“Africa is more than wars, pot-bellied children and mud huts.”
SWIMMING UPSTREAM: The Ghana, Barbados connection
I am forced to revisit my pilgrimage to the ancestral home of the majority of Bajans, Ghana.
Why am I doing this?
The decision was prompted by a call last Friday night from a 78-year-old woman. She reminded me of my privileged position and responsibility to readers.
Therefore, I am going to share some things which the mainstream media have failed to share or have not shared enough on this African country located south of the Sahara.
Ghana achieved independence in 1957 under Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
The Portuguese were the first to arrive and they named the place where they settled as the Gold Coast. That became the name of the country until independence in 1957 when it was changed to Ghana. The Gold Coast had been among the wealthiest and most socially advanced areas in Africa boasting schools, railways, hospitals, social security and an advanced economy.
Under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana adopted some socialist policies and practices. He created a welfare system, started various community programmes and established schools. The capital of Ghana was moved from Cape Coast to Accra by the British in 1876. Ghanaians come from six main ethnic groups Akan, Ashanti and Fanti, the Ewe: Ga-Adangbe, Mole-Dagbani, Guan and Gurma. Its current population stands at 23 million.
I have said before Barbados has always had a strong Ghana connection not only in its ancestry but through the work of lawyer Vernon Smith who served as a judge and the late Thomas Padmore a political advisor to Nkrumah.
Padmore was a person of Barbadian and Trinidadian parentage after whom a library in Accra is named and whose ashes are interred in Ghana.
Still, there’s another connection. Local delicacies such as conkies and cou cou are eaten there daily. You will also find guttaperks on sale in the market.
And, no exaggeration, as you move around you will see faces that are as familiar as those you see on Broad Street.
In fact, who do you think runs the four-star Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi? A very hospitable 38-year-old Barbadian.
It’s hoped, just as it’s every Muslim goal to visit Mecca, it will be every Barbadian’s goal to visit Ghana and experience the hospitality and love of his or her sixth or seventh cousin.
Africa is more than wars, pot-bellied children and mud huts.
• Kammie Holder, the boy from the village, thinking… Why burn snails when we can eat them to extinction?
This article also appears in The Nation: The Ghana, Barbados connection