Africa 101 from a Jamaican in South Africa (Jamaica)

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Africa 101 from a Jamaican in South Africa

Published Feb 25, 2006

Social functions that I attend with my Ghanaian husband in South Africa are usually peppered with the question "How did you guys meet and how did you end up here?" I am so used to telling it that I fear that one day someone in the gathering will finish my sentences for me. Nonetheless, I'll tell it again, and explain how we ended up in South Africa, or this place called "Africa", that even Jamaicans talk about as if it were a small, homogenous country.

So here goes....

First, a little 101 in Africa...it's one BIG place, made up of very different countries, ethnic groups and languages. (I know this sounds basic, but work with me...you'd be surprised how many people treat it otherwise, black folk included). To refer to one "African" culture, is as wrong as to say that Spain has the same “European” culture as Germany and France, as if there were one European culture...that there is bullfighting in Germany, and that there are lots of stiff upper lips in Portugal. Sure there are lots of similarities across African countries, but if you lump all African countries together, you will miss the glory.

Second, a little 101 on me. I never came to Africa looking for the motherland. Nah sah. All that happened is that I met a really nice guy in College in the US, talked with him about his childhood in Ghana, realised that he felt as strongly about Ghana as I did Jamaica, became his bredrin, and fell in love. Plain and straight. We stayed close throughout graduate school and into our first jobs, and finally got married and lived in DC. Shortly thereafter he got a chance to transfer temporarily to South Africa, and my bag was packed, before you could say 'jack'. South Africa here we come!!!

Africa 101 from a Jamaican in South Africa-Body-2

 

We always knew that we would live in “Africa” one day...Ghana, to be specific. South Africa was not on the books, but when the opportunity presented itself, we simply said, "Why not?" We'd 'done' the US for close to 10 years, and were looking for a change of scenery. Besides, we'd always keep the option of returning to the States, so it was a relatively risk-free move. Who'd have known that 3 years later, you couldn't pay us to return to live and work in the US. No babba. Not after "doing" South Africa.

 

We loved South Africa when we came in 1996, and continue to do so, in our second stint here (2 years and counting). It was the best of both worlds, at least for the professional class (me nah lie...plenty poverty still deh bout, but from where we sat in 1996, my life was comfortable). I call SA "Washington in Africa". Technology and advertising that I was yet to see in the US, zero potholes (they are so rare that when there is a recurring pothole, the roads authorities put up a sign), amenities like never seen in JA, the cleanest public toilets I’d seen in the world (Wow! In “Africa” of all places! Who would have thought?”) And yet, people of all races have an appreciation for relaxed life and leisure, just like we do in JA and Ghana, in a developing country kind of way. The sense of professionalism was very high, and yet, people didn’t mess with their leisure time. They work hard, but boy, do they play hard and love family and friends. People crack jokes with strangers, and people have a sense of humane-ness and family that we were missing in the US. And, for professional women, house help is available, the backbone of many of households with people working out of the home.

What did South Africans then know about Jamaicans? (and Ghanaians?) Not much. Cricket. A little Bob Marley. South Africans had been so closed off from the rest of the world, that their knowledge was pretty sparse, save for the South Africans who had been in exile or had studied in the rest of the world. Even less was their knowledge of Ghana, which to them might as well have been on the other side of the world. Apartheid pretty much lead to a disconnect from even the rest of Africa, and the high standard of living definitely has some people feeling superior to what they call "North Africans" which is basically anyone living north of SA. Some black South Africans believed that the entire continent spoke Zulu, and would actually get angry when my husband spoke in English. Blame the education system. I suppose it wasn't in the interest of the apartheid government to have black folk know that there were millions of intelligent, worldly black people living throughout the world, much less teach black South African folk about them.

What was it like living in South Africa as a black person in 1996? Well, if my hair needed a relaxer and the grannies were starting to spring at the back of my neck, black folk figured I was black and would speak to me in Zulu. If I had just relaxed my short hair, people figured I was “coloured” and would speak to me in Afrikaans. What were white folk like towards us? (this is by far the most popular question coming from Jamaicans). Let’s put it this way. It was no worse than living in Virginia, USA race-wise, and to boot, I have never had anyone follow me around in a shop here, suspicious if I held onto a product for too long, unlike the US. So there.

My mother, and many Jamaicans and Ghanaians are pleasantly surprised that everyone is so nice here, across the races, and that on a daily basis, life is, well, normal. South Africans interact with even strangers in a very humane way, making conversation with your children as if you go way back. Race doesn't really occur to me in my daily activities. I remind Jamaicans and other foreigners that not everyone supported apartheid, and in fact, many whites wanted it to end. Just because whites weren't striking, picketing and toyi-toying didn't mean they enjoyed apartheid. I compare the situation to Jamaica.....classism is a wretched thing, and it is one of the most disempowering things in Jamaica. Not all of us support it, but then again, it doesn't mean that we are going to protest outside of JBC and march through the streets of Kingston. Does the fact that we don't march mean that we are classist? Not necessarily. Same with apartheid. Not every white person is racist. Not everyone north of Half Way Tree is classist. Dem jus' doan boddah buck the system more than suh.

Many of our friends in SA were other corporate Africans, Ivy League, LSE and otherwise educate, who had transferred with their US and UK-based companies, much like my husband Kofi. They'd had enough of America and the UK, wanted to go home to Ghana/Uganda/Nigeria/any African country, but weren't quite ready for the life of hardship that their home countries would offer them. So for them, South Africa was a good middle ground....first world standards and amenities, with a touch of Africa, and only 4-6 hours away from home, relatives and childhood delicacies. There were also a few West Indians who had also come via the UK or US, and all in all, our social life was great. South Africa was and still is a country of immense opportunity and optimism, and there is a vibe in the air that reeks of possibility. Our South African friends make us wish we could speak Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Xhosa and the 5 other "black languages" because our understanding of South Africa and the pulse of the country is limited by our ignorance of languages. We encourage our children to learn all 4 multilingual verses of the national anthem because it symbolizes everything that South Africa stands for. A plea for God’s blessing, reconciliation, forgiveness and an optimism-led passion to move ahead.

After a few years of living in Johannesburg, my husband got a job opportunity in Ghana. Ghana wasn't on the cards for maybe another 5 years, but we grabbed the chance and went to Accra, with one child and another on the way. We were home. Ghana was what a Jamaican would call "the real Africa"...i.e. more like what Jamaicans imagine of Africa—tye dye and batik outfits, dashikis and flowing colourful dresses, heat, drums and music, food and feel. It is so much my home, which it is now actually difficult for me to step back and look at it through the eyes of a Jamaican. I wouldn't know where to start to talk about Ghana. At the risk of being simplistic, let me include what Jamaicans and other West Indians have said about it.

