A lot of things have changed since my last post. I don’t even know where to begin.
I was in Ghana for 14 days and it was quite the trip. Initially, I was excited to come to Ghana but after some family issues, I wasn’t excited anymore but made a promise to my grandparents so I had to go. My arrival at the airport was one on the worse arrivals I have ever had at an international airport and I have been to loads of airports. It was disgusting. I was standing in a queue for 90 mins that was barely moving. It was hot, the air was stuffy and bad. Missionaries, pastors, and random religious groups were getting “VIP” treatment. People bribing and paying immigration officers to help them get through. It was appalling.
After standing in the queue for awhile, I began to feel dizzy and my knees were hurting pretty bad. An immigration officer saw me and made me leave the queue and gave me some water to wash my face and took away my passport to get it stamped. I sat there feeling sick for a very long time and I was told to come for my biometrics. After the biometrics I was allowed to go to the baggage claim. If it wasn’t for the immigration officer who saw him, I would have probably have passed out in the queue and ended up in the hospital. I thanked him and made my way outside where I had to wait forever to get my luggage.
“Where are you from?”
“I’m from the United States, Boston to be exact”
“No I mean where are you from, from”
“Okay where are your parents from?”
“They are from Ghana”
“So you are from Ghana then”
“Yes I am but I live/grew up in Boston”
“So why do you not say you are from Ghana”
“I don’t know”
The aforementioned conversation snippet is usually how conversations start with some African people I meet. I recently got into a contentious debate with a Cameroonian guy about the intersectionality of my gay and Ghanaian identity. He asserted that I can’t be a gay African/Ghanaian since its an oxymoron. He said I had to choose one. As in, If I wanted to be gay, I had to stick with my “African American/western” identity and live openly.
I have always had an existential identity crisis growing up. I didn’t know where I belonged sometimes. I was either too “white” too fit in with the “blacks” (I was mostly referred to as an oreo throughout high school),or I was too bourgeoisie to understand the plight/struggles of “African-Americans”. And my favourite was that I was too “westernised” to call myself Ghanaian or African. Include the gay bit and it complicates everything.
As I have mentioned several times on this blog, I wasn’t bothered with my racial identity when I was growing up. Heck I used to select “other” or change my “race” on every standardised test I took. For all my university applications, I didn’t check my race section (I still get a lot of criticism for that as most people claim that it would have enabled me to get loads of scholarship since I’m considered a minority). While I didn’t care about racial politics, I cared about my Ghanaian heritage and Pan-Africanism. I got offended when ignorant remarks were made about Africa or when people called Africa a country. I remember when I came back to the US after spending a few years in Ghana , I was asked by a couple of guys if I slept in a hut and chased lions for fun. I was soo mad that I just gave them deathly stares. Yet I still identify with my “Americaness” when I am outside the US. Every time some asks me where I’m from I say Boston, U.S. instead of Accra, Ghana. Why is that?