Last night, I attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of our Independence that was held by the local association. I had a wonderful time!
At first I was upset b/c for various reasons some of my outfits weren’t working (aka missing zippers/too tight/needing Woolite) so I “settled” for my red Christmas ntadae. I was also a bit late, but J and I got there around 7:10ish and were just in time to mill around with the other guests (scheduled start time was 6pm).
It was nicely decorated and normally I would describe it. But really, what struck me was the sense of being among friends. It’s been a hot minute since I last fellowshipped with my fellow Ghanaians.
It was so nice to hear my mother tongue, to eat good Ghanaian food (banku, okra stew w/ beef, boiled plantain w/ spinach stew, jollof and shito), to hear Ghanaian music, to see Ghanaian clothing, to see Ghanaian people and to be welcomed as one of them. Dude, how important is it to feel like you belong somewhere? INCREDIBLY. There are some people who denounce their cultural connections in the light of the not so great aspects (everybody all up in your biz, jalosie, drama etc) but having spent much of my younger days blossoming under the constant care and guidance of my elders; I’m a bit nostalgic and quite frankly, NEEDY.
I need to be around my people from frequently. I need to be around people who are like me–at least in names, facial structures, understanding of the world. Granted, there are some w/ whom I am sure I would take an immediate violent dislike if I got to know them better–but thankfully that has YET to happen to me–no wait, there was one, back in college, but that dislike took some time to develop.
Losing Mommy meant that I lost a lot of my connection with my culture. It meant I had to resort to establishing those connections versus having them established for me. I’ve spent years (almost 8) drifting from my cultural base but at the same time needing it so very much. Needing something real, something ancient, something in the blood. That’s where it’s at. It’s in the blood. It courses through your spirit–your sense of togetherness, of commonality, of a certain degree of understanding.
Yeah, I often have to explain that I AM actually Ghanaian (‘actually’ is such an overused word, on par with ‘really); that I do understand Twi, that I am not all American…sigh…but that’s for another day. While I have to deal with that, the advantages are at times, greater than these disadvantages.
Understanding has always been important to me. Probably one of the reasons I went into psychiatry. But it’s become more crystalized as I’ve gotten older. I love people–I love their energy, their humanity, their intriguing lives but I also know my limits as far as extending myself to others (thank You Jesus for Your Understanding and expression of love through me!) I know that I don’t always seem as enthusiastic as I may want to be, or be as bubbling as I could. I know that I’m getting more and more settled in whom I want to confide in, in which electrons I want close to me, less desirous of meeting all and any newcomers; in fact I’ve become very attached to my friends (many of whom are family to me). Nothing inherently wrong in that; but with that comes this deeper need to be understood.
Sometimes a soul gets weary of explaining: herself, her name, her culture, her life. Sometimes a soul wants to taste the food that she ate when yet entwined with that of her mother. Sometimes a soul wants to dance to a rhythm unmistakeable from that of her own. Sometimes a soul wants to bask in the warmth of an Auntie’s smile without the sharp pang of remembrance of a Mother’s death. Sometimes a soul wants to be guided, to be held, to be told that it’s okay. Okay to cry. Okay to dance. Okay to love. Okay to laugh. Sometimes we all want to be watched over, cared for, cosseted and protected. Sometimes we want to go back to the womb.
Maybe that’s what being with other Ghanaians does for me? Brings me to a place of beginnings; where I understand the way it’s supposed to be instead of trying to shape a world that is….