Ghana is like Jamaica back in the 60s. (I'm told this by older people). Ghana is the key to understanding why we do what we do in our daily lives as Jamaicans...why we walk the way we do, why we eat what we eat, why we dance and talk as we do, why we say words like "nyam", eat "dokonoo", expressions like "seh feh" when we want to dare someone. (BTW, the word "seh" really means is not the word "say" pronounced badly. As in twi, the langugage of the Ashanti, "seh" means "that".) Listen to Ghanaians speak, and you will give much more credit to patois and our local proverbs and expressions. Ghana touches your soul in corners you never knew existed. Understand Ghana and you will understand why family ties are so important in Jamaica, and why Jamaican women are so independent minded, ambitious, and yes, cantankerous to a fault at time, and believe in carrying "vex money" when they go out with a man.

Africa 101 from a Jamaican in South Africa-Body

And let me remind you. I was never one to romanticize about "Africa" the “motherland”. I was just a simple Jamaican Barbican-living, former St. Andrew's High, patty nyaming girl, who fell in love with a nice guy who happened to be from Ghana and who reminded me of the average Wolmers/JC/C'bar/KC/Georges boy in JA.

Now, me nah lie. You haffe hustle to live in Ghana. Things can be slow, dusty, traditional, pedantic, frustrating, head-beating, confusing (unless the culture is decoded for you), bureaucratic, and completely unpredictable. (I can't begin to tell you the many examples of these). However, there are many pluses when you look at the big picture, and stop having expectations about what life is "supposed "to be.

We stayed in Ghana for 5 years, which I wouldn't give back for the world, in spite of some very frustrating moments. I worked with a local ad agency, which gave me insight beyond belief into "Things Ghanaian." My workmates taught me about the sensuality of Ghanaian women who wear hip beads for their men, how to eat efficiently with one hand, how to pay respect and show appreciation to people, how to tie a scarf properly, for a 3-day funeral in my husband's ancestral village, and how to preserve egos and not to belittle husbands publicly. I learned how to shake hands with everyone, one by one upon entering a room, even if I didn’t know them, and how to greet people in an anti-clockwise direction. I also heard a lot of painful stories about marital relationships, and have had to throw away my image of marriage which comprises a monogamous husband and wife, and two little children. (For the record, and since all Jamaicans wonder, no, I did not arrive in Ghana to find my husband with 4 other children and 2 other wives). I learned about both sides of marriages from my male and female colleagues and friends, who opened up to me, the questioning 'white’ girl.

I learned about the subtle, relatively calm, unassuming ego and pride of Ghanaian men, and realised that Jamaican women are generally known to be a bit 'much' for Ghanaian men....in fact, I met quite a few Ghanaian men who had had Jamaican women in their lives at some point. They had loved their feisty spirits and ackee and saltfish dearly, but they just couldn't handle taking them home, knowing that living and being part of the Ghanaian family in Ghana would be hard for a Jamaican woman. I barely passed the "test", but am happy I did. Ghanaian men congratulate my husband in (partial) jest for having been brave enough to marry me (plenty work, apparently), but at the same time, reminisce about "Jackie", “Sharon” or "Novlette" who they left behind in the US and UK

I learned about Ghanaian's allegiance to family, and learned that at a man's funeral, his widow is only slightly more than an invited guest. The deceased belongs to his birth family, his parents and siblings, and not the woman he’s married to. A shocker for a Jamaican, to say the least. Until a few years ago, among the matrilineal Ashanti, only a man's sister's children could inherit his wealth, even if he was married with children of his own. You see, before the advent of DNA, your sister's children were the only people a man could swear were related to him by blood. A man could never swear that his children, were really his children. If you get what I mean. Yep, his children could really have been someone else’s. Like the postman’s or the UPS man’s, or…..Who could tell? Why risk passing on your family property to another man’s child?

That said, I learned with joy that a man in Ghana who has a child out of marriage, will very seldom deny that child. Ghanaian men don't run from fatherhood the way many Jamaican men do. Even if the child is for his girlfriend, a man will step forward, name the child, and pay school fees. This means that in Ghana there are much fewer children who are "fatherless", regardless of how many children are born outside of marital unions. Our Jamaican men appear cowardly in comparison with Ghanaian men who own uo to their extramarital children.

On the other hand, Ghanaians run from confrontation in a manner that Jamaicans would call cowardly. They seldom fight the way we do, and they will do everything in their power to avoid confrontation, even if it means to bend the truth a little. While Jamaicans call lying "hypocritical," Ghanaians call it "keeping the peace", and have they insist that there is a time and place for everything. You are allowed to bend the truth until the time is right to disclose the truth. Jamaicans in Ghana struggle to get used to the idea of playing 'hypocrite', but still respect the fact that doing so for years, has made Ghana the relatively peaceful country that it is.

The Jamaicans and other West Indians in Ghana are strong in their numbers, and we comprise a fairly eclectic mix. There are the old timers, who have been in Ghana for over 40 years, after marrying their Ghanaian husbands in the UK. They came to Ghana by boat, seldom received letters, and had no technology like email to keep them in touch with family. Until a couple years ago, they still had to apply for visas to live in Ghana every 2 years or so, since marrying Ghanaians didn’t automatically grant them residence.Then there are the Rastas, some live and direct from Jamaica, and others via the US and UK. Then there are the 30 and 40 something year olds, like myself who came a few years after university and weddings. Then there are those who come with international organizations, and move on to other African countries after a few years. We all hustle there, but we all love it. We cook our ackee, which grows wild and which some Ghanaians eat raw, as a fruit. We love the hills of Accra, which remind us Jamaica, and we all struggle to own a little land in the hills. We love a party, and let loose and wine on a dance floor and bring a “raunchy” flavour to local styles. We challenge the Ghanaian notion that married women have to start "looking married" at a certain age, and we bend the traditional rules on occasion. But we love Ghana, and it makes it hard for us to leave.

That said, Kofi and I packed up the children after 5 years in Ghana, and returned to South Africa. Ghana proved tough professionally and financially, for two western, book smart graduates, used to working and doing business in a more, shall I say, "Western" manner...The heartbeat and engine of Ghana is trade...and if you don’t have trading bones in your body, you struggle to make it. In Ghana you have to go with the flow and hustle in a way that we got tired of. So while we love Ghana, we decided to leave for a while to recoup our professional lives, and save up for our eventual return.

