FEELING: OUT OF PLACE
The feeling of being where you are truly meant to be and feeling out of place is a real one. I was born in Old Tafo, Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana and at eight (8) years old, God blessed my parents mightily and relocated us to the United Kingdom for a better life. I have constantly related to the Ashanti culture, if not completely then more than I will admit to myself – in that I talk the talk, eat the food, wear the clothing, jewelry etc. All things considered, my parents are not initially from the Ashanti region and so for a long time now I have been practicing a culture that I have been repeatedly told is not really mine to identify with (to which I mostly concur)
My folks are from two remote villages in the Upper East region of Ghana, my mum being from Wiaga and my father from Siniensi. It is said that where your folks are from and where they were born is your home and where you can discover bits of yourself. At the end of the day, my roots are supposedly there. However, there are a couple of issues with finding my roots here. The most significant illustration is about the language barrier. When my siblings and I were growing up, we lived in Kumasi and we would speak with our folks in Twi (official dialect in the Ashanti region) while they would address us in Buli (the official dialect here in Builsa North) thus now that we are older, we comprehend Buli however have an issue talking it. For our parents, this was a matter of getting us to listen to them and do what they wanted quickly. I don’t think for a second that they didn’t want us to learn the language or thought that it would affect us in this way later on in our lives. Henceforth, one issue is that I can not easily speak with my own kind and so at whatever point I am asked why I cannot do so, I have practiced the line “I can comprehend whatever it is you are saying, I just can’t speak well.” Most of the time that response appears to satisfy those asking and yet I have come to the realisation that for this reason and for many others that I cannot mention, out here I stick out like a sore thumb.
There have been moments where the sentiment of not belonging here has been strong. It happens without warning and typically when I am around others. For example, I went to an occasion in Wiaga where I was to photograph cultural dances and at the occasion I was around the few individuals that I knew and there was discussion and laughter, and I was having a good time … until out of the blue I was mindful of the reality that I didn’t fit in. I wounded up disengaging myself from the group and walking off into the distance to sit alone. In spite of all that I have said, the most comforting thought I have now is that I am not the only one who feels like this, regardless of how intense, frequent and unique it might feel to me. I am not by any means the only one who feels like I don’t belong places, there are tons of us all over the world. However, I am more willing to learn about my roots and maybe someday, somehow I won’t feel like such an outsider among my own people. Wish me luck everyone.