Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Farewell to Arms

The work family. I miss them so.

Why is the USA so messed up? I’ve come back to Black men being dead in the streets, assaults in elevators and retaliatory assaults for those same Black men lying dead in the streets. At the same time, there are beheadings of American citizens at the hands of fundamentalist terrorists because of the political stance and interventional actions of the US government. Again, why is America so messed up? Why am I intrigued enough to view the leaked nudes of celebrities who apparently had no complicit behavior in their release? Why is this so sensationalized? When did TMZ become the official trusted source for our news? Why is it that Chicago had 16 murders and 72 shootings during the fourth of July weekend  (“Independence Weekend”)? Where have we lost ourselves as a country? Where has the moral aptitude gone and when was it replace by despondency, complacency and general apathy? We’d rather be entertained by the latest reality craze…”The Real Something of Something or Other”.  I remember my first introduction to “reality” television when ABC came out with the show “The Bachelor”, featuring 25 women lining up to get a chance to be with what I imagine was one of America’s most eligible bachelors. Since then, there have been numerous spinoffs or ideations on how to capture an audience so hungry for contrived reality.  I fondly recollect the days when reality television was the news and it accurately portrayed what has happening in my community.
Why am I here ranting you ask? Good question. This summer, for eleven weeks, I was fortunate enough to spend my time in a country that maintained a fine appreciation for reality in the particular forms or morality and civility. From the beginning of my stay, I noticed the incredible impact religion/spirituality has on the country’s residents. Every district I visited had a visible commonality- almost all taxis/buses had religious sayings on their back windows. These sayings were not limited to the Christian majorities’ beliefs, but also included Islam and Judaism. This was not some one-off where a religious zealot was publicizing his ideology, but a consciousness that exemplified existence. While in Ghana, I did hear of the Chicago shootings and decided to compare them with Ghana’s violent crime- particularly homicide. During a three week period of interest, I managed to find they had 1 murder in the news and the reporting was continuously about the efforts of the police to solve it. Wrap our head around that nugget for a second. The reporting was not only to provide awareness of a homicide, but successive follow-ups on efforts to find the perpetrator. That absolutely floored me, particularly being a NYC resident who reads about /views reports on substantial numbers of murders.
With respect to the highly sensationalized leaked celebrity nudes, I will say this….Ghana had some leaked nudes and when I looked on the site (yes I looked, like a true American), nearly all of the comments were critiquing the individuals for their initial acts of photography/filming. That is a stark contrast to the lustful commentary seen in comments sections for our own leaks. I mean, people are making money off of leaked content in the states, so I personally hold myself at fault for being incredulous at this difference. People have made bona-fide livings off the catapult of monetized sexual imagery. We have to look no further than one Ms. Kim Kardashian-West, whose celebrity was built off of gratuitous exposure of her assets. As a disclaimer, I am not solely limiting this issue to women, as men have a significant hand in this as well, albeit consumer or subject.

So, what is the significance of this post? In a few words…GHANA WAS AMAZING! There are a few moments in life where you can view the sum of occurrences as inflection points. I previously viewed my time in South Africa, a time spent experiencing culture, history and brilliant minds, as one of those life changers that provided me with a paradigm shift and now I have experienced another. The totality of the experience left me wanting more and needing to do more, not only when I returned home but for my duration as a global citizen. I cannot express myself in these limited words, as this would become an extremely long blog post, so I will attempt to relate my experience through visual imagery….ENJOY!

On the plane headed to Ghana

Roommate in Ghana. Also a U of M student.
Housemate who stayed up watching the NBA Finals at 2AM with me.

Hurt my arm falling off a motorcycle my 4th day out there. Still one of the best days I spent there.

Guys I stopped on the street on their way to their daily soccer match. Everyday at 4pm, they were at the field (on the pitch) religiously- rain or shine.

My guy from the Chinese-Ghanaian fusion restaurant around the corner from my residence. Cool guy who, when I told him I would put him on my American blog immediately agreed to the picture.
Movie night with the neighbors down the hall and from the church group.
Ruth. My coworker, mentor and friend.

Mr. Rahman, my unofficial guardian at the hostel/dormitory where I stayed. He made sure to call me when I arrived in the States to ensure my safe return. He holds a place in my heart. Can never forget good people.
Period piece at Ghana Institute of Art. 

Saw this little guy playing ball outside the hostel. Couldn't resist taking a picture and then playing kickball with him.
On the way to church.

Korle-Bu Community Chapel. Mostly medical personnel/families and med students.
On the way to the beach. We had to take a boat there!

In the boat headed to Bojo Beach. This is one of the nicest beaches in Ghana as you can see, hopefully.

Father and newborn at the beach. I thought she was the cutest thing, so it was only right to capture the moment.

Beautiful family spending time at the beach. I must have taken 50 photos of them after having conversation with the matriarch on the far right and playing football (soccer) with the kids and some other folks,
People lining up for gasoline during a government imposed gasoline shortage. All those yellow containers are peoples' gas cans. This was the scene whenever a station announced they were releasing gasoline. Reminds me of NYC a couple summers back.
Pics from the Kente weaving village. Top- Master weaver hard at work. Bottom- Unofficial Boss.

Elephant in the background you say?

The Ga festival in Accra. Celebration of the harvest. The gentleman in the middle is the Ga chief in this district.
Had the opportunity to meet up with the Ghana M-Trek. Go Ross!

Hundreds of feet up in the rain forest walking through the canopy.

This is cocoa in its natural form. This is one of Ghana's primary exports and it tastes wonderful in this natural state. MMMMM....cocoa!
Playing with crocodiles up close and personal in the crocodile sanctuary. 
At the entrance to the male slave quarters at Cape Coast Castle- home of the "Door of No Return". Take note of the plaque on the left commemorating President and First Lady Obama's visit.
Staring out over the Atlantic at the inception of the Middle Passage and the potential grave-site for many who were either thrown overboard or willingly jumped ship to avoid the horrors awaiting them.


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