Our kids spent 4 months living in Jamaica, going to school and living with their Grandma and Grandpa, while we managed the move from Ghana to South Africa. They are very close to my parents, who managed to visit us every year, for a couple months at a time. The kids learned the Jamaican anthem, ate patty and bullah like Jamaican kids, and even had a touch of patois under their belts by the time they left. They are as comfortable there as they are in South Africa and Ghana. I try not to confuse them when it comes to nationality, by telling them that they are Ghanaians (despite their American passports), who are lucky to be able to call Jamaica (and South Africa) home as well. At 8, 7 and 4, they are fine with that, and don’t pretend to be otherwise.

After 2 years of being away from Ghana we returned for a month-long holiday. It was sweet beyond belief. It confirmed that Ghana is home. In addition to Jamaica, that is. We are in South African for pragmatic reasons, but Ghana is our soul. Ghana has far more of the "texture" of life that we delight in, even though South African living is much much simpler, on a day to day basis. With 3 children, simplicity and predictability count for a lot. There is NO DOUBT that we will live in Ghana again, as that is home, and our hearts yearn for it all the time. But for now, we are happy to still be in Africa, shuttling between Accra and Johannesburg. We still know that our hearts and souls are in Ghana, but that we don’t' have to be there all the time to contribute and to feel a part of it. Not right now, that is.

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Carol Ann Avorgbedor-Laing
Aug 28, 2010 7:03pm [ 1 ]

August 28, 2010

The essay above by the Jamaican woman who is married to a Ghanaian man is interesting! Naturally, I didn't share all her assumptions but some of her observations were on par.

On sister's observations on the Ghanaian allegiance, I didn't quite see things in her fashion.

On confrontation and challenge, I definitely did not see this nature in the Ghanaians I had observed while living as a Jamaican/Naturalized American in Ghana from Summer 1986 to December 1989.

And I would not presume to speak for Ghanaians in general. Nor would I speak for Jamaicans as a whole.

All I know now is that while living in Ghana, although I felt "landed" --- "comfortable" "grounded" and well settled in my spirit. And if I had only remained in one place and made myself invisible, then I would have been a mass of harmony and peace in that great country! I was not. I was one mass of fear, anxiety and mistrust. I had been deeply assaulted with that self-embedded fear long before I reached the Continent. My woes actually began in the plane over Europe and then one through Cape Coast all the airways into Ghana. At one point, the pilot contemplated landing the plane to see if I needed to get medical help for my pulse was gone, it was not to be found! Is truth stranger than fiction? Beloved reader, God Knows Best!

Yes, as a Jamaican/American woman living in great independent-minded Ghana, I still was one mass of fear-embedded and foul-reported structure of the female form. My life was not normal in Ghana at that time, in that era.

Foul reports dogged me at every turn in Ghana! If I went to the marketplace, I was not allowed to touch a stack of fruits or examine anything with my fingers or with my eyes. If I was going to stand and stare or just loiter with indecision, I was cursed and told to get going or worse, looked upon as someone filthy and lewd. Never underestimate the annoyed eyes of a Ghanaian market woman!

Language I learned is one unifying theme in anyone’s arsenal of peace!
But even so, in Ghana I observed that certain languages are preferred and certain ones despised.

What language was I to learn? I was confused and miserable to find out. And since I love art, language and beauty, when I heard the languages about me, the only languages I really loved were the languages spoken by the peoples of Northern Ghana!
Their speech was art to my ears!

The Asanti-Twi, or even the Akwapim Twi and the Ewe language seemed more like a quarrelsome language to me and so I never wanted to learn either of those languages. And I did not find much difference with the Ga language either.

But the reader can deduce if I was acting in my outlook of bias.
Perhaps only a psychologist would give me anything clear here.

Foolishly however, I opted to learn French and wished I wished I could have learned Hausa!

I learned by listening to the English-speaking natives that Hausa is the language of commerce. And how! Most all our Stewards and washermen were all Northern Ghanaians, Many spoke Hausa fluently. Also, the Hausa from Nigeria and other Northern Islamic countries often passed through our campus dwelling, just so they could trade in their wares and gain better prices from visitors and foreign people who lived on the campus.

Of course, the Good Lord Knowing what is best for each of His children, “Knew His Wisdom and Ways for my life,” and so it was on a fine day, I was informed that I would have my French-instructed lessons no more.

My first French instructor took flight and had to leave Ghana on a scholarship to Spain. It took no time for me to replace my French scholar with yet another fine French speaker from our campus church.

The two French instructors who won scholarships to Spain were also students who studied some Spanish, or so I imagined.
The good word about them though was that they had to go over to Spain for their studies.

Again came another negative in my case. God’s Wisdom took preference a second time, and my last and only contracted French instructor also was called away, having won a scholarship to the said-same country, Spain.

I was sad for myself, but happy for the two lads for whom I rejoiced that they were able to get on to the next journey in their “Purposes” in God’s Plan for their lives.

So I lost out on learning that beautiful French language, did I wither and die? Not a chance! I carried on and trusted God mightily in Ghana for His next “Movement” in the waters of my life.

Nowadays in the U.S. if we want to learn any language, we have a product called Sharon Stone, one of the best language courses I’ve been hearing about recently. Yes it’s costly, but what is good for us is usually costly.

While I lived in Legon, my husband had some wealthy family members in Makola Market and in the general center of the city of Accra. One Uncle owned a Petrol Station. One relative traded by traveling to countries like Hong Kong, Lagos and other exotic countries in Africa as well as in the U.K.

And I didn’t like it that I felt as an ants [small and insignificant] in Ghana!

I was poorer than a tree sloth in Ghana, especially after I had to withdrew from the university and no longer received a stipend while I took classes.

While our family members lived with the German currency called Marks and the British pound sterling, we labored to count our cedis and straighten out the creases or taped the tears in our Ghanaian paper cedi currencies.

I praise God for one humble but righteous, not self righteous but “humbly righteous” cousin in Ghana who came often to my comfort. That was Cousin A…. She came to Legon and taught me a simple but powerful song. It went something like this: “Brighten the corner where you are/ brighten the corner where you are…… It was all the cure I needed to feel put back together again, and to receive God’s Healing Balm to steady me for His Great Deliverance out of West Africa.

It was only a few nights ago while in my Quiet Time of Study and Reflection with my Lord and my God, that I learned one of God’s Greatest Lessons!

I learned from a verse in the Proverbs this: “THE CURSE CAUSELESS SHALL NOT COME!” Oh, what a Grace to learn such truth!

What I really enjoyed while living in Ghana was to get away, run even --- into Accra’s downtown area, just to be free of the smugness I felt on the Legon campus. And though I enjoyed visiting the U.S. I. S. Library, I found the place too jam-packed with souls in order to hear myself think or to hear God’s Voice in my spirit. Every student in Accra filled that U.S.I.S. Library then.

