I visited the University of Ghana at Legon to set up workshops for their dance majors and had the privilege of speaking with the head of the Dance Department, Mr. Oh Nii Sowah. I left our conversation glowing….
He told me he grew up learning about the transatlantic slave trade as a part of his education here in Ghana allowing him to understand the cruelty African men and women suffered for centuries. Now, he said, schools have erased this from their curriculum and it’s leading to a damaging misunderstanding about their brothers and sisters living in the African Diaspora.
While attending a university in Oakland, CA he was curious to hear about the Black American experience. Along with fellow Ghanaian students, he sat down regularly with Black Americans to hear about injustices against them through unfair pay at jobs, police harassment and brutality, a biased judicial system, attacks on the black family…the list went on.
In Ghana, he often saw Blacks painted as lazy, violent, and unnecessarily making things about race. After these conversations, he realized that not only is this far from true, but that the same “Master Puppeteer” is also actively working to destroy prosperity in Ghana and other African countries.
After I spoke to him about the police violence our communities are (still) experiencing in the U.S. he urged for Black Americans to come and visit Ghana. Often people say that they don’t want to visit because they think that Ghana is poor, he said. On the contrary, he argued. Here it is so rich. Here you can come, rest, and can be seen for all of your humanity. Here you will leave rich with the knowledge that you matter.
It was then my tears welled up. I am very proud of my heritage and yet it was healing to hear “I matter” from someone who hadn’t lived my Black American experience but still clearly understood. I didn’t have to argue, shout, or yell. He made the decision to understand.
Below are pictures of the beautiful University of Ghana at Legon’s campus.