to visiting the land of my ancestors. Undoubtedly, I had unconsciously bought into the untruths that the media and others had weaved about Africa. You know, all Africans are starving, living in trees, that kind of stuff that work to convince African Americans that Africa isn’t the place to be.
Our trip, or should I say our pilgrimage, to Ghana, West Africa was an eye-opening experience. I can say for myself that it was a spiritual experience. We arrived in Accra, the capital city, at night so I couldn’t get a good view of places along the route to our hotel. However, the next morning, with the daylight came a view that was culturally foreign to me. There were people all about, walking in the streets, minding their tiny business ventures on the side of the road. People were everywhere attempting, to their very best, to make a living. As the ten-day tour unfolded, it became apparent that there was a high amount of energy being expended everywhere. Of course, Ghana, as with most African countries, has no government-sponsored safety net. People must work. And work they do.
This ever-present mass of humanity out and about selling their wears was present along the highways that traversed small towns, as we drove from Accra to the second largest city, Kumasi. Kumasi was a different type of large metropolitan area from Accra. It is where the Ashanti Empire existed from 1701 to 1901 when it was annexed by the British. The British colonization of this area didn’t happen without strong military resistance from the people of this region. Touring the Ashanti palace and viewing the exhibits there, gave me a sense of appreciation of how proud and regal the people of this region were and still are. There were exhibits of the kings who had once ruled over this region.
Chris, my oldest daughter, and I have another trip planned for Africa during the latter part of this year. We’re going to South Africa. From all that I’ve read, seen in videos, and heard from others who’ve been there, South Africa will present less cultural shock than any other country an African American might experience on the continent. It has infrastructure and business models that are much like what westerners are accustomed to. We plan to visit Johannesburg and Cape Town. There will also be time set aside for what I call a bloodless safari. I must admit, I’m praying that my health will continue to do well. I’ve lived well, for the most part, over the last twenty-two years with the horrible disease called Multiple Myeloma. Since I’ve written about it before, I’ll simply say it’s an incurable blood cancer. Thus far, it has not prevented me from living my best life.
This love affair I have with the continent of my ancestors is calling me to make at least four trips to its soil. I’ve been to the west. I’m scheduled to visit the south. My bucket list will not be full until I’ve visited some country in the east and north. Four countries out of fifty-four would be minimally sufficient.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.