Imagine when the university was closed down for a commotion called an ‘Aluta’ what really happened in Legon then?

Imagine then that great American institution of a library, how filled-up it was with students seeking anything, refuge, information, companion, anything!

The commotion on the Legon campus was my last straw! After that, I prayed mightily for God’s Deliverance from that great Continent.

And where was that smugness concentrated other than on the campus? It was concentrated in my own spirit, from fears and misinformation about the entire Ghanaian culture as verses the Jamaican culture.

I even met one person that resembled my own father to a tee!
The gentle soul had Dad's bone structure to the very form and function of his being! When I inquired of the gentle elderly fellow who also shared my maiden name, he wanted to help me with more intelligence, but he was too busy a man, too important a man and too much "sought-after" in his own personal community and surroundings so that I learned not a stitch in time about my heritage, or my father's namesake; or how folks with Daddy’s surname found themselves in Ghana. The good elderly man tried. He really tried. When he sent me to consult with some of his relatives in the Cantonments area of Accra, I went. However, I was made to feel that unless I brought something valuable to the table, I was not going to get one iota from any of the males or elderly females in the large household.

But feelings are never a true register of truth! Feelings are only an impression. Our feelings can also be an illusion.

And what is impressed upon us whether verbally or non-verbal, isn't always valid, isn't always truth.

A Despised Institution Or Mainstay In Ghana . . . I found that the system of bribery or "dash" was very limiting to economic progress in Ghana.

I had so many negatives about Ghana that I was my own worse enemy!

And my negatives about Ghana embodied not only that nation, my negative connotations regarding Africa also included Nigeria.

Just the whole Continent of Africa was off-limits to me since childhood.

This negative growth about Ghana and Africa as a whole began in me during Civic classes in my Roman Catholic Primary School in Kingston. We were shown TV images of the Biafran War in Nigeria and I might have seen those images once too many times! Or, I may have heard a careless and strayed negative report about the birth of the African nation so that I cared very little for that part of the world.

I never wanted to recognize Africa at all, more too on account of the negative reports of the Nyah men and Rastafarians who lived in Kingston, a people who seem to elect to be outcast and a nation unto themselves.
I never understood them. They preached to those who were not Rastafarians or Nyah men and women about being more African. There always were negative comments or put-downs to women for appearing to be non-African by the way the a woman's hair was processed.

In Kingston during my times living there, I always was wary of the Rasta and the Nyah men! One humble and quiet Nyah man was a neighbor in one of the tenements where my biological mother lived! He and his wife had many children. Still, I never understood him and was genuinely afraid of the man and his wife.

With the Rastafarians of the sixties in Kingston, one never knew if they'd offer a whipping to a neutral passerby, or, whether one would deliver a sermon on being all African, a pure African. Many old-timers of my time rebelled in Kingston for this outlook in the Rastamen.
And though a constant tension mounted in Kingston with that sect of individuals, it was somewhat only a silent tension. It was never a rebellion by the masses in Kingston to mount a rally against the Rastafarian belief systems, no. Even when Haile Selasie came to visit Jamaica, the word spread like a Christmas sparkler that the Honorable Haile Selasie said something to the effect that he hoped God would Bless the Jamaican people. All this was said while the crowds thronged the airports and housetops just to get a glimpse of a man whom many Rastafarians believed was their 'savior' and King!

After the visit by the Ethiopian Emperor, a number of Jamaicans began to view the Rastafarians in a negative light, in a light that they were a law unto themselves and that they were to be ignored. Lord help the young girl or a young boy who made out as if they were going to have their hair in dreadlocks then! But here, I've said too much and I didn't state this to put down any of my people. There are good and bad in every country.

So, essentially, Africa in my mind was full of misinformation and distrust.

First of all, I learned that what I was lacking was a tour of some of the other cities in Ghana.

My husband is from the Volta Region and when I was taken there, how I felt as home! How all my fears melted, once the "Good Lord" brought upon me a deep sleep in my deepest during my most dreadful fears, a time when I was to get on board in a tiny but shallow boat to cross over a wide lagoon to get to my husband's village! I never thought I'd make it from my seizures of self-embedded fears, but by God's Great Grace, I made it when I was "literally and figuratively put in a deep sleep" until I reached the spot where I had to be awaken to get out from the "special" "God-Glorifying little boat."

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention yet another mysterious experience I had in the Volta Region. When I was awaken by the boatman and by my husband, as we reached the sands on the shore of the lagoon, I looked around with wide-eyes, a look as if I was seeing for the very first time. A virgin vision, it seemed. What I saw no one will understand nor will any reader completely comprehend what I observed. I looked beyond the boat at the vast plain of caramel-colored dirt and white sand, and though it seemed to me as if what I saw was a Land Rover driving in the sand dunes, I watched just that.

Where the Land Rover came from, is not something I can answer.

Was there another road that the occupants of the Land Rover took that we didn’t know of? Perhaps. Anyhow, I watched the scenery with the moving Land Rover and did watch until “I perceived the vehicle to disappear.” Did the Land Rover disappear before my eyes? Or did it take a declining route or a downhill drive? God again Knows all things.

To my virgin eyes, the Land Rover disappeared instantly before my eyes!
I did not bother to question anyone. I took hold of my lesson that Ghana was filled with such occurrences, some as mystical as the moon.

The only other mystical moment that I experienced with my very eyes and also with my body was of course the Ackee Tree in purgatory or hell and also the Rain Tree on the Legon campus. The huge homes of the soldier ants wasn’t a mystery to me for I had long ago observed such ant homes in history books. Now if they attacked me, that would have been a mystical experience, but I’ve gone a tad bit ahead of myself here.

I was nearly attacked by fierce shiny black and brown ants, ready for the protection of a resident on the campus, or else, ready for war full blown! Never in my life had I ever envisioned gazillion ants, all swarming to and fro, digging deep and emerging high, very slowly. And to look at them under a moonlit sky, the whole citizen of them shone!

But I am being too easy on my experiences in Ghana. Didn’t a black baby snake found himself a cozy shelter in our lawn chair, which we had stored under our bed? The poor hot and bothered snake felt too hot and he climbed into our window air conditioner duct or through the vents and found a refuge. Who can blame the poor snake?
At the time I was in shock and fright, and even then, I blamed that poor creature.

When I took the necessary exams to enter the U. of Ghana, I managed by God's Grace again to gain admission. I was admitted as any other Ghanaian to that hallowed institution. I was also assigned a hall and I chose the Mensah Sarbah Hall as my resident area, even while I lived on the campus in a temporary housing with my beloved. (Clean your mind, I mean my husband!)

