Ghana-Merican. The experience of being a Ghanaian born while living in America.
I know I can’t be the only one who has felt like she cannot always relate with the Ghanian side (or whatever country you’re from) OR the American side. Being stuck in between two different cultures is extremely difficult.
I remember being a young girl, fresh in to the United States and trying so hard to fit in. I wanted to talk differently, wear my hair differently, and whatever else would make me less conspicuous. I used to tell my parents to not speak my home language (Twi – pronounced: chwee) to me in public due to the embarrassment I felt of being from a different country (something I wholeheartedly regret to this day). I remember also denying that I was ever born in a different country and would tell people that only my parents were born in Ghana and I was born in American.
Not to mention how socially awkward things were for me. When I was younger all I had were American friends, primarily because the schools I went to weren’t very diverse and those were the only people I came in contact with. I always attempted to avoid the few Africans that I ever came in contact with simply because I didn’t want to be associated with them (Sad, I know..). So I would distance myself from anything that was congruent to where I was from.
That is, until I started attending a church, many years later, that was predominantly Ghanaians and were pretty cool, to say the least. I wanted to hang around them but shortly realized that I couldn’t even relate to them either. These were Ghanaians who were proud of where they came from. Embraced their culture and had no regrets of their upbringing (It was amazing to see, I’ll admit). I, unfortunately at that time, was the complete opposite. But suddenly, I realized that I wanted that…that sense of pride of where I came from….that understanding of how beautiful my culture is. And I’m sure had I known how different my culture and country would be perceived a few years after that moment, I would have been more inclined to accept it more. I wanted to re-learn my native language so that I could better communicate with my Ghanaian peers. I wanted more African clothing so that I could fit in more. Can you imagine how confused I must’ve been at that time.
Needles to say, I found myself in the middle of two cultures and almost felt rejected by both. I couldn’t hang around the Ghanaian community because they had their own way and style of communicating with each other and it truly sucked! It took me me years just to feel comfortable being around a group of Ghananians (such a crazy thing to say out loud).
Although this was not always the situation, I can now say that I love my culture and have embraced it the best way I know how.
One word of advice I would want to give foreign parents would be to assure that your child gets to see the brighter side of your culture while growing up and to also have them around a diverse group of individuals (particularly from your country) so that they do not ever feel left out or feel the need to try and fit in when they were born to stand out!