15. An African American Soft Parade.
On the way back to the hotel, I’m sitting in an old Datsun hatchback, marked as a taxi. It may or may not have had seat belts, my windows are down. It’s about 3am. It’s warm, I’m very drunk and loving the warm wind blowing through the car. Riding through the city I start to wonder if I could actually live in Accra. I was asked a few times by locals the days before in random conversations. I always replied that I would know by the end of the trip. While knowing that I’ve only been to one African country, with what I’ve experienced so far I think I could live in Ghana for about 3 to 6 months out of the year. Or maybe another African country? Who knows?
Everybody has heard a Black person say that visiting Africa feels like visiting home. I think it’s because all of the unspoken rules of Blackness apply in Ghana. It felt like I was experiencing some of the origins of Black American culture. At the same time I could see the impact of Black American culture everywhere; plus everybody speaks English. It wasn’t hard for me to adjust at all. I was really comfortable, even with it being so humid. The only thing I had a problem with is that native Ghanaians talk with what seems like the lowest possible tone before a whisper. They aren’t loud at all. They are all “soft talkers”; even when they have to be loud. When they talk, I could see they said something, I know I heard it for sure, but somehow they speak so softly it’s like the words faded into dust by the time they reach my ears, so I’d often be unsure of exactly what was said.
I do like what I’ve seen of Accra and Ghana. It seems like a place that’s about to step into the future. It feels like a place that could be any American city, except I didn’t notice any solid gang activity, the police seem cool enough, no “systematic oppression” and no crack that I’m aware of. I’m not saying that Ghana is some kind of paradise. The Lakers don’t play there and there aren’t any marijuana dispensaries on every corner. There might not be anything like that on the entire continent. But it does feel like a soft asylum for African Americans. I think Ghana would get a lot more African American tourists if they found a way to turn that into an ongoing marketing campaign.
With all I’ve learned in the past 6 days, combined with all of the things I’ve learned on YouTube, I can see that African American history and culture is only 20% of the African story, if that. It definitely means something, but there are thousands of years worth of history that came before the Portuguese decided to pull up to West African shores. I need as much of the other 80% as I can get. Every other group of people in the world have the other 80%. I feel like the closure I got has given me a hunger for the history that was taken from Black people in America.