When a Rastafarian heard that there was a Jamaican living in Legon, and one who was married to a Ghanaian, the good fellow took counsel from himself and came to visit me unannounced. Didn't you know that word, “malicious words” spread like wildfire that I was courting a stranger man and it was the most disrespectful thing the residents, students and faculty members had ever seen? Mi deer, I had a warm and miserable time in Ghana.

But, again, my perspective and outlook as well as my in-look isn't like other Jamaicans for when I was just a wee lass in Kingston, I had always seen Jamaica as a speck, just a tiny dot in the scheme of God's Great world and desired more to see many other countries and to enjoy the peoples that I would see in those "hoped-for" places.

It's not that I hated Jamaica, no. I just saw Jamaica as a looking-out point to the greater continents and isles of the Kingdom of Almighty God. Why I had such a perspective as a young girl is only God's Own Wisdom and Knowledge.

In my case, it could be because I was raised with a foster family during my formative years in Kingston. But again, I had a series of “foster mother’s” not because I was incorrigible, no. My biological mother was being helped by wealthier friends or sought their help only because she began to have her children very quickly, one after another. We are all eight with two half-siblings! I have only one brother! The “esquire!”

When I was not hoping to travel to places, I lived in places all about the world, vicariously that is, by reading books and then by listening to our Short Wave radio and hearing the babbling confusion that was called foreign languages. The more I heard such languages, the more excited my spirit became for I felt almost as if I was right next to the speaker.

It's no wonder I didn't grow up to seek to learn or study to be a linguist!

Then again, I remembered how much I lived and hoped on the country of Quito, Ecuador! During my tween years in Kingston, JA, I had an Uncle; a family friend really, who while he lived alone in Kingston as the consummate bachelor, he would often listen to Trans World Radio.

Bwoy! Yea maan! [Jamaican talk] Mother Vita G’s SW radio really wet my appetite! I marveled all over Quito, Equador then! I romped around that country many times over! But at this point, dear reader, you are probably judging me as one crazy woman!

Well, to each his own as the proverb goes. Oh, if it was not for my biological mother, I never would have made it for five days in Ghana.

Mother Hyacinth Daisy raised me when she had me in her tenement home for visits during school holidays --- with many African proverbs.
I can't tell if mother really understood all of those proverbial sayings, still; we were not allowed to ask questions, only to “see an blind, hear an deaf.” In other words, we were conditioned more to heed or obey and observe Mama’s words.

Today, I am more at ease in my spirit with my Ghanaian husband and our only manchild, a son, even now an adult.

My beloved and I have been married now for thirty-one years going on thirty-two and more, if God Spares life.

And I enjoy loving my beloved and my imperfect thick-accented professional academician and researcher, as well as a consummate world traveler! I allow him to travel where ever he wants, providing that God will Make a Way out of none.

And we’ve both seen that Almighty God always Makes A Way or Opens His Doors and Windows, even Offering us wide pastures of opportunities, when we trust and obey Him. Harmony comes no other way, and peace comes no other way.

We are Christians, but even as I state this, there are gradations in our natures as Christian Holy-Spirit-Filled individuals or children of The Living Lord God.

It was an eye-opener for me to marry my husband. I learned so much more that I never knew about my heritage, about myself and about Almighty God and His Attributes like that of "being a DELIVERER" to any child who will trust and obey Him.

Nonetheless, I thank Bro. Kofi's wife, my Jamaican sister for her thoughts on the African cultures, the where-with-all and the spirit of a West African, namely the Ghanaian.

By the way, when I finally did see Ackee trees in Legon, they were infested with soldier ants and the fruit of the Ackee was the size of my thumb nail. They were ripe and fell to the soil profusely. It was a miserable sight all the same, to see the soldier ants taking refuge under and over and within those Ackee trees. The greater sadness for me at the time of the Ackee infestation on the Legon campus was more due to the fact that the trees were in the botanical gardens!

Worse that my “Ghanaian uncle” also was a botanist and to observe the gardens in such a condition was enough to make me want to run for an airplane to get away from the area for good. No human being was able to stand within a foot of the trees. It was as if I had landed in hell.

Ghana is filled with wonder like that mountainous wall leading up to Aburi. The route to Aburi reminded me of the Wall of China! It was one treacherous route going up, and up and up and around the winding narrow road to get to the city of Aburi and the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
When on the day we visited the area, I was unable to enjoy an African Dance Performance for my fretting on how we would make it off the mountaintop and how safely we would be able to drive on that narrow road back into Legon.

Here and now I give Mr. Nick Opoku praises and God's Credit to his race and to the Jamaican nation for being a wonderful host and historian to us while in Ghana! Mr. Nick Opoku is married to a fine Jamaican woman who has built her own elementary school there in Tema.

Another fine Jamaican woman I met while in Ghana is Mrs. Monica Nelson-Coffie. Sister Monica had created a Children's Library in her home in the Teshie-Nungua area of Accra. That much love for children and for their mental development is all God's Wonder and Grace.

Specific Negatives Not Only In Myself Or Others, But In Tiny Creatures . . . Then again, I waged a momentary war with the mosquitoes! I was unable to Stand still to get to know anyone, save my trotting in place and fanning myself Or shadow-boxing to keep the mosquito with the Malaria parasite from biting me. When one cruel mosquito did take a bite for some of my blood, the evil critter chose to land directly on my vein not far from my ankle. How it bled! How it itched! How I became thoroughly sick from fear and fright and total sinfulness of my disbelief that God would Protect and Keep me safe!

I came close to losing my life three times there in Ghana! After my third Experience with maddening illnesses and mysterious seizures, it was my very last straw of faith-living in Ghana. I wanted out and I stayed upon God for His Deliverance. Did God Deliver us? That’s something the dear reader should pay to find out. But a number of eyes and hears and minds have already heard that story, that “Good News” of our “Out of Africa” experience. God can do anything but fail. And remember, God never can make a mistake!

Since we serve an "All-Knowing God" it was not lost on us when Brother Nick Opoku, a Community Affairs Director at the time, treated us to a video viewing of Meryl Streep's "OUT OF AFRICA!" God Knew that He was going to "Offer us" such an experience, but ours would be built or created on a spiritual and supernatural heritage, a continuum of His Grace.

Well, I can feel somehow satisfied in that some of my fresh experiences of Ghana are documented in a doctoral dissertation by a Negro American scholar, and anthropologist who represented Cornell University and who made it her work to interview as many Jamaicans as she could find living in Ghana at the time.

