Having been back home in Ghana, doing community service work and touring Ghana with a group of foreign students from Yale, I realize that I have been plagued by a certain paradox lately, and at this very moment I think I can give articulating my sentiments precisely a shot. Here go my personal musings …
I claim to love Africa but I don’t know it enough. I claim to love being African, but I haven’t experienced it enough. I claim Africa as my home, when in reality, I haven’t even been to or explored as many African countries as other countries I have explored in different continents. Hell, I don’t even know the ins and outs of my own nation. I haven’t even explored all 10 regions of Ghana in depth/detail or know the ins and outs of Accra/Tema. It’s a painful reality.
And I say this with all sincerity, and not to sell myself short or undermine my credibility as Ghanaian. In fact, over the course of the foreign students’ stay here, I realized how deeply I knew my country’s history and culture, much to the surprise of other Ghanaians I was with (including tour guides, lecturers, etc.) …and again, I say this in all humility. However, I get this nudging feeling it is not enough…perhaps this might very well be the human paradox of not being ever fully satisfied…
I know all Paris’s 20 arrondissements like the palm of my hand from just a month’s stay there, and took all the métro lines to get around alone. I remember clearly what the interior of Napoleon’s tomb looks like. but can’t remember the last time I entered the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. I will tell you which lines to take to get around with the London subway – perhaps with a few of errors. I have actively visited and stayed (short/long stays) in nineteen (19) US States. By the end of this year, I would have explored my fair share of North America, South America, Europe, borders of Asia and the Middle East. And what about Africa? I have no idea what the countries that neighbor Ghana look like. I have been to only 2 African countries in my entire life (hopefully, according to plan, it will be 3 by the end of this year.lol.)
I must rectify this if I ever have the opportunity to, because living with this paradox, makes everything I stand for in my “Africaness” seem whimsical/unreal.
“Am I being too hard on myself?”, I ask. “Am I being impatient, unrealistic, wishful?”
I mean, am I basing my identity on “how well travelled” one ought to be? Has every American been to all 50 states? Is that necessarily what makes them American?
Of a truth, going to all of these places stands a chance of being more idealistic than practical. Being well-versed in all African affairs seems like “taking it too hard on yourself”, rather than embracing “the fact that you can never know it all”.
But I guess I am scribbling my reflections here to question how one ever comes to terms with being called “an expert” in any given field, “an expert” on any given region of the world, “an expert on any given issue”? From my vantage point, a lot of things seem untenable, but I have been made to believe that you let the imagination ran wild, and by that I mean … just letting it lead the way , just letting the capacities of out imaginations perhaps show us what we are truly capable of, just letting it reveal to us who and what we are truly made of.
There are many questions to be asked, many answers to be sought. Perhaps it isn’t a requirement for every living human being on Earth, but definitely worth the thought.
Perhaps these are misplaced passions, but who knows what they will yield? We may never know now, but I am convinced that this fiery flame of passion has the potential to yield results that will one day surprise me. 🙂