BY TONY KWAME ANSAH, JR.
I, Tony, was born outside of my parents’ country of origin, Ghana. Therefore, I’m a second-generation child of African immigrants, which is roughly one-fifth (18%) of the overall black population in the U.S. In other words, a first generation Ghanaian-American. We all have unique stories to tell. Well, here’s mine to share with you. Enjoy!
As a child of American Immigrants from Ghana, I had the opportunity and pleasure to travel and visit the land of my ancestry many times and know of others who have done the same. I went to Ghana for the first time when I was only a few months old, which is probably quite rare for most American infants and toddlers. After this early childhood moment, my parents travelled to Ghana almost every 2 years afterwards and brought me along with them. Some of my Ghanaian-American peers experienced the same and others have never been to Ghana at all.
In between these years of travel and tour, my family had a small convenience store in the USA where they sold West African goods and foods as well as provided other essential services. I recall their being other African stores nearby and out of state too, which was great to see business owners from Africa.
I was a son raised on cream cornmeal finger food, red hot pepper sauce, and silver sardine cuisines who learned how to handle and manage money at a very young age. Not too many fellow Ghanaian-Americans of the 1990s could say the same. But I was able to do so ahead of my peers in elementary school days off campus grounds at Linda’s Market on Mineral Spring Avenue in Rhode Island. Shout out to mom and dad for teaching me how to play monopoly with real money!
Personally, I spent a lot of hours and days at my parent’s store and saw many fellow Africans of different nationalities and other ethnicities patronize our family establishment. I did everything from inventory, cashiering, to depositing funds into the business account of our family operation. My half Ashanti and half Akwapim hands touched and exchanged money to sell products and provide services until early adulthood.
When I was studying history in undergrad school, I got introduced to politics and economics. I read and saw the negative effects that British colonialism in Ghana had on my family tree. Whereby, my parents, relatives and others sought greener pastures in North America because Ghana was in a regressive state, especially in the 1970s and throughout most of the 20th century. As a result, little Ghanaian communities began to emerge all over the Americas, mostly in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.
After roughly 2 years of chewing and consuming African literature, I decided to go study about Africa in Ghana. I was lucky enough to find and join a study abroad program to continue my education about African history and politics. My original plan was to go for 1 year and soak in as much information as possible. However, I stayed longer than expected and was there for 2 years altogether. I must say that I enjoyed my stay for the most part. Meanwhile, wealthy Ghanaian kids born and raised in Ghana were studying abroad at institutions of higher learning in the USA.
During that span of time, I got a clear understanding about the past and present history of Ghana and other parts of Africa too. It was obvious to me that my place of birth was very different than the land of my ancestry. Things that I took for granted like drinking clean water, using faucet water, flushing toilet water, cooking food on stove, heating food in microwave, storing food in fridge, having electricity on 24/7, and so on were all a luxurious privilege in America, but not quite the case in most parts of Ghana.
Although times have changed since I last stepped foot on Ghanaian soil ten years ago, advancement towards many natives enjoying a life full of basic amenities on a regular basis is still lack luster to say the least. Fortunately, there’s a wealthy middle class of high-net-worth individuals and families, but they’re a very small minority.
I look forward to the future when the old guard passes the baton of leadership to the next generation of sharp and smart visionaries. I envision/foresee Ghana and other African nation-states having fully connected, semi connected, or totally disconnected tribes’ home and abroad who are either aggressive or passive about taking strategic action steps towards sustainable solutions. As for me, I plan to be fully connected until further notice. Amen!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony K Ansah, Jr. is a self-published author, a public administrator by profession, and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He is also the founder and owner of Ansah Africa, a consulting and marketing startup established in 2017.
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