Just now I am in transition and a trans-Atlantic transformation.
What is this you ask? God, my readers, God Knows it all.

If you really want to learn about any country, study the natives and live awhile in the culture and folklore of the very natives of the country you hope to visit or to live.

Ghana is a wonder! At least I was able to understand some complex parts of my own Jamaican psyche and upbringing, just by living amongst the Ghanaians and learning to receive them as "The Apples of God's Eyes, as well as God's Own dear ones.

Thanks for taking your privileged time to read about my thoughts while living in Ghana.

Countess Ann
annla@yahoo

Carol Ann Avorgbedor-Laing
Aug 28, 2010 7:24pm [ 2 ]

August 28, 2010

The essay above by the Jamaican woman who is married to a Ghanaian man is interesting! Naturally, I didn't share all her assumptions but some of her observations were on par.

On sister's observations on the Ghanaian allegiance, I didn't quite see things in her fashion.

On confrontation and challenge, I definitely did not see this nature in the Ghanaians I had observed while living as a Jamaican/Naturalized American in Ghana from Summer 1986 to December 1989.

And I would not presume to speak for Ghanaians in general. Nor would I speak for Jamaicans as a whole.

All I know now is that while living in Ghana, although I felt "landed" --- "comfortable" "grounded" and well settled in my spirit. And if I had only remained in one place and made myself invisible, then I would have been a mass of harmony and peace in that great country! I was not. I was one mass of fear, anxiety and mistrust. I had been deeply assaulted with that self-embedded fear long before I reached the Continent. My woes actually began in the plane over Europe and then one through Cape Coast all the airways into Ghana. At one point, the pilot contemplated landing the plane to see if I needed to get medical help for my pulse was gone, it was not to be found! Is truth stranger than fiction? Beloved reader, God Knows Best!

Yes, as a Jamaican/American woman living in great independent-minded Ghana, I still was one mass of fear-embedded and foul-reported structure of the female form. My life was not normal in Ghana at that time, in that era.

Foul reports dogged me at every turn in Ghana! If I went to the marketplace, I was not allowed to touch a stack of fruits or examine anything with my fingers or with my eyes. If I was going to stand and stare or just loiter with indecision, I was cursed and told to get going or worse, looked upon as someone filthy and lewd. Never underestimate the annoyed eyes of a Ghanaian market woman!

Language I learned is one unifying theme in anyone’s arsenal of peace!
But even so, in Ghana I observed that certain languages are preferred and certain ones despised.

What language was I to learn? I was confused and miserable to find out. And since I love art, language and beauty, when I heard the languages about me, the only languages I really loved were the languages spoken by the peoples of Northern Ghana!
Their speech was art to my ears!

The Asanti-Twi, or even the Akwapim Twi and the Ewe language seemed more like a quarrelsome language to me and so I never wanted to learn either of those languages. And I did not find much difference with the Ga language either.

But the reader can deduce if I was acting in my outlook of bias.
Perhaps only a psychologist would give me anything clear here.

Foolishly however, I opted to learn French and wished I wished I could have learned Hausa!

I learned by listening to the English-speaking natives that Hausa is the language of commerce. And how! Most all our Stewards and washermen were all Northern Ghanaians, Many spoke Hausa fluently. Also, the Hausa from Nigeria and other Northern Islamic countries often passed through our campus dwelling, just so they could trade in their wares and gain better prices from visitors and foreign people who lived on the campus.

Of course, the Good Lord Knowing what is best for each of His children, “Knew His Wisdom and Ways for my life,” and so it was on a fine day, I was informed that I would have my French-instructed lessons no more.

My first French instructor took flight and had to leave Ghana on a scholarship to Spain. It took no time for me to replace my French scholar with yet another fine French speaker from our campus church.

The two French instructors who won scholarships to Spain were also students who studied some Spanish, or so I imagined.
The good word about them though was that they had to go over to Spain for their studies.

Again came another negative in my case. God’s Wisdom took preference a second time, and my last and only contracted French instructor also was called away, having won a scholarship to the said-same country, Spain.

I was sad for myself, but happy for the two lads for whom I rejoiced that they were able to get on to the next journey in their “Purposes” in God’s Plan for their lives.

So I lost out on learning that beautiful French language, did I wither and die? Not a chance! I carried on and trusted God mightily in Ghana for His next “Movement” in the waters of my life.

Nowadays in the U.S. if we want to learn any language, we have a product called Sharon Stone, one of the best language courses I’ve been hearing about recently. Yes it’s costly, but what is good for us is usually costly.

While I lived in Legon, my husband had some wealthy family members in Makola Market and in the general center of the city of Accra. One Uncle owned a Petrol Station. One relative traded by traveling to countries like Hong Kong, Lagos and other exotic countries in Africa as well as in the U.K.

And I didn’t like it that I felt as an ants [small and insignificant] in Ghana!

I was poorer than a tree sloth in Ghana, especially after I had to withdrew from the university and no longer received a stipend while I took classes. Incidentally, I had to work for my university stipend!

While our family members lived with the German currency called 'Marks' and the British pound sterling, we labored to count our cedis and straighten out the creases or taped the tears in our Ghanaian paper cedi currencies.

I praise God for one humble but righteous, not self righteous but “humbly righteous” cousin in Ghana who came often to my comfort. That was Cousin A…. She came to Legon and taught me a simple but powerful song. It went something like this: “Brighten the corner where you are/ brighten the corner where you are…… It was all the cure I needed to feel put back together again, and to receive God’s Healing Balm to steady me for His Great Deliverance out of West Africa.

It was only a few nights ago while in my Quiet Time of Study and Reflection with my Lord and my God, that I learned one of God’s Greatest Lessons!

I learned from a verse in the Proverbs this: “THE CURSE CAUSELESS SHALL NOT COME!” Oh, what a Grace to learn such truth!

What I really enjoyed while living in Ghana was to get away, run even --- into Accra’s downtown area, just to be free of the smugness I felt on the Legon campus. And though I enjoyed visiting the U.S. I. S. Library, I found the place too jam-packed with souls in order to hear myself think or to hear God’s Voice in my spirit. Every student in Accra filled that U.S.I.S. Library then.

Imagine when the university was closed down for a commotion called an ‘Aluta’ what really happened in Legon then?

Imagine then that great American institution of a library, how filled-up it was with students seeking anything, refuge, information, companion, anything!

The commotion on the Legon campus was my last straw! After that, I prayed mightily for God’s Deliverance from that great Continent.

And where was that smugness concentrated other than on the campus? It was concentrated in my own spirit, from fears and misinformation about the entire Ghanaian culture as verses the Jamaican culture.

