Freedom

Happy New Year TWA fans! I had a nice relaxing holiday at home with the family and had an adventurous new year and am now figuring out what I’m doing for the upcoming semester and summer. Just thought I would share with you a little blog post I’ve been meaning to right for a while and am finally writing it after talking to Christina and reminiscing on our months in Ghana together.

I remember this day vividly like it was yesterday. When I think about this day all the emotions flood back. This was one of the only days in Ghana I didn’t take a single picture or video, and if you know me you know this is a rare occurrence. My camera never left my side except for this sole day.

I had just returned from a 12 hour bumpy, dusty tro tro ride from the Upper West region of Ghana and was exhausted and dirty…yet I had this desire to go into town one last time before I left. I was nearing the end of my trip in Ghana and was leaving the next morning for the capital to spend a few days with friends before going back to the US. I dropped my bags and turned around right back out the door. I did a triple take on whether to take my camera because this would be the last time at the market. I decided against it and just went with my wallet. Like always I walked outside my house and straight into the compound with all my kids. They climbed all over me as monkeys and I checked with the moms to make sure they didn’t need me to pick up anything in town. Of course the kids asked for fruit or candies or a chicken.

Off I went- I walked a mile to the station, took a 30 minute bus ride, spoke in Twi to the people on the tro tro, laughed at what the radio host was saying about using condoms with the old man sitting next to me, walked 15 minutes to the bank, then to the smaller market then to the central market to pick up some fabric (like I didn’t have enough already). I haggled the price of the fabric using the phrases the kids had taught me. Of course the woman laughed at me because I butchered a few words but said she respected me for trying because according to her the white people she met earlier in the day were too stuck up to even say hello to her. I stopped at the lady selling fruit and bought some pineapples and red oranges for the kids because I knew Tina could easily devour five alone. I bought some more beads to make bracelets with and had to stop by the ground nut paste lady to pick up another jar. With all my goodies in black plastic bags I stood at the corner of the street and waited for a break in the traffic to cross. I looked around me. To my right was a woman with a sleeping baby on her back. To my left was a man selling razors, playing cards, and gum all in one basket. Infront of me was a little boy no older than ten with plantains about to go eat his lunch. And I just stood there. I didn’t want to move. In that instant I was free. I felt liberated. I’m not exactly sure what happened but it’s a feeling I don’t want to ever forget. I was half way around the world standing outside a market with people whom I’d never met, in a city that I knew so well, in a country that people had warned me against going to, on a trip that only some dared to dream of. I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there. The cars stopped and I walked across the street to the station to take the tro tro back home. I was traveling all by myself when most warned me never to do so. They said us white people were a target and someone could come snatch you up at any minute and we’d never see you again. I agree that could happen but in that moment I threw caution to the wind and just said screw it. I spoke in Twi and made sure I was getting on the right transit home because the sun was going down and I had fresh pineapples in my bag that would be consumed by 20 hungry children.

I stepped off the tro tro at the station near my house and before I could cross the street there was a tug at my back. All the kids knew me in the village so this wasn’t uncommon but this was a mighty big tug to be just saying hello. I turn around to see Sandra, one of my little girls. When she saw my face she screamed at the top of her lungs and all my other kids come running towards me. I was shocked to see them because they normally are cooking dinner at this time. I guess a few of them were selling water at the station and the rest had come to join them. Again they jumped all over me like monkeys trying to see if I bought anything for them. Every single person at the station was staring at us because here I am with 20 kids running around me jumping up and down, I’m sure it was a sight to see. Hand in hand the chain of 20 walked back to our house and munched on sweet pineapple while reviewing more Twi phrases by candlelight. The mothers asked me again if I was married and said they had some men I could marry in town. I refused but I’m sure they will ask again tomorrow.

The events of the day were nothing out of the ordinary for me in Ghana. I went to the market every week and saw my kids everyday but there was just an ease to the day. It was the first time I traveled to the market alone, yet I walked so comfortably. I knew where I was going and could easily navigate the city some Ghanaians call a nightmare because of all the crooked streets and busy traffic. I was so comfortable in the position that I wanted to be nowhere but in that moment. It’s a feeling I’m constantly striving to achieve again but nothing has compared. Being back in the United States I feel weird and different. I’m just a girl in search of her place in this world.

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