The people we met-Ghana 2014

People in Ghana thisafropolitanlife.com

Every time I asked Ev how he found Ghana, he gave me a generic response, “it’s cool.” I wished he’d give me more. But I didn’t push.

One evening, close to the end of our vacation, we shared the backseat of a trotro together, Ev and I. The windows were all the way open; warm, moist air forced its way in and fanned our faces. We were headed into town. The night was abuzz with excitement. We were hand in hand, drunkenly content in the moment. I wanted to know if he could feel what I was feeling. If he could put into words everything I felt about our stay in Ghana over the last week and a half. I asked him the question again, and this time he said, “I feel comfortable here.”

I understood what he expressed, completely. It was exactly was I was going to say, except I couldn’t find the words for it. The heat, the language, the wit, the people, the food…it all seemed so familiar. So deep-rooted. So comfortable.

We went to Ghana to visit with family. My parents, Ev’s grandmother. We especially wanted to see our grandmothers since we hadn’t seen them in so long. We wanted the girls to meet them too. But in between those visits, we met up with people who gave us their unique perspectives of Ghana. People who made our trip extra special, people we will always remember.

Our grandmothers

Ev and his mom made the trip up to Kumasi with Ellie. Olivia and I didn’t go, because Olivia showed us she was boss on the way back to Accra from Cape Coast; after her performance on that two-hour drive I decided against taking her on the 4 hour (with ended up being 6 hours) ride to Kumasi. We stayed in Accra.

Evs Grandmother

I wish I went. It was a sad homecoming to say the least, and I will share in a later post. Below is us with my triple OG grandma Grace you see her suckin’ on a lollipop? Ellie had met her once before in America, but she was little. Olivia has never met her-her namesake.

grandma Grandma GraceI spent a day with my grandma. Just me. I took a bus out to Elmina and hung out with her. We looked at old pictures and reminisced about the past. We ate and visited old stomping grounds like her beach bar. At the end of it all, as we said our goodbyes, and I let her familiar voice wash over me, I realized that this could be the last time I heard her soothing voice. My grandma’s voice. I held her and felt her skin. My grandma doesn’t like to cuddle or kiss but I kissed her anyway. Then I started crying, (no wailing!) on her shoulder. I told her I love her. I hugged her to hide my swollen face. She hugged me and kissed me back. And told me she would be right there, and that nothing is going to happen to her…I didn’t believe her.

We said our goodbyes again. I got up and caught her dabbing her eyes. My grandma doesn’t cry. I didn’t believe her; she confirmed my suspicions.

I walked out the front door and I didn’t look back. (I’m tearing up as I write this post)

***

My Parents:

The girls spent lots of time with their grandparents too. My mom and dad thoroughly enjoyed their time with Ellie and Ollie. They played makeup and made paper hats.

ellieandGrammyGhana2014 funwithGrandpa

Aside from Grammy and Grandpy, Ellie enjoyed playing with Kojo, who lived with us and Nshell, my adopted sister’s daughter. Nshell was like a third daughter, All three of them loved each other and got along. Slow at first for Ollie, but eventually she came around:GhanaTheGood44 GhanaTheGood03

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nshellGhana sistersI especially enjoyed my adopted sister’s company. Naomi has been there since day one. She is doing so well for herself and I am proud of her. I am so thankful that she is there in Ghana with my mom right now since I’m so far away.

Old Friends

I even met up with some old friends! Delores from middle school (I had dated her older brother-remember the letter?) and Saddique, from 6th grade. I had just moved to Ghana and he was my closest friend. We sat next to each other in class and I think he had a crush on me. One of those, I’m-mean-to-her-because-I-like-her type relationships. He burned my right cheek with a candle in class one day and he’ll never live that down. My mom marched into the school demanding to be allowed to burn his cheek right back! It’s funny how my mom was just telling Evans this story the night before I ran into him at Cuppa Cappuccino in Airport Residential Area:

oldfriendsGhana

In Ghana I had an uber fashionable aunt. Auntie Anne. She was my mom’s friend and I ADORED her. From her amazing sense of style, her uncanny wit, the way Twi rapped off the tip of her tongue with the same perfection as the queens English, to her carefree silver VW Golf. It was a hatchback, and I wanted one too. Can I tell you that the first and only car I bought for myself is a hatchback too? A scion TC. I bought it brand new as a college graduation gift to myself.

Anywho, my super, amazing, fashionable, Public relations extraordinaire auntie Anne (Asantewaa) took took me to the art museum, Christie Brown and SunTrade the accessories boutique. Isn’t she gorgeous? I swear she doesn’t age! Anne Sackey Ghana

Anne from 100 years ago. See, she doesn't age!!

Anne from 100 years ago. See, she doesn’t age!!

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The most special people I met on this trip, have been dead for a long time now. My ancestors, my great grandmothers, came to life thanks to my grandma, who shared old pictures with me. I’m am so grateful to have my history intact. I came back with a few old pictures that need restoring. Here’s one of my great great grandmother Mary.

historical africans

These are by no means all of the people we met, just a few of the ones that stood out. The highlight of it all, was finding ourselves through the lives and stories of others. Ev and I will never be the same…or maybe we will:

sillyUsBlackLove

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Where we visited in Ghana

We visited Accra, Cape Coast, and Kumasi on this trip to Ghana (Can you tell I’m planning future trips already? Hahah!)