I even met one person that resembled my own father to a tee!
The gentle soul had Dad's bone structure to the very form and function of his being! When I inquired of the gentle elderly fellow who also shared my maiden name, he wanted to help me with more intelligence, but he was too busy a man, too important a man and too much "sought-after" in his own personal community and surroundings so that I learned not a stitch in time about my heritage, or my father's namesake; or how folks with Daddy’s surname found themselves in Ghana. The good elderly man tried. He really tried. When he sent me to consult with some of his relatives in the Cantonments area of Accra, I went. However, I was made to feel that unless I brought something valuable to the table, I was not going to get one iota from any of the males or elderly females in the large household.

But feelings are never a true register of truth! Feelings are only an impression. Our feelings can also be an illusion.

And what is impressed upon us whether verbally or non-verbal, isn't always valid, isn't always truth.

A Despised Institution Or Mainstay In Ghana . . . I found that the system of bribery or "dash" was very limiting to economic progress in Ghana.

I had so many negatives about Ghana that I was my own worse enemy!

And my negatives about Ghana embodied not only that nation, my negative connotations regarding Africa also included Nigeria.

Just the whole Continent of Africa was off-limits to me since childhood.

This negative growth about Ghana and Africa as a whole began in me during Civic classes in my Roman Catholic Primary School in Kingston. We were shown TV images of the Biafran War in Nigeria and I might have seen those images once too many times! Or, I may have heard a careless and strayed negative report about the birth of the African nation so that I cared very little for that part of the world.

I never wanted to recognize Africa at all, more too on account of the negative reports of the Nyah men and Rastafarians who lived in Kingston, a people who seem to elect to be outcast and a nation unto themselves.
I never understood them. They preached to those who were not Rastafarians or Nyah men and women about being more African.
There always were negative comments or put-downs to women for appearing to be non-African or simply not African enough, by the way in which the a woman's hair was processed.

In Kingston during my times living there, I always was wary of the Rasta and the Nyah men! One humble and quiet Nyah man was a neighbor in one of the tenements where my biological mother lived! He and his wife had many children. Still, I never understood him and was genuinely afraid of the man and his wife.

With the Rastafarians of the sixties in Kingston, one never knew if they'd offer a whipping to a neutral passerby, or, whether one would deliver a sermon on being all African, a pure African. Many old-timers of my time rebelled in Kingston for this outlook in the Rastamen.
And though a constant tension mounted in Kingston with that sect of individuals, it was somewhat only a silent tension. It was never a rebellion by the masses in Kingston to mount a rally against the Rastafarian belief systems, no. Even when Haile Selasie came to visit Jamaica, the word spread like a Christmas sparkler that the Honorable Haile Selasie said something to the effect that he hoped God would Bless the Jamaican people. All this was said while the crowds thronged the airports and housetops just to get a glimpse of a man whom many Rastafarians believed was their 'savior' and King!

After the visit by the Ethiopian Emperor, a number of Jamaicans began to view the Rastafarians in a negative light, in a light that they were a law unto themselves and that they were to be ignored. Lord help the young girl or a young boy who made out as if they were going to have their hair in dreadlocks then! But here, I've said too much and I didn't state this to put down any of my people. There are good and bad in every country.

So, essentially, Africa in my mind was full of misinformation and distrust.

First of all, I learned that what I was lacking was a tour of some of the other cities in Ghana.

My husband is from the Volta Region and when I was taken there, how I felt as home! How all my fears melted, once the "Good Lord" brought upon me a deep sleep in my deepest during my most dreadful fears, a time when I was to get on board in a tiny but shallow boat to cross over a wide lagoon to get to my husband's village! I never thought I'd make it from my seizures of self-embedded fears, but by God's Great Grace, I made it when I was "literally and figuratively put in a deep sleep" until I reached the spot where I had to be awaken to get out from the "special" "God-Glorifying little boat."

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention yet another mysterious experience I had in the Volta Region. When I was awaken by the boatman and by my husband, as we reached the sands on the shore of the lagoon, I looked around with wide-eyes, a look as if I was seeing for the very first time. A virgin vision, it seemed. What I saw no one will understand nor will any reader completely comprehend what I observed. I looked beyond the boat at the vast plain of caramel-colored dirt and white sand, and though it seemed to me as if what I saw was a Land Rover driving in the sand dunes, I watched just that.

Where the Land Rover came from, is not something I can answer.

Was there another road that the occupants of the Land Rover took that we didn’t know of? Perhaps. Anyhow, I watched the scenery with the moving Land Rover and did watch until “I perceived the vehicle to disappear.” Did the Land Rover disappear before my eyes? Or did it take a declining route or a downhill drive? God again Knows all things.

To my virgin eyes, the Land Rover disappeared instantly before my eyes!
I did not bother to question anyone. I took hold of my lesson that Ghana was filled with such occurrences, some as mystical as the moon.

The only other mystical moment that I experienced with my very eyes and also with my body was of course the Ackee Tree in purgatory or hell and also the Rain Tree on the Legon campus. The huge homes of the soldier ants wasn’t a mystery to me for I had long ago observed such ant homes in history books. Now if they attacked me, that would have been a mystical experience, but I’ve gone a tad bit ahead of myself here.

I was nearly attacked by fierce shiny black and brown ants, ready for the protection of a resident on the campus, or else, ready for war full blown! Never in my life had I ever envisioned gazillion ants, all swarming to and fro, digging deep and emerging high, very slowly. And to look at them under a moonlit sky, the whole citizen of them shone!

But I am being too easy on my experiences in Ghana. Didn’t a black baby snake found himself a cozy shelter in our lawn chair, which we had stored under our bed? The poor hot and bothered snake felt too hot and he climbed into our window air conditioner duct or through the vents and found a refuge. Who can blame the poor snake?
At the time I was in shock and fright, and even then, I blamed that poor creature.

When I took the necessary exams to enter the U. of Ghana, I managed by God's Grace again to gain admission. I was admitted as any other Ghanaian to that hallowed institution. I was also assigned a hall and I chose the Mensah Sarbah Hall as my resident area, even while I lived on the campus in a temporary housing with my beloved. (Clean your mind, I mean my husband!)

When a Rastafarian heard that there was a Jamaican living in Legon, and one who was married to a Ghanaian, the good fellow took counsel from himself and came to visit me unannounced. Didn't you know that word, “malicious words” spread like wildfire that I was courting a stranger man and it was the most disrespectful thing the residents, students and faculty members had ever seen? Mi deer, I had a warm and miserable time in Ghana.

