A Reflection On My Week In Ghana

I recently just traveled to Accra, Ghana for spring break. It was my first time in Africa. This was definitely one of the most interesting trips I had gone on. I think what made it that way was the group of people I traveled with, the people I met on the journey, the activities I participated in, and my own sentiments on traveling to the motherland.

I went with my scholarship group at NYU. It was about 36 people. 5 adults and the rest were students. As with any group of people, when you have a large group living together in close quarters for days, there are going to be conflicts. However, these conflicts were different than any other conflicts that I had encountered before, and I know it had a lot to do with the fact that this scholarship group is comprised of rising activists.

Initially, I had set out to find myself an African prince, and although there were many prospects I didn’t quite find the one. A lot of the time, I felt like I was a display in the eyes of the men there. Before I would even speak, they knew I was American. And they were not shy about sharing with me that they found that exotic. Personally, I did attract a lot of attention from the men in Ghana. At the time, the marriage proposals, the attempts to hold my hand, the declaring of me as their “African Queen,” and just the comments about my appearance in general seemed laughable and sometimes was a confidence booster. But as I reflect a little more, I’m starting to become a little more uncomfortable with it. That has a lot to do with the way I was treated after I would turn down offers. For example, at the airport, one of the workers was trying to flirt with me but I didn’t want to engage. He actively would lean forward in front of my face when I would try to look away from him. Finally he got upset that I was not flirting back. He made me give him my passport as he questioned me. I didn’t answer any of the questions, I let my male friends handle it. When I got my passport back I was instructed to wipe the look of annoyance off of my face and to just let it go. I was the only person out of about 100 people that had to give my passport to that man. So yes, I was annoyed. The male ego is fragile everywhere. But in my experiences, they seemed to be a little bit more vocal in Ghana.

We visited two villages in Ghana. One village was a traditional village, and the other was in a more urban area. In the urban area we worked at a community center. It’s called Basics. First, I’d like to note that Basics is amazing. It provides a safe haven for kids, gets them off the street and into school, and really helps the kids develop their reading and math skills. At Basics we had a contest to see who could collect the most trash in the village. My team lost. We also helped paint tires and the walls on the outside of the community center. It was a lot of fun. In the traditional village we had a naming ceremony, where we received new names and became apart of their village. My name is Yaa Tsoeke, which means to forgive. That resonated with me a lot because there are people in my life that I need to forgive. We also donated about $5000 worth of school supplies. But what is most interesting about these two vastly different experiences we had was people’s opinions about it. One guy in my group made a comment about how he preferred the kids at Basics because it seemed like they had goals and they were taking advantage of the opportunities given to them. He said this because at the end of our experience in the traditional village we had a lot of kids asking us for money. However, they also asked for water and pens. I really didn’t understand why he couldn’t seem to empathize with these kids. Clearly if one group of kids are living in an urban area and the other is living in a remote area, the playing field is not leveled. The kids in the urban area had a program like basics whereas the elders needed cement to build a community center in the traditional village. That was just an upsetting and disappointing comment to hear.

During the whole trip, I felt extremely connected to Africa. And I think that had a lot to do with everyone in Ghana being extremely hospitable. I’ve been reading a lot about pan-africanism, and I was starting to form my own opinions on the matter. But, nothing compares to actually being in Africa and being accepted as a member of the community. It felt good to learn about a culture and a history that could potentially belong to my ancestors. We visited the Elmina slave castle, which was an extremely emotional experience. While it felt good to learn about a culture and a history that could potentially belong to my ancestors, I also felt overwhelmed with sadness. We went into this one room called the “Room Of No Return,” and all I kept thinking was that it was unfair that I got to turn around and leave. My ancestors didn’t get the choice. Furthermore, it felt good not to be considered a minority for once. Here at NYU, I feel like I’ve been struggling because I’ve been one of two black people in the room. But in Ghana, my brown skin didn’t serve as an outlier, but rather as something that helped me build a sense of camaraderie with everyone in the room. It was something I haven’t felt in a long time. It was comforting.

