Passport, check; carrying on, check; give a hug to mom and dad, priceless. There I was hugging my parents for the last time until we would meet again. Never have I traveled alone. As my parents watched me walk away to security, I knew that I was finally growing up. While I waited for my plane, I sat there and pondered where my journey would lead me. A few minutes later they announced my plane had arrived. It was time. I was finally heading back to Africa.
As the glass doors open, and the heat rushed to fill the air, my hands clutched onto my carry on as I finally exited the airport. I scanned the sea of dark-skinned natives. With a smile that shined above the sun and a laughter that was unforgettable, I knew it could not have been anybody else except my cousin, Dosah Akakpo. While greeting me with a warm hug and a soft kiss, he looked at me and grinned. Following not too far behind was my uncle, Kwame De Youngster Jr. We packed my luggage with assistants from the airport into the car. I am finally home again.
As a college student, I wanted to have more freedom to explore the youthful life of Ghana. One of my friends, Papa K’Atakora-Owusu, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, showed me around the town. He would even introduce me to friends and classmates while at parties.
The day grew cooler as we traveled up the high levels of Aburi Gardens. As we drove closer to the higher ground, I could see mansions built on the side of the hills that overlooked Ghana. When we reached our destination, we found a market where wood carvers would sell their work. The carved items were beautiful. A few wood carvers would combine wood and metal pieces to form into a master piece. Other woodcarvers would carver a massive drum that would roughly measure five feet tall.
I had the opportunity to visit one of the most historically places in Ghana, Elmina Castle. The castle was built in 1482 by the Portuguese for trading. Later, it became a place for holding slaves around 1637. Walking through the dungeons, the only thing I could think about was people surviving in the harsh conditions: the size of the room had to squeeze roughly 200 people which left no space to lie down.
We entered another room called “The Room of No Return.” We were so cramped in the room that all of us could not fit. The only light that was provided was a small window that showed the ocean. Once the slaves were in this room there was no turning back. There was a silence in the room that was so loud from the ancestral cries and fears of the Africans that I became still. I will never forget that moment.
Important parts about my trip were the old photos of my grandparents. Seeing the picture of them young brought up so many emotions and questions. They talked about each photo and its importance. Looking through my grandfather’s old photos really gave me the chance to live a moment in his life. Times like this really brought me closer to my grandparents and my family. Never have I had the opportunity to see my grandparents young.
As an educator, my grandfather made it possible for many children in Ghana to obtain a good education. I talked with some of the students at his school, and their respect for their teachers was very positive and their yearning for knowledge was very inspiring. Through my grandfather’s tribulations, he has made it possible for other students to receive an education.
Celebrating the holidays with my family was so rewarding, because there is no one like them. My family is my foundation. My family is my home. Leaving to go back to the states was difficult for me because of what I would be leaving behind, but I know that I will be back. Thank you for everybody who made this trip memorable for me and my family.