Transitioning into the Ghanaian society has been a series of joy, frustration, countless laughter and raising my voice to get heard. Some people would think being a person from the Ghanaian diaspora would be an easy transition. But let me tell you, Ghanaians will be quick to tell you, you are a obroni, foreigner, or Ghanaian but you are not from here. Coming here, I have had to constantly navigate my identity in certain spaces for safety, manipulation and show those that I am also Ghanaian-Ghanaian. For instance, speaking the language is a difficult thing for me and I really do try on a daily basis to bust out some Twi. Sometimes, vendors and mates would not notice that I have a Canadian accent as I am able to mimic what others say and repeat it back to them to get my point across or meet their language competency. However, taxi drivers would say, “My sister you are trying and you have done well but your Twi is very funny”. For me, that is a dagger and I often follow-up with a “Bra, my Twi is well and you will see me soon Twiing you in circles”. Then there is my family, like I would not dare speak Twi in front of my cousin or else I will be ostracized for how my parents failed at not teaching me their indigenous language. I have expressed my understanding of Twi is well but then they want to come for me and test to see me fail. So I speak my English proud and bold and get my point across or use them as my translator since “I know no Twi” and demand to be spoken to in what I know best. Then, there is another factor, that not everybody in Accra speaks Twi. FYI, Accra is home to the GA people but there Ewes, Fantes various Twi dialects and many other languages you come across daily.
Navigate my identity through language also comes at protecting yourself from Visa-lovers. Yes I said visa lovers. Those that see a beautiful girl who stands out even when she has her head tie, no make up and tattered dress going to buy a bag of water sachet, they will know you are not from here. They just do! Therefore, whenever I am on tros or markets, I tend to not speak a lot or pick up my phone. Once I was on the tro tro and a man was sitting beside me for at least 30 – 45 minutes, quietly minding his business, I picked up my phone to answer a call from my friend in Canada and after my call, he was all over me. Practically begging for my number and saying the common thing most men here say, “I love you”. I had to bust out my favourite Nana Ama McBrown words to make myself clear ” Look at me, and look at you, and now look at me again, I am not your size so I will give you 3 seconds to turn your attention elsewhere before I get really mad”. I know McBrown is ruthless but she gets straight to the point, I am women looking for a man who is on my level, and by level someone who honours their self enough to understand No means no and be able to walk away. But not Ghanaian men, once they hear that accent, they hound you down as I believe, they believe you are their ticket out of this God forsaken place called Ghana and en route to the land of milk and honey we call “abroad” Kai! I rebuke these men from my life. But what that does to my heart is guard it even more and my esteem on falling into meeting ingenious people because of the fact I am different and language gives the claim. But I try to try each day and as I try, I also try to speak with intentions through my English or Twi because it sets the tone that you are not one to fuck with regardless of my struggle Twi.
Nonetheless, the most important thing is for me to asses myself and let myself know that I have come far in Twi in these 2 months. As a matter of fact, I have always been far enough where I can ask for directions in Twi, bargain with the market women and negotiate low prices with taxi drivers. Also, I extend my gratitude to the market women and taxi drivers who give me the patience and continually say “Don’t worry you are here for a year, you will do great”. So I advise those from abroad to get familiar with the local language, or just mimic those around and fake until you make it. Either one works but the most important is to try, it never hurts to try, you will amaze yourself through laughter, anger or appreciation for developing a culture of willingness in your life.