Accra has changed so much since the last time I was there. It’s a busy, bustling city with modern streetscapes and cool buildings that tower over updated highways a.k.a. the George Walker Bush Highway.

GeorgeWalkerBushHighwayGhanaDespite the name, I loved zipping up and down the highway from Oyarifa (we could see the mountains of Aburi from our front porch) where we lived into town. Evans got to drive a couple of times too.

Two weeks were just enough time to fit in a dose of adventure everyday with a couple of downtime days.

Our first night set the tone of our visit. We attended a swanky wedding at Ghana’s it hotel: Movenpick. Can I say, this hotel may rival the four seasons? It is seriously top of the line architecturally and interior design-wise for any standard. It was nighttime and these are iPhone pics, so forgive the graininess:

MovenpickHotelGhanaI saw lots of people I recognized, knew and went to school with. It was a fun night! The food was amazing and there were about 400 people there! Evans and I both saw a different side of Ghana that night and began to crawl out of our preconceived notions of what we knew and believed about Ghana. We had never seen the young, hip, urban, swanky side before. We didn’t fathom it existed.

Evans really bonded with the kids at my parent’s school. This happened within the first thirty minutes of us arriving at Manieson Christian Academy; kids just seem to flock to him–like Jesus. He reminded me of a peace corps volunteer.

ManiesonChristianAcadem Ghana School Children

ManiesonChristianAcademyGhana GhanaTheGood62

 

The day after the wedding was my beautiful friend Nana’s birthday. I met up with her briefly at this raw vegan lounge called Kaya. It is a VERY beautiful serene place that serves raw vegan food like sushi, wraps and pink-tinted raw coconut water and cocktails made with raw ingredients. Delish!
KayaLoungeGhanaThe next day we were off to Cape Coast and Elmina. The scenic coastal drive:

Cape coast GhanaWe stayed at Coconut Grove for the night and we had some nice peaceful time on the beach away from the hubbub of excited family members. Some time to catch our breaths and indulge in an air-conditioned room:

coconut grove ghanaThe historic Dutch Cemetery across the street from my grandmother’s house in Elmina. It’s were the colonial dutch are buried, above it is the Catholic school/convent my great great grandmother Mary, and my great grandmother Janet attended:

Dutch Cemetery, Elmina GhanaApaa Essiffie is our ancestral home:

ElminaDutchCemetaryGhanaGramsdel J is my grandmother’s beach bar in Elmina, on the ocean facing the historic Elmina Castle. “Gramsdel J” is an acronym for each of my grandmother’s eight children and her mother and grandmother. I have fond memories of this place and I was happy to see it again:

elmina Ghana
elmina GhanaBack in Accra, we went up the mountain we woke up to each beautiful, warm, morning and visited Aburi Gardens. It was my first time. The kids LOVED this place, it was cool and shady–Olivia broke free of my arms and ran through the park looking at amazing trees, plants and flowers. Looking at nature like this one has to believe in God.

aburi gardens ghana GhanaTheGood13

AburiGardensGhana

AburiGardensGhana2I visited the infamous Christie Brown studio in Accra. It’s a small studio and I was the only one there that afternoon so I got to try on everything in the front and back of the house!

christie brown ghana designer

Ghanaian designersThen I went to SunTrade. An accessories shop owned by a Hungarian lady who is an African bead connoisseur. She is exhibiting at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art as we speak. She was leaving for D.C. the same day I was returning. I got to meet her and she was so excited to learn that I interned there. Her work is simply amazing! I had to leave the store in a hurry to avoid buying everything!

GhanaTheGood74I also visited Omanye House that day. A three level art gallery that housed sculptures, and beautiful fine art. I wasn’t supposed to take pictures but it was so amazing that I had to sneak one in:

GhanaTheGood76 Omanye House Ghana

The view from inside the building:GhanaTheGood77Lastly the night scene in Accra is happening. We visited many places in Osu, and others but most notably there is an afropolitan event that happens often hosted by young, urban, hip returnees. This one was at a swanky boutique hotel called Villa Monticello. The vibe was buzzing with natural hair, glowing skin and live music by a sister who could SANG. She crooned Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley and a couple of her own songs along an acoustic guitar:

afropolitanlifevillamonticelloGhana

We went to a posh hookah bar called Sheesha Lounge. I couldn’t tell if I was in Miami or Ghana.SheeshaLoungeGhanaRepublic was my favorite though. Right next to my favorite banku joint, Dunkins. Republic serves cocktails with crazy local ingredients like grain alcohol (akpeteshie)–the hard stuff–like moonshine–that puts hardened farmers on their backs. But Republic did it right with amazing mixes and an afropop vibe to match!

Republic Lounge GhanaWe had a blast together. In between each destination are stories just waiting to be told. I’m afraid I’ll be talking about Ghana for a while on the blog. But I’m sure that’s what you want to read about anyway…if not, let me know in the comments.

That’s it for now, look out for part 2; the people we met.

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