So this week was a good week. Nothing over the top and also no major upsets. But this week also brought on a growth moment that can’t go unnoticed or unsaid. How many times have you said “No” to something that you really wanted? How many times has “No” been the response you’ve received for something you wanted? Well, this week I learned that No is sometimes yes! Sometimes you have to say no to an opportunity and yes to yourself and your worth. We all must get out of the habit of agreeing just because it’s offered. Just because you want me doesn’t mean I want you. Just because you are willing to show attention doesn’t mean I want or need that attention. Just because the job is on the table doesn’t mean you have to accept. Sometimes you have to step away and say no to what seems good to get what is good. I’m charging everybody to get clear on what you want, what you’re worth and say yes to yourself!
I’ve always liked history! Since childhood, social studies/history has always been my thing ya know. Partially because I’m nosey and just like to know random information but also because I like to research the patterns of people. Unfortunately in our American public school system( which I was so privileged to be an attendant of, lol) young African Americans don’t get the full truth and mostly lies. There is no real connection built with the continent and our existence basically starts from slavery. So as I have made a conscious decision to start a life in Africa, it always takes me back to my childhood where I wondered, who were they before slavery? Well, this past week I was privileged to attend the bi-annual celebration and rededication to the Pan-African movement here in Ghana!!! This event was none other than the 25th Anniversary of PANAFEST!
This week was full of events to help you remember, honor, learn and reconnect with the land. So this post is dedicated to my reflection on this festival!
First, let’s discuss what Panafest is: Panafest is an event that takes place every two years in Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa. This event pulls together Africans of the diaspora to commune together, learn with each other, celebrate and reestablish the next steps of the movement. Pan-Africanism is the concept that all Africans no matter where they are located on the globe are connected and should share a communal bond. So this event was the 25th anniversary and really a sight to see. There was music, food, lectures, rituals, tribal chiefs, repats, expats and everything in-between. There were many events but here are a few that really spoke to me:
- MUSA Dance Company: So this group performed a theatrical dance to represent how the Europeans were able to come into land and capture and trade African people. I am a huge fan of dance because I feel that some things are best expressed without words. So this performance really highlighted the emotion and confusion of the time. It also highlighted the civility of Ghanian culture before Europeans. The narrative Europeans had to tell themselves and continue to tell themselves about African people and other people of color is that we are uncivilized, uncultured, lack spiritual connection, etc. But this dance performance spent a great amount of time showcasing the liveliness of Ghanian culture during this time, the structures of government, and the human side of the people. They were not meek, dumb, silly or less than. These were people with full lives, families, a true society. It highlighted the trickery utilized as well as the flaws of a few Africans who participated in the trade of human cartel. It also didn’t shy away from the use of religion to justify and control the people. Overall this was a well-balanced picture, which was refreshing. When we tell our own stories we can provide the balance this dance performance did during Panafest.
- High-Life Music: So Ghana has this music called high life that is rooted here. It’s like go-go is to D.C, house music to South Africa, country and western to the south. It’s full of live instrumentation, upbeats, and dance! Recently the Ghanian community lost one of their high life music legends, so this year they had a whole showcase dedicated to high life! This was an awesome time because I felt like I flashed back to Kwame Nkrumah’s Presidency! I felt the culture, the heartbeat of the people. Really a cool experience to see the elders and the youth really enjoy themselves.
- The Redemption March: One of the most empowering experiences was the march back to the door of no return. As a woman born in America but proudly African, this was magical. Many people left those shores in Ghana never to return. But see the way God is set up, no man can interrupt his plan. The blood of my ancestors runs through me. To walk to that castle, enter it as a returnee standing on the backs of all the blood sacrifices of my people can not be described. What man meant to be a door of no return, God dismantled when all of these beautiful black people walked back through the doors of that castle. The street was filled with Africans native to Ghana and those who traveled far and wide to return. We all marched with white candles with an ancestor in mind, even if you could not call them by name. Dressed in white WE RETURNED. That night was full of song, dance, spoken word, words of encouragement and more. As the waves of the Atlantic ocean crashed against the castle wall as they have done for generations I am sure this time the footprints that left them were pleased with the ones that entered that night, Ase’.
- Emancipation Day/ The last bath: This was a great day! Literally all the elders, local chefs came out for emancipation day! In addition to the royal show down, there was this needed grounding moment at the slave river where our ancestors who were marched from various parts of the country and beyond came to take one last bath before they entered the castles. So in this river I washed, I gave thanks for their sacrifice, did a bit of grounding and smiled knowing I am the dream of the African who was boarded onto a ship so many generations ago.
Overall, I felt renewed in my purpose in being here in Ghana and really ready to continue the charge, leaving a footprint my ancestors will be proud of! What footprint will you leave behind?