On the other side of that was a friend of mine who is of mixed race. Her skin is lighter, she is considered fair skin. And while I did see advertisements for skin lightening creams and techniques, it appeared to me that darker skin was valued in the society. I gather this from my interaction with the men. As I talked about earlier I attracted a lot of attention from the men, but she did not. She and I both noticed. She made various comments on the matter, most being jokes. She said that at the market someone came up to her and said that she “needed coco butter for her yellow skin.” She also talked a lot about feeling unwelcomed because of her skin color. I couldn’t help but feel bad because I know this trip meant a lot to her, as she just discovered she is part Ghanaian. But also a part of me did not sympathize with her. In the United States, as well as most areas of the world, fair skin is favored. The default representation of black women in the media is light skin women with long hair, it’s an image that is only recently beginning to change. I found myself sometimes getting annoyed at her comments because this was only for a week, this wasn’t permanent. Her skin color only dubbed her less beautiful for a week. After this, she would go back to being the favored one. Whereas, I was dealing with the reverse. I struggled with and will continue to struggle with my whole life as dark skin and “nappy” hair is considered to be less attractive. I’m not saying that she didn’t have a right to be upset, because she did. No woman or femme should be made to feel unwanted. I just wanted to note that this whole not feeling desirable thing was an unfortunate burden that dark skin women bear without complaint all too often.

Overall, I had a lovely time in Ghana. I didn’t find my prince, but I learned a lot about myself as well as the people around me on this trip. Every Ghanaian child that I met this week, regardless of economic status appeared to be enjoying their life. It was this assumed comfortability with life that they had. I never heard any of them complain. Granted, my statements could be tainted because I was only in those villages for about a day, and these were children. Children tend to be more positive than adults. Nonetheless, it got me thinking.  I can only aspire to be that happy. I can only aspire to live my life that content. I need to live in the moment a little more because everything can’t be planned, and everything won’t go right. I wouldn’t change this experience for the world. I could really picture myself living in Africa somewhere down the line.



  1. Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a
    blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us have
    created some nice practices and we are looking to trade strategies with others, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if

  2. It’s perfect time to make a few plans for the long
    run and it is time to be happy. I have read this publish and if I may just I desire to counsel you few attention-grabbing issues or tips.

    Maybe you can write subsequent articles regarding this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

  3. I seriously love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own personal site and
    want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme
    is named. Kudos!

  4. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your
    site? Its very well written; I love what youve
    got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
    1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  5. I was recommended this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether
    this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about
    my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

  6. Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few
    of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I
    think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  7. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i
    was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is
    very much appreciated.

  8. Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to
    new posts.

  9. Whats up very cool site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
    I’ll bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I am happy to search out numerous useful info right here in the submit, we want develop extra strategies on this
    regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  10. I don’t even understand how I ended up here, but I
    thought this put up used to be good. I don’t know who you’re however definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger for those who are
    not already. Cheers!

  11. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired!
    Very helpful information specifically the last part 🙂
    I deal with such information a lot. I was looking for this certain information for
    a long time. Thanks and good luck.

  12. We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your website provided us with helpful info to work on. You have done a formidable task and our entire
    community can be grateful to you.

  13. I think this is one of the most significant information for me.

    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is
    really great : D. Good job, cheers

  14. Hi, i feel that i saw you visited my blog so i got here to go back the prefer?.I am trying to find things
    to enhance my site!I guess its ok to make use of some of your ideas!!

  15. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement
    account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we communicate?

  16. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks,
    However I am having issues with your RSS.

    I don’t understand why I cannot subscribe to it.
    Is there anybody having identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?

  17. Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that
    would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  18. Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this website.

    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to
    get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appearance.

    I must say you have done a fantastic job with this. Additionally, the blog
    loads very quick for me on Safari. Superb Blog!

  19. Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that
    this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it!
    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice

  20. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is great, as well as the content!

  21. Fantastic items from you, man. I have be aware your stuff
    previous to and you are just extremely great.
    I really like what you’ve bought here, certainly like what you’re
    saying and the best way wherein you say it. You’re making it enjoyable and you continue to take care of
    to keep it sensible. I can not wait to learn much more from you.
    This is actually a tremendous web site.

  22. Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using?

    Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  23. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of information on your page.
    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hello there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll certainly
    digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

  24. Great site. Plenty of useful info here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thanks for your effort!

  25. Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since I bookmarked it.
    Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be
    rich and continue to guide other people.

  26. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where
    I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the
    same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  27. Hey there this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted
    to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  28. Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was
    wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published.

Click on the background to close