I’m back in the US!
Over the multi-leg, 27-hour trip from GH to Southern California, I slowly realized that I was leaving my home of the last three and a half years. Although many people would assume that America is naturally better than Ghana, I can only say that superficially could be true.
Americans live nomadic existences that can take them to ends of the country. It’s not unusual for an American to travel thousands of miles for work or school. For instance, I was born in Southern California, went to school 120 miles away, then worked in New York for a short while before coming back to LA. Then I returned to NYC for school and work before ultimately going to Ghana. Similarly, I have a friend who grew up in West Virginia, went to college in Tennessee, worked in San Francisco, got his masters in New York City and now works there. Of course, who’s to say that the person didn’t move around as a child because their parents had different jobs? Well, perhaps this is a characteristic of the demographic I belong to…
Wealthier Ghanaians may grow up in Accra or Kumasi, travel to the UK, Germany, or US for school, before returning to Ghana. For most Ghanaians, however, the farthest ambitious Ghanaians will move is to Accra — a 14 hour ride by bus from the northernmost towns. Ghanaians thus spend much of their time with their family. Weekends are replete with funerals, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays of friends and those in your (extended) family. The only people I see in the US who focus as much on the family are the Indians and the Latinos.
This constant search for better opportunities in America leads people to put off having children farther and farther into the future. In Ghana, it’s pretty clear that family planning seems to be a foreign concept. I recall telling a friend how Ghanaians don’t seem to realize that the more children they have the less prosperous they’ll be. Then I asked our taxi driver his age and how many children he had. He was 29 and already had two children. He figured another two would make him complete. Never mind how he wouldn’t be making twice as much money. Nonetheless, I think this faith in God is endearing.
Lastly, Ghanaians are generally happy people. I frequently witnessed children, teenagers, and some adults spontaneously dancing in the street or in shopping centers.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from living like a “Ghanaian” in the US. (How hard could it be to close the street, put out 40 folding chairs, and set up some 4-foot speakers for my own funeral celebration?) One thing most people will not anticipate is why this Asian-looking guy has all these Ghanaian/African thoughts in his head.