How do I explain the shift I feel? Or is it just the moon?
Here is a list of my changed perspectives:
- I am a woman who is resisting patriarchy and colonialism. This means I will have to redefine my own values to reflect this resistance. I want to be a spirit in woman form, free to feel any way and not judge myself or others on their life choices. (Never mind my harsh judgement of the Pastors on the ads in Ghana in their poses looking like a Boys 2 Men concert poster... *steups*). Its going to be hard because we live in a society that imposes a norm upon everyone - no one is immune, and its hard to escape the ways we are told to feel about relationships, sex, our selves, physical and emotional attributes. A lot of picking and choosing feelings, a lot of not taking things personal, a lot of suppression of negative self-image and quieting negative self-talk. Its going to be swimming upstream but now I see how necessary it is now.
- Women’s work worldwide is so undervalued. I’ve decided this is my call to action - this is the problem I want to work on solving in my life. In my life I hope to improve the economic inequality that exists for women in developing economies in Africa and the Caribbean. African Women’s Economic Empowerment. I want to expose women to the possibilities of e-commerce and improve digital literacy to increase economic opportunities.
- I must do me. I must live out my dream for me first. I may end up disappointing my family and friends at times because I choose my strange solitude of travelling alone, I choose independence. I’m still negotiating my needs and wants; the things that give my life meaning vs. the things that I want to acquire. I didn't know I could really compromise one for the other until this trip to Ghana. I feel pulled at both sides; but I think I will just breathe.
- It has been revealed to me that my Africanness is up for discussion. Yes I am black, I am of African decent but to many Africans I am not African. Yes I am African, I would explain, my family is from the Caribbean, but some people had never heard of Trinidad or Barbados or Dominica. It hurt kind of, to have to explain myself to anyone who asked, or anyone who called me “Obroni” (Twi word for white person or foreigner), that I came to Ghana to connect deeper to my Africanness, to affirm my Blackness and to belong. I had to take it all the way back sometimes, “Yes Barbados, you know Rihanna right? My ancestors, like hers, were Africans sold as slaves and settled in the Caribbean, and then eventually my parents immigrated to Canada.” It gave me another layer to my identity, like a filter through which to understand my privilege of having risen from out of ancestors who endured slavery to becoming an educated young black woman facilitating entrepreneurship workshops in Africa.
- My eyes opened wider in Ghana. Its a sensation that is hard to explain. I am present, at the front of each moment, so deep inside myself and entirely outside of myself at the same time.
- So many butterflies are there. They move me, the sight of them shifts me from small minded worry into joy, laughing gratitude. An ease in my chest and step.
- I thought that when I had kids I’d start going back to church, because my experience there really was not that bad and there are good values to be had there. Now? Nope. Never me, not again. I see how it has completely changed / adapted African sensibility. As people became enslaved, the bible was used to help them to transition into content servants. In Ghana, every second ad by the roadside is for a church. And the names are all variations of each other: “The Gospel Sanctuary of Christ” or “The Fellowship of Jesus Church” or “The Lamb of God Holy Monastery”. Even food stalls will be called “God’s Way Tilapia & Banku”, or hairdresser’s salon “The Hand of Jesus Braids & Weaves”. How, on a continent with such a rich history of spirituality spanning millennia prior to this day and age, has white Jesus come to be on the side of many Tro Tro buses? At least in Toronto sometimes I had seen a black Jesus, but in Accra, every Jesus depiction was very white, blue eye blond hair white. This matters! The image of the one who gives salvation is a white man? Does anyone else see something inherently wrong with this or am I over reacting?
I think now, who do I think I am supposed to be vs. who am I really? I am observing - my self, my surroundings, my dreams, my desires - Even my goals of a nuclear family home, heteronormative relationship, home and car ownership can be a product of capitalism… I think I have uncovered some things about myself, I like it, and I find it hard to articulate. But I see so much potential.
Special thanks to Crossroads International and Pro-Link Ghana for facilitating this journey to Accra, Ghana and for introducing me to the Obrapaa Women's Group. It has been another fate-felt inspiring connection which has resulted in beautiful art which I look forward to sharing with the world.