So I did it! I packed up, said farewells and made that trip back to the motherland! This time Ghana. Now I know some of you may be thinking well didn’t you do that before? Like, what did you call your experience in South Africa? Honestly, as a black American woman, South Africa was nice but West Africa has a different feel. I feel more connected to this space, I see the commonalities in this space far more than South Africa. So here it goes…Week1/2 reflection!
Akwaaba! I have heard this more than a few times since I arrived but never before explained to such depth as my neighbor Mr. Baidoo explained. He says it has much deeper meaning besides welcome. He says it’s more of you have returned, now you are home, now you can root, you are welcomed because we are one. So I love that version and I’m sticking to it! And his sentiment is fairly common here. It had come to my attention that Ghanaians are very comfortable with foreigners. They immediately switch up to English for you once they realize you don’t understand, they are very helpful, and honestly, don’t pay you much mind in regards to your differences. However, they will hike the price up. I found myself a little frustrated with this but then again, who can knock the hustle. A sister friend of mine gave me a quick lesson in Twi before I headed out one day and that has increased my negotiating skills! Well, at least it has helped me get a correct price in a taxi and not the foreigner price. By the time they realize I don’t speak Twi fully they have already quoted a price! Yay, one tally for the American girl!
As some of you know, unlike my Peace Corps experience I came to Ghana to an empty home. Most places here come completely bare. No appliances, no light fixtures, fans, etc. So I had to hit the ground running! I have spent my time thus far just purchasing the things I need for my bedroom and kitchen. I’m holding off on the hall(living room) until a later date. Now, this all should seem easy and quick if you have the cash but oh no my dear it is not. THE RAIN halted a lot of my progress the first few days. It’s currently rainy season, which basically means downpours when and where ever. I must admit it does have a cleansing feeling to it. It definitely helps you sleep like a baby. Well, unless it’s raining as hard as it did my second night and I thought someone was trying to break in only to find the rain! Anyway… People don’t move with purpose in the rain here. It’s almost like the old folks in the south when it rains and they make you sit down. Well, it’s similar to that. People will wait until the rain slows down before they move and because of that many of my deliveries were delayed. In addition to that people don’t just deliver to you because you ordered, they wait until they get a few orders in the same area and then they come. So it’s best you live in a populated area so you can quickly get delivery. And when I say deliver I mean for furniture, water, etc.( yes I have to have my water for my home delivered. Don’t worry I will do a whole vlog post on water supply later).
I currently don’t have a car here in Accra and honestly speaking don’t really want one for now because I would be terrified to drive here. The rules of the road are…non-existent. But there is plenty of means to get around here. Tro Tro vans, taxi, Uber, private car, friends, neighbors! You will get where you need to go, and I have gotten around easily but for a price! Now the cool thing is that the taxi’s will do anything and go anywhere for the right price. I had my bed frame delivered by taxi. They broke it down, strapped it up and put it back together at my home. Amazing! I have found it funny that whenever I buy something that needs assembling, wherever I buy the people are ready and willing to travel to me and do just that. No more that 30 cedis. Now I will say I did have to wait for lights out(this is when the power shuts off for no reason at all,again another seperate post) to end before they installed my fan, but the response time was immediate.
A few ladies from Peace Corps South Africa were here as well so that definitely made me feel a little at ease. We were able to hang out and club over the weekend and I got to see a different side of Ghana. Previously on my other trips, I came and hung out with Ghanaians strickly. Not much interaction with other repats or expats. This time I have met both and I see the benefit of both circles.
All and all it’s been good! Still transitioning, finally started work this week and really excited about all that is unfolding. Until next time yall!
Are you attached to the outcome? When you entered that job, relationship, etc did you expect a certain outcome? For most of us the answer would be YES! We have been taught to set goals, achieve those goals, don’t accept no as an answer, work till you see results, PRODUCE, PRODUCE,PRODUCE! Our acceptance, appreciation, and value has all been tied up into outcomes. As a teacher I have sat in many meetings where we have discussed measurable goals and outcomes. It’s almost sickening how we analyze people with numbers. We as a society have EXTREME ATTACHMENT TO OUTCOMES ISSUES! So this week when I was faced with disappointment I had to sit down and ask myself, what are you really angry and sad about? The answer was alarming! I honestly was not upset with the rejection, I wasn’t sadden by the removal of this person from my life in how I had known them. I was hurt by the realization that my intended outcome would not be.
My attachment to the outcome almost stole my joy.
In my mind I had expectations that had not been established from the beginning. I had outcomes I was working towards, but neglected to make sure the other person shared the same vision. I was so focused on the outcome that I forgot to enjoy the journey. As a result I put pressure on the situation, so much so that I forced the person into a choice that didn’t lean in my favor. Instead of practicing gratitude and being thankful for the present moment I idealized the potential future. I couldn’t even appreciate the time spent because of my extreme attachment to the outcome.
