an African city: The Ghanaian identity

an african cityOne of my all time favorite web series is an African city. This is a story of 5 women who have returned to an African city, Accra, Ghana after living abroad for so many years. The story centers around what they’ve learned as returnees, how to live a life with new rules while in Ghana. Nicole Amarteifio the creator touches on several topics such as love, sex, employment, cultural differences,religion etc coupled with extremely funny moments, which makes the show quite entertaining.

here is the link for season 1: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnAfricanCity

season 2, episode was released on Sunday and its on that episode I want to write about.

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Nana Yaa the main character after being abroad since she was 6 returned to Ghana at the age of 29, if I remember correctly. Upon her return, naturally she had forgotten how to speak the language but understood it. In the previous season, she was “twi’d”- when someone knows you don’t speak your native tongue, here, twi, and purposefully speak it with you to shame you- so in this season, we learned than she has been taking classes and can now speak, but still with an accent. Which her “lovely” cousin, Adoma made sure she knew.

I want to focus on Adoma. She had been in the states for 7 years and is the new returnee to the group. Upon her arrival, she wanted to go eat street food and hang out at the local spot, but to her surprise the other girls took her to a “westernize” restaurant to eat salmon. Adoma made comments about the girls not doing Ghanaian things and not being Ghanaian enough and being too westernized which they found insulting and rightfully so.

This episode with Adoma really hit home for me because I too have struggled with not being “Ghanaian enough.” After moving to the States, I lived in a predominately white suburban neighborhood. There were about a handful of Africans at my highschool and none at my middle school, which means I was forced to communicate with other people besides Ghanaian. And as most of us know, we are a product of our environment. After a while I started joining Ghanaian youth groups at church and that is where I learned my native tongue, twi, was not good enough coming out of my mouth, that I sound funny when I spoke it, so you know, I should just stick to English. But when I spoke English, I was told I sounded “white.” I was called “obroni,” which means white or foreigner depending on who you speak to. I learned I wasn’t Ghanaian enough because I didn’t eat certain things or because I listened to certain type of music and so on.

For a while it bothered me because to me, I was Ghanaian, I am Ghanaian and I didn’t know what they meant by being Ghanaian enough.

My sophomore year in college, I read a book by Kwame Anthony Appiah called In my Father’s House. (I actually haven’t finished reading the book, I don’t think I will ever finish it, but . . .) In the book, he talks about the Ghanaian identity and how it has evolved and how certain practices aren’t REALLY GHANAIAN but we’ve adopted it us our own nonetheless. For example, children carrying the fathers last name or women carrying their husband’s last name. Today people will swear a woman is westernized and not Ghanaian for keeping her own last name, but that practice never belonged to us in the first place.

I learned from that book among many others I read at that time of my search for identity that, identity is very fickle. Identity isn’t set in stone, it is ever changing, and no one is ever enough of anything, cultural wise. We live in an age where we are exposed to a variety of cultures, no matter what corner of the world people are, I am convinced people are experiencing different cultures from their own daily, either on a large or small scale. People are experiencing something different than what they’ve known or know.

So I may not be Ghanaian enough, but I am enough and that’s just okay.

If you do check out an African City, let me know what you think and if you already watch it, let’s talk about. Sade tho!

 

 

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