July 2, 2010 @ 9:13a
I’m looking forward to the memories of right now…
Golden by Chrisette Michele is playing in the background. It is just a coincidence. I’ve just completed the book How to Love a Black Woman, which in my opinion many parts of the book could omit the Black part and easily be titled How to Love a Woman. Not to say loving all women is the same. It gave me an opportunity to think about the things that I already knew and apply them to particular situations. I was skeptical when first reading it but in the end it definitely did no harm. Three things stood out to me the most. These may be useful for men and women alike. @Professor_Helm used to talk about the first one…
1. Allow your partner to be imperfect. Give space and time for imperfection.
2. Balance criticism with compliments.
3. Stay!!! If it’s worth it, stay.
Enough of that…
We toured Accra yesterday. Witnessed what you would see in many developing countries and even the US. The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. We drove through an open market and saw poor folk trying to make a daily living. The annual income of the average person is about $380 USD, and $2USD/day. The unemployment rate is upwards of 30%. In 1960 after independence the population in Ghana was 6 million people, today it’s upwards of 20 million. Ghana produces rubber but imports tires and you see tire shops everywhere. The country’s textiles are amazing but again, textiles are imported. The infrastructure is far ahead of a Kenya but traffic is ridiculous. Cars everywhere, all imported. The immediate question is why import? Decent infrastructure often is not good enough to manufacture much of these goods. Therefore, they are imported with low tariffs and sold.
The black star on the last post was put up after independence from the English. Hence, the Ghana Black Stars and the black star in the middle of the national flag. We saw the future Black Stars playing futbol in dirt fields. We drove past ‘castles’ also known as slave holding barracks. One student has problems calling them castles, while another says not all were built for the purpose of holding slaves.
I participated in a great conversation with 3 students on the balcony over wine and Joss Stone. They are struggling with and asking many of the same questions, my cohort asked in South Africa. It is a privilege to listen and probe. Students questioned the impact of tourism and our impact on the country, from a macro and micro perspective. As a part of our trip we will be helping a rural school build a library. Sounds nice, right? But one student said we are taking jobs from locals by coming in and building the school so that we feel better about ourselves… he struggled with taking pictures of people on the streets. Some probed about whether or not it is our responsibility as a privileged people to educate others of such a struggle. And we all battled and will continue to battle the balance of such a task. Whose responsibility is it? How can one justify writing or trying to teach about a people that he/she does not belong? Richa Nagar did a wonderful job of balancing these struggles in Playing with Fire. The scholar or “good” scholar will forever fight with these questions.
Someone asked where we would travel if we could go anywhere in the world. One student answered simply, “where everyone looks like me.” Whenever I travel to Africa I know that I am looked at as an outsider. But because of my Kenyan heritage I always feel as if I belong, or I feel a sense of entitlement as a fellow African. But also understand and know that I am mixed blood and recognize my Middle Eastern blood. For some, even with African ancestors, this is not the case. I’m rambling now and not sure if I’m articulating my thoughts in a clear manner, if not, sorry.
To my South African cohort, I passed by a Barcelos yesterday. I will definitely hit it up in honor of you all.
Thank you Sherry and Ayana for forcing me to critically think about the trip before departure. The balancing act. This is a great group of students and I’m excited for the conversations to continue.
Justin and KT, I’m most looking forward to listening!
Later at night July 2, 2010
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