Saturday, May 19, 2018

Liberating Words draft

Today was a beautiful African day.  Sunny, we got up early and prepared to travel to Ghanata Senior High School in Dodowa. There we convened in Mr. Afrifa's theatre arts class where we spoke to the students, shared poetry, answered questions and made new friends. The high school is one of the state schools serving children 14-20. The youth board there and Ehalakasa hosts writing workshops. One of the poets is a former student. He and the kids freestyled a poem where he took their words and incorporated them into a narrative he was weaving in the moment.

The youth performed work for us, some in their native languages. They were engaged and listened deeply to the adults who traveled across the world to meet them. Lots of hugs and phone number email, Facebook, instant messenger, WhatsApp exchanges.

The themes ranged from empowerment to spousal abuse. The sharp youngsters will perform on Sunday too. They will perform a play, poetry and dance.

We left there and went to a restaurant where we call spoke together. One of the poets was performing that evening at a concert featuring the largest chorus in the country, but I missed it. I fell asleep. Tomorrow we are having a Old Accra Day Tour. It is supposed to rain.

We left the hostel at 8:30-9 p.m. for the Coco Lounge, a upscale restaurant for a meal. Afterward we were to go dance. The food was excellent and afterward folks went to Osu to find a club to hear Hip Life and Reggae. I came back to the Hostel with Marcus (who flew in earlier this evening), Mama Makeda, Zakkiyah and Shoshi. When Karla said they planned to be out about 5 hours, I was not able to commit to so much time. Besides it's hard to get a car late at night, so I would have been stuck. We were having trouble with Uber from Coco's.  We called several times and had to get taxis.

We were dressed to impress: Imani was asked often for her number as heads' turned. She had on black slacks with vertical tears in the legs, solid top, her hair pulled back, makeup accentuating her cheekbones and eyes. Xiomara also looked loving in her white lace trimmed tunic, while Tyrice had on a bold candy-cane stripped jumpsuit and Karla had on a two piece as well. Omu looked sharp in his all white.

The restaurant had a dress code: no shorts, so we weren't able to go inside. Instead we opted for the patio which worked out even better. It was our own private party-- really awesome and fun. One of Imani's admirers brought us music so we danced and then ate and talked.

Joseph and friends popped by for an hour or so. He is a really good friend to Karla. One of his friends is a therapist who works to send ritual female violence. She told us about the practice of having families give a daughter to the priests to atone for an ancestor's wrongdoing. These girls (some babies) are often sexually molested and are servants for life. In many cases the women ended up serving for multiple generations-- their children and grandchildren progeny of the same priest. The clinician explained the kind of trauma healing work she with those women and girls rescued. Although the practice had been illegal for a long time, the Ghanaian government is not prosecuting these pedophiles.

She told me about a film which premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2017.
This is important humanitarian work. The problem faced here is the absence of public information. The more the public knows about this cultural practice, the better for the girls trapped and/or targeted.

On my way home from Coco Lounge, I thought about the parallel narratives Karla and I occupy: she carries the right badges and has access to arenas and people I do not which makes her a valuable ally and comrade.

It had been-- if not completely, certainly a modified conversation if I am speaking to black revolutionaries, whom tired of systemic racism leave America without a backward glance.  The way an employee of the State Department queries and perhaps adjusts his or views is not something I have ever been able to ask about before. The person I spoke to said when he was in Venezuela, he respected President Chavaez for his policies towards fellow citizens. 


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