But, again, my perspective and outlook as well as my inlook isn't like other Jamaicans for when I was just a wee lass in Kingston, I had always seen Jamaica as a speck, just a tiny dot in the scheme of God's Great world and desired more to see many other countries and to enjoy the peoples that I would see in those "hoped-for" places.

It's not that I hated Jamaica, no. I just saw Jamaica as a looking-out point to the greater continents and isles of the Kingdom of Almighty God. Why I had such a perspective as a young girl is only God's Own Wisdom and Knowledge.

In my case, it could be because I was raised with a foster family during my formative years in Kingston. But again, I had a series of “foster mother’s” not because I was incorrigible, no. My biological mother was being helped by wealthier friends or sought their help only because she began to have her children very quickly, one after another. We are all eight with two half-siblings! I have only one brother! The “esquire!”

When I was not hoping to travel to places, I lived in places all about the world, vicariously that is, by reading books and then by listening to our Short Wave radio and hearing the babbling confusion that was called foreign languages. The more I heard such languages, the more excited my spirit became for I felt almost as if I was right next to the speaker.

It's no wonder I didn't grow up to seek to learn or study to be a linguist!

Then again, I remembered how much I lived and hoped on the country of Quito, Ecuador! During my tween years in Kingston, JA, I had an Uncle; a family friend really, who while he lived alone in Kingston as the consummate bachelor, he would often listen to Trans World Radio.

Bwoy! Yea maan! [Jamaican talk] Mother Vita G’s SW radio really wet my appetite! I marveled all over Quito, Equador then! I romped around that country many times over! But at this point, dear reader, you are probably judging me as one crazy woman!

Well, to each his own as the proverb goes. Oh, if it was not for my biological mother, I never would have made it for five days in Ghana.

Mother Hyacinth Daisy raised me when she had me in her tenement home for visits during school holidays --- with many African proverbs.
I can't tell if mother really understood all of those proverbial sayings, still; we were not allowed to ask questions, only to “see an blind, hear an deaf.” In other words, we were conditioned more to heed or obey and observe Mama’s words.

Today, I am more at ease in my spirit with my Ghanaian husband and our only manchild, a son, even now an adult.

My beloved and I have been married now for thirty-one years going on thirty-two and more, if God Spares life.

And I enjoy loving my beloved and my imperfect thick-accented professional academician and researcher, as well as a consummate world traveler! I allow him to travel where ever he wants, providing that God will Make a Way out of none.

And we’ve both seen that Almighty God always Makes A Way or Opens His Doors and Windows, even Offering us wide pastures of opportunities, when we trust and obey Him. Harmony comes no other way, and peace comes no other way.

We are Christians, but even as I state this, there are gradations in our natures as Christian Holy-Spirit-Filled individuals or children of The Living Lord God.

It was an eye-opener for me to marry my husband. I learned so much more that I never knew about my heritage, about myself and about Almighty God and His Attributes like that of "being a DELIVERER" to any child who will trust and obey Him.

Nonetheless, I thank Bro. Kofi's wife, my Jamaican sister for her thoughts on the African cultures, the where-with-all and the spirit of a West African, namely the Ghanaian.

By the way, when I finally did see Ackee trees in Legon, they were infested with soldier ants and the fruit of the Ackee was the size of my thumb nail. They were ripe and fell to the soil profusely. It was a miserable sight all the same, to see the soldier ants taking refuge under and over and within those Ackee trees. The greater sadness for me at the time of the Ackee infestation on the Legon campus was more due to the fact that the trees were in the botanical gardens!

Worse that my “Ghanaian uncle” also was a botanist and to observe the gardens in such a condition was enough to make me want to run for an airplane to get away from the area for good. No human being was able to stand within a foot of the trees. It was as if I had landed in hell.

Ghana is filled with wonder like that mountainous wall leading up to Aburi. The route to Aburi reminded me of the Wall of China! It was one treacherous route going up, and up and up and around the winding narrow road to get to the city of Aburi and the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
When on the day we visited the area, I was unable to enjoy an African Dance Performance for my fretting on how we would make it off the mountaintop and how safely we would be able to drive on that narrow road back into Legon.

Here and now I give Mr. Nick Opoku praises and God's Credit to his race and to the Jamaican nation for being a wonderful host and historian to us while in Ghana! Mr. Nick Opoku is married to a fine Jamaican woman who has built her own elementary school there in Tema.

Another fine Jamaican woman I met while in Ghana is Mrs. Monica Nelson-Coffie. Sister Monica had created a Children's Library in her home in the Teshie-Nungua area of Accra. That much love for children and for their mental development is all God's Wonder and Grace.

Specific Negatives Not Only In Myself Or Others, But In Tiny Creatures . . . Then again, I waged a momentary war with the mosquitoes! I was unable to stand still to get to know anyone, save my trotting in place and fanning myself or shadow-boxing to keep the mosquito with the Malaria parasite from biting me. When one cruel mosquito did take a bite for some of my blood, the evil critter chose to land directly on my vein not far from my ankle. How it bled! How it itched! How I became thoroughly sick from fear and fright and total sinfulness of my disbelief that God would Protect and Keep me safe!

I came close to losing my life three times there in Ghana! After my third Experience with maddening illnesses and mysterious seizures, it was my very last straw of faith-living in Ghana. I wanted out and I stayed upon God for His Deliverance. Did God Deliver us? That’s something the dear reader should pay to find out. But a number of eyes and hears and minds have already heard that story, that “Good News” of our “Out of Africa” experience. God can do anything but fail. And remember, God never can make a mistake!

Since we serve an "All-Knowing God" it was not lost on us when Brother Nick Opoku, a Community Affairs Director at the time, treated us to a video viewing of actress, Meryl Streep's "OUT OF AFRICA!" God Knew He was going to "Offer us" such an experience, but ours would be more on a spiritual and supernatural heritage, a continuum of His Grace.

Well, I can feel somehow satisfied in that some of my fresh experiences of Ghana are documented in a doctoral dissertation by a Negro American scholar, and anthropologist who represented Cornell University and who made it her work to interview as many Jamaicans as she could find living in Ghana at the time.

Just now I am in transition and a trans-Atlantic transformation. What is this you ask? God, my readers, God Knows it all.

If you really want to learn about any country, study the natives and live awhile in the culture and folklore of the very natives of the country you hope to visit or to live.

Ghana is a wonder! At least I was able to understand some complex parts of my own Jamaican psyche and upbringing, just by living amongst the Ghanaians and learning to receive them as "The Apples of God's Eyes, as well as God's Own dear ones.

Thanks for taking your privileged time to read about my thoughts while living in Ghana.

Countess Ann

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