Africa is amazing!
Hey, check this. I am sitting in one of several minibuses that has a Jamaican flag emblazoned prominently on the front and the driver is going at high speed, weaving us through long lines of perpetual rush-hour traffic by doing stunts like creating extra lanes on the pavement
designated for pedestrians. And the
conductor, hanging precariously halfway inside and halfway outside, is holding on to the door with one hand, while waving the other hand with folded money between all his fingers and shouting at people on the sidewalk with rhythmic chants that sound like deejay lyrics, as he tries to get more passengers into the vehicle that is already too full. This scene is totally familiar to anybody who knows Jamaica, but this is not Jamaica. This is something that is happening everyday in Accra, Ghana - a place where everything seems almost exactly like Jamaica, just bigger.
make the trip
Yes friends and peoples, I am on a pilgrimage to my ancestral home and writing from Africa. And how does it feel? Trust me, I think I know a word or few, but there are no words in English that can fully describe what I'm feeling, seeing and otherwise experiencing. But I will say this. Every Jamaican, who is able, should really invest in the opportunity of a similar experience. Yes folks, if you can, you should do it. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands trying to buy a visa - legal or illicit - to the USA or UK who don't want us, we should really work at coming home. And if you don't believe me, ask anybody else who has been there. Ghana is home! Everything about the place feels familiar. I promise you it will be more than unforgettable.
Akwaaba is the Twi word for welcome. And everything about this place whispers that word to my soul. The trip so far has been nothing short of magical for me and my travelling brethrens - musician and dub poet Michael St George and writer/performer Mello Ayo. One day, we started out trying to find a vegetarian restaurant and ended up walking into the 10th Annual Veggie Fest, where I also magically met a brother I had seen for over 25 years and whom I was tasked to try and find while here. I visited Labadi Beach, that looked and felt just like Hellshire - with more sellers than buyers, some seeming more desperate though, but all of them definitely more pleasant. We also experienced a powerful evening of music and poetry at a place called Freedom Centre; it is like the epicentre of cultural consciousness and Pan-African activism in Accra. And as I'm sending this, I am in the hills of Manya Krobo region, where we are spending a week for the Ngmayem Festival in Odumase Krobo. Next week, we visit Kumaasi and the Cape Coast.
'Amazing Africa!' Those two words smiled warmly at me from the first tourism and travel promotional poster that caught my eye last Friday, as we landed at the Bole International Airport in Ethiopia. We had just completed the first leg of the journey, which was all of 14 hours and 10 minutes from Toronto to Addis Ababa, and were getting ready for the just-under-six-hours of flight to our final destination, Katoka International in Accra. And my 'peeps', believe you me; after four extraordinary days that feel more like four full months, those two words that first struck me are the words still stuck with me. I know it may sound like a tired clichÈ, but trust me friends, Africa is amazing, absolutely amazing. I honesty really don't know how else to put it. Yeah, I admittedly kind of fancy myself as some sort of wordsmith or 'lyrics man', but when it comes to adequately articulating or efficiently describing the nuanced beauty and power of this enormous experience, words fail me. I am resolute now about one thing, though. Whether for a visit or to stay, more of us Africans in Jamaica need to come back home!