“I belong in Africa”: African-Americans going ‘home’

Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios
Sankofa. Image: Damiyr Saleem Studios

By Marije Maliepaard        The Ghanaian ethnic group of Akan is (among other aspects) known for their Adinkra symbols. Symbols that represent concepts and are often connected to proverbs. They are used in African fabrics, clothes and pottery and nowadays also in logo’s, advertisements and wall paintings. One of their symbols of a bird stretching back to get an egg, named Sankofa, has become an important representation for Africans in the diaspora. The combination of the symbol and the associated proverb ‘se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi’, which translates to ‘it is not wrong to go back for something you have forgotten’ embodies precisely what returned African-Americans feel: a desire to return home, to the soil of where their ancestors were taken from.

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“Playing gives experience” – a fieldwork photo blog

IMG_2368By Tessa Gruijs            For my Master’s research I went to Ghana. In cooperation with a local NGO I got access to a couple of primary schools. There I interviewed and observed many teachers about their experiences with the work of this NGO and their perspectives on (improving) the quality of education.

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The reality of race: fieldwork experiences from Ghana

Millicent, one of the staff members of the hostel where I stayed, and I.

By Marije Maliepaard     Recently my Colombian friend and I were talking about being white in a country like Ghana. I told him I had never been aware of my ‘whiteness’ until I got to Ghana. In reply he said “of course you weren’t aware, you are part of the majority in your country”.

We silently continued our walk along the main road in Accra as I pondered his comment. I broke the silence and said, “It’s not only me being part of the majority but I just don’t see it. I don’t recognize people as being black or white.” He firmly said: “That can’t be true, no one is colorblind! Do you see those people approaching us? You see they are a woman and a man, you also see if someone is black or white.” I thought about it and said: “I don’t register it all the time, when I see people I don’t consciously think that is a man or a woman, or that person is black or white.” He finally saw my point which made me happy because I was starting to think that maybe my views on this differ from the view of others. Lees verder

Gay in Ghana en het homofobe media-offensief

“The practice is alien to the Ghanaian.”

Door Rhoda Woets. Op dinsdag 12 maart 2012 toog een woedende groep jongeren in Jamestown, een visserswijk in de hoofdstad Accra, gewapend met stokken naar een woonhuis. Het gerucht ging dat op deze plek een lesbisch bruiloftsfeest gaande was. In een bericht over het oproer gaf de krant The Ghanaian Times niet aan dat het slechts een gerucht betrof: zij publiceerde dit als een fait accompli. Niet de gewelddadige jongeren, maar twee vrouwelijke gasten op het (naar later bleek) verjaardagsfeest, werden “uitgeleverd” aan de politie en brachten de nacht door achter de tralies. Een van de boze jongeren, in The Ghanaian Times aangeduid als een “anti gay activist,” zei tegen de aanwezige journalist: “Their activities are depriving us of women. Anytime a man decides to go after a woman in the area these lesbians will pounce on him and beat him up. ..These women use money to lure young girls into this bad habit and deprive us. It must stop.” Het geweld tegen de onschuldige vrouwen werd door de journalist niet veroordeeld. Hiermee kwam de krant haar lezers, waarvan het merendeel homoseksualiteit associeert met Sodom en Gomorra, tegemoet. De rel in Jamestown is zomaar een greep uit één van de “alledaagse” berichten in Ghanese kranten waarin homseksualiteit wordt neergezet als bedreigend, en geweld hiertegen wordt goedgekeurd.

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Fieldwork 2010: The Lingering Field

Anna-Riikka Kauppinen reports from Ghana regarding her research on beauty centers. This post is part of the fieldwork 2010 series.

Shea butter is warming up in my hands. I rub my palms together in order to dissolve the waxy texture into a soft and glowing substance. Akosua, 3 years old, is sitting still on the bed. I start applying the cream over her tiny body. First come the shoulders, neck and back. She raises her hands so that I can rub the armpits and stands up to let me work on the belly, buttocks, tights, legs, feet and toes. Lastly, I gently rub her cheeks and forehead.

Fieldwork could be compared with what Virginia Woolf calls balancing between “moments of being” and “moments of non-being”. Lees verder

Financial Crisis Worldwide (5): Sakawa Money in Ghana

Detail of Sakawa calendar


By Marleen de Witte

In the streets and homes of Accra, the impact of the global financial crisis appears slow. Analysts say this is due to the weak integration of the largely informal local economy with the global financial market. But this is not to say that people do not experience financial crisis. Lees verder