Once I realized that outcome would not be, it clouded my judgment of what is.
I know I’m speaking to someone right now, silently suffering because they are so full of disappointment, anger, shame, guilt, sadness because of the attachment to the outcome. Breaking out of this way of thinking is a daily choice. I spent a few days out of it, but today I CHOOSE TO BE AT PEACE! God( however you define the ultimate source) has given us all choice and today I CHOOSE TO LET GO OF OUTCOMES AND ENJOY THE BLESSINGS OF THE NOW!
Right here, right now I accept that “pointing the finger is the way you deny that you have had any involvement in the experience. It is the way you deny your power”~Iyanlya Vanzant
I’m taking back my power. I will not succumb to blaming another person for me not making my expectations known, or for them choosing something different. I can’t control the outcome and I’m over trying.
Currently surrendering. What’s for me won’t miss me.
A tired soul
My journal pages are my conversations with God! The other day I was writing out my thoughts and feelings on my recent disappointments. I had a few moments when the negative thoughts were reigning supreme in my head. I asked God what do I do when the ache in my heart won’t go away? What do you do when you can no longer hide behind the numbness of it all? God what do I do when I can’t seem to practice what I preach? And literally in the midst of my conversation with God the thought crossed my mind…PRACTICE GRATITUDE. In the midst of life’s disappointments, practice gratitude. So immediately in the middle of my rant to God I shifted gears and began my blue gratitude. It happened like this: Today I am thankful for…
-my ability to always bounce back
-my sista Asha
my sista Tuyeni
-the dedication of my parents
-the opportunity and means to travel
-my love for people
-my ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel
-my self awareness
-Beyonce, Rihanna,Mama Erykah Badu, India Arie
-a great book
-my dog Kenzie
-making it through August of last year without a mental break down
-staying sane after all the shit I’ve seen
-my new found love of self
-my ability to be vulnerable
-being able to type this post
-and so much more
So today or whenever you are feeling blue, try practicing blue gratitude! Let’s start now, Today I am thankful for…
This just landed on my heart this morning and I called my sister but she wasn’t available so I figured why not blog it out.
Keeping hope alive for an inconsistent negro(man) will kill your essence as a woman!
I don’t know how else to say it.
When we as women hold space for the possibility of reunion we ultimately kill our own light. The is no “act right” in the world that you can muster up for a man to want to be or do what you need from him. Genuine love, care, and concern are intrinsically motivated.
I firmly believe we as women have done too much coddling of grown men and not enough nursing of your own heart. Often times I have ventured off into the realm of being a savage just to find my broken heart waiting on the other end. Instead of holding out or keeping hope alive, how about we fix our hearts. All that time we spend trying to get him to see us for who we are we can spend re-polishing ourselves so that the shine/the light radiating off you can’t go unnoticed. Women spend so much time trying to be seen. Trying to get someone to notice our value that we don’t take the time to sit and refurbish the diamond. All diamonds when you pick them up out of the dirt look crazy! They don’t shine, they don’t catch your eye. But when you spend the time cutting off the excess, crafting the perfect shape, polishing it up, it then becomes worth something.
Let’s take that time ladies, invest in yourself and not in the waiting game.
Been there, done that, never again!
“I’m alone but I’m not lonely, comfortably indulging, and trying to get to know me. I’m just and outline of what I use to be, constantly evolving, steadily revolving.”
The decision to pick up my life once again and relocate to another country was surprisingly easy and freeing. It didn’t take much coaching, my thoughts were not flooded with doubt and fear. For the first time, I feel this is exactly what and where I’m supposed to be. For the past few months, I have really taken on the mentality that this is my chance to create my life. Let the adventure of it all take me and groom me into the woman I am but never knew.
“I am CONFIDENTLY LOST! I don’t need you to find me, you don’t define me. Cause I’m not hiding anything.”
“Made up of hope and meditation, love, imagination, water my creations. Baby it’s amazing, all the days I’m facing, nothing seems to phase me.”
“Thinking about where I’ve gone, where I’m going. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thinking about where I’m from, if I belong there, but I wouldn’t change it for the anything.”
And to those questions I say… I love my family and friends but sometimes you have to step away in order to grow. It’s like the bird in a nest anticipating it’s first flight. Nobody but you can teach you to fly. When you step out of that nest nobody but God is there carrying you in the wind, guiding you through your innate knowing of how to fly. The catch to it all is that you have to step out there. This is my stepping out. I have never felt more at peace anywhere else in the world. My body loves who I am in Ghana, my skin glows, my confidence is high, I literally have a physical manifestation of the spiritual favor this place has on my soul.
” I wouldn’t change it for the world!”