Monday, November 26, 2007

Africa Reprise

When I made my trip to Ghana in November 2006, I was filled with anticipation--returning to Africa after a 45+ year absence, seeing our daughter, experiencing another culture.

Upon my return, I wrote a number of blogs on my observations. I was looking back over these blogs recently, and was struck with the dearth of comments. Now, truthfully, I don't write for the comments, but there is a sense that the number of comments is an indication of readership. Since a fair number of comments on my Back to Africa blog indicated an interest in reading my observations on my Ghana trip, I will have to be clever and reprise the information.

So, here goes.

First, as my brother has pointed out in several of his comments, West Africa is NOT south central Africa. I grew up in what was then Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe). These countries are definitely sub-tropical and have distinct southern hemisphere climates. Then too the people in Zambia and Zimbabwe have different tribal origins than the people in West Africa. West Africa probably is the source for most of the slaves who were forcibly brought to the New World. Southern Africa, while it had its tribal wars (I am thinking of someone like Shaka Zulu who re-wrote the rules of warfare in his day), it did not see the level of slave trade West Africa experienced.

When I went to Accra, Ghana, November a year ago, I had immediate first impressions. I had never seen a city with such an incredible level of street vendors, for example. They were everywhere.

The state of transportation left much to be desired in Accra. While there were many taxis, few of them seemed road-worthy. My daughter, who had gone to Ghana in September, 2006, rode some of the tro-tros (see my linked blog) but before she left in December, she decided NO MORE tro-tros. In fact, there had been some fatal accidents involving tro-tros. Of course, transporation in some countries around the world does require a spirit of adventure.

My daughter and I had a couple of priceless experiences during my visit. She had her own priceless experiences that helped demonstrate what the two of us experienced was by no means unique.

As we traveled around Accra, I was struck with the contrasts everywhere. Development side by side with ramshackle structures. Elements that reminded me of my youth in the Rhodesias--dirt roads, for example--side by side with superhighways.

Of course, I came home with an armful of purchases, many of them coming from the Accra Cultural Center.

So, now that I have had a year to contemplate the trip to Ghana--what do I think. Perhaps an obvious result is that I tend to pay close attention news from Ghana. I have encountered Africans from time to time, and try to elicit from them from which country they have come.

The first question many Ghanaians asked me was--how do you like Ghana? And that was always followed quickly by the second question--so when will you come back to Ghana?

The truth is I was much taken with Ghanaians--in general, all the people I met were warm, engaging and friendly. I was much less struck by the country itself--located very near the equator, the country does not have the breaktaking beauty of Zimbabwe.

So, rather than return to Africa, my next trip will be with my husband--this time to the place our daughter is living now--London.


Ruth said...

I was attracted to your blog by your stories of Africa, but I didn't comment back then. Nice of you to "revisit your visit" with links to your other posts.

Anonymous said...

Another Comment: Zambia & Zimbabwe are not the Northern Rhodesia & Southern Rhodesia of the 1950s either. Nor is Africa of 2007 the same as Africa of the mid twentieth century. My first memories of course reach back to the early 1920s. The Africa your mother & I found in 1946 had not changed all that much from what I thought I remembered as a boy, though the winds of change were then blowing. We didn't really realize it until the early 1960s. And now--- those winds have changed to a gale. Of course I tend to follow what is coming out of Zimbabwe. And many times my heart aches and I think of Alan Paton's "Cry The Beloved Country."
Love, Father "C"

Father "C"

Mary said...

I've always enjoyed your stories and revelations about Africa, particularly your upbringing there. You are well educated about the country and can share so much to most of us who know little and will never get there in our lifetime.

Now, let's hear about London when you get there! You must be losing patience waiting to get there to see your lovely daughter.

dguzman said...

I love your stories about your travels!

Beverly said...

Thanks for sending me the posts from when you wrote about Africa.

I returned to Haiti in 2002 after my husband had died, and forty years later, it was so different. I sort of wished I hadn't returned and that I could have remembered it as it was.

I don't think I'll go back, although I must confess I would like to go to Africa still...especially on a photo safari, or something like that.

Anonymous said...

I think you should return to where you lived as a child in Africa and then write about it Donna. Well that's just my opinion because I want to read that story when you do it. O.K. :-) Yup that would be an amazing story and you could take a movie camera and...oh well I will read the blogs on London also.