A veil was lifted from my eyes today. A bitter veil too, a heavy one. You know those moments in your life when you are profoundly humbled by knowledge? It’s as if suddenly the walls in your room have extended an inch and you can see it and you know it affects you and you affect it too. Like when we realize our parents aren’t superheroes (though they may still be our heroes in other ways). I can remember a few times in my life where my view of myself in relation to the world shifted dramatically. One time when I was about 14, I discovered that the ice cream man isn’t just in T.V. shows and movies but he actually drives around neighborhoods in his actual ice cream truck playing jolly tunes and you can actually buy ice cream from him. Hits. You. Hard.
In all seriousness though, it was today’s trip to the heart of Accra that my blinders were thrust wide open without any warning. Fun fact of the day? The Republic of Ghana was the first country on the African continent to gain independence. In fact, it has only been established as an independent country for 55 years. 55 YEARS. That means barely half a century ago, Ghana was still under the thumb of Britain. Half a century ago, there were areas of the country that native Ghanians were forbidden to enter, including one particular site that we visited today which is now the memorial for Ghana’s very first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the same man who declared independence for Ghana, March 1957. Since then, Ghana has been working to reassert its identity and influence in social, political, and economic spheres after having been stunted by the effects of colonialism. Another fun fact? The vision of Kwame Nkrumah as well as other prominent figures in Ghana’s history including sociologist (and one of my personal idols) W. E. B. Du Bois was that Ghana would be one of the principal nations to lead the other African countries to one day come together as the United States of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah’s leadership was cut short when he was overthrown and exiled in 1966 (it is supposed that the U.S. Gov’t had an involvement, since the U.S. has had a decent record of disrupting socialist leadership). The African Union continues on to this day to make this dream a reality.
Hello... HELLO! How is this the first time I have heard about any of this??? These issues are important... they are crucial... they affect the rest of the world! Especially, especially since a very significant amount of natural resources that we import are from west Africa. Yet, ironically, despite the wealth of resources here, the Ghanian people have access to little of it. Of course, I am no expert on the innerworkings of Ghana’s (or by extension, Africa's) development, but I think it is safe to say that our nations are very much interconnected on a global level.
I am absolutely baffled that I have never been exposed to this knowledge. I have no doubt that it is out there; it took no more than a quick Google search to begin pulling up information on my computer. Am I so out of the loop of world news or does even the mass media fail to make mention of these goings on? Either way, I can’t and I won’t stand for it. The people that I eat with, speak with, and walk beside here; they are all impacted by the choices my country makes and I have been asleep to it. They matter. We matter. I feel... impassioned, but I don’t know what to do with this emotion. Though I guess that is how all activism begins, right? There is a stone in my shoe and I am sure that stone will only grow more persistent while I am here. I am eager to see where it takes me... and I ask God that social work will be the vessel that leads me there.
You know, I used to believe ignorance was something to pity in others. But I feel there are times we can’t help that we don’t know. Maybe the real tragedy is not that we are in the darkness, it’s when we choose not to seek out the light.
Anyway, I guarantee my day consisted of much more than this, but I am honestly too exhausted to think! Tomorrow we leave to visit Cape Coast for the weekend so I may not have internet access until I am back on Sunday. Until then, nante yie, and I love you all <3