I’ve traveled many times to countries where the citizens are mostly Black. In Jamaica most people are Black (except for the Chinese ones which totally baffled me the last time I was there…but I digress…) and in DR most people look like they could be a distant cousin of mine. So you would think in coming here, it would be nothing new to be surrounded by Black people.
But it’s different. These are a people who were never displaced. This is where they are from. And their history is their own unadulterated, unabridged story of culture and ancestry, not a watered down account of the past 200 years (oh and a long trip on a slightly overcrowded boat to America from some faraway place in that big desert/jungle called Africa)
Yesterday we ventured out to do a bit of sightseeing and our last stop was the estate which held the mausoleum of the late Kwame Nkrumah (former President). Though I’m really not big on museums/mausoleums/inanimate objects portraying previous years/history class in general, I could not stop staring at the statues of Ghanaians that were positioned throughout the grounds. You would think I’ve never seen a statue of a Black person. But if you think about it, in the US its not something you see a lot. Unless, of course, its a statue of Martin Luther King. And the statue is nice and safe on the grounds of the King Center. And is open for visits from 9-5. On weekdays. For school children only. Maybe.
But here in Ghana I was enamored by these beautiful statues. Some were decorative – men blowing into horns that would fill with water and flow into the reflecting pool below them. Others captured the rhythm of musicians in mid-song on traditional instruments. But the point is, it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t some huge exhibit that people flocked to in February and collected dust the other 11 months of the year. This was the norm.
This country is Black. And not in an “I’m black and I’m proud” way. They just are. Always have been, always will be. It’s not a movement. There’s no need to make some big and grand statement about it. My play cousin who was giving us the tour told us that one thing he loves about being in Ghana is that you know people treat you the way they do, solely because of their opinion of your personality and not because you are Black. If they are being a jerk to you, they’re just being a jerk to you and not because they have some prejudice against you for racial reasons, because news flash – they’re Black too.
Its a novel and fresh idea to live in a place where your name will never be made fun of because it is “too ethnic”. And people will never make fun of your accent b/c everybody talks the same way. Mothers don’t tell their children to stay out of the sun in fear they will become “too Black”, because being Black isn’t a negative thing. And because it’s not a negative thing, you’ll never hear “Yo mamma so Black” jokes because they wouldn’t make sense.
Yet they do not wear their Blackness on their sleeves here. There are no “Blacker the College” t-shirts or “Blacker the berry” coin phrases. There is no Black History Month nor a “Black Power Movement” here. They don’t need to “Say it Loud” b/c it goes without saying. They’re just Black. No need to write a song about it or sell t-shirts after football games proclaiming it. No need to write a book to analyze it or film a movie dissecting it’s roots. You’re just Black. And Ghanaian. And African. And there’s nothing more powerful than that by itself.