Maasai Mara, safari region,
Kenya, East Africa
digital media by
TRIP TO GHANA
Journal entry: Summer 2001
is well out here. A year has passed already and my contract
is complete. I was supposed to lecture for two semesters
and the year is already finished. Time flies. I asked for
my assignment to be extended and they (the administration)
never responded, but they assigned more classes than I had
the other previous two semesters. I am still teaching computer
graphics to high school art teachers, but now I am also
teaching them how to illustrate.
I feel there is more to learn out here and contribute out
here so I decided to stay longer. I have traveled from the
south (Christian city atmosphere and western) to the north
(Muslim village atmosphere and middle eastern). For the
art education department, I brought back books for the library
and a computer for my classroom.
I am currently working on a three freelance projects:
• promotional publication
for the University of Education in Winneba
a freelance brochure for a gold jewelry merchant
• the graphic promotional
items for Panafest. Panafest is a Pan-African festival held
every two years to commemorate Africa’s independence
and quest for unity. It is a festival held in July. I expect
it to be a lot of fun; there will be visitors and performers
from all over the world. I will return to the states after
I want to complete these projects in addition to lecturing
five new classes and traveling around the country with my
camera, mobile phone, and backpack. I am the youngest lecturer
in my department, and actually younger than most of my students.
My students are returning teachers who are back to upgrade
their skills. I do not want to teach only and let my skills
get out of shape. So I still do freelance work to stay in
creative shape. The other lecturers hardly do art any more;
they are content to tell the students what to do. I still
have my career ahead of me when I return.
It is not easy out here but I do a lot of traveling. My
budget is a little greater than my time so I am trying to
use my time wisely and travel often to see and witness as
much as possible. In addition to freelance work, which pulls
me to different cities, I try to go to different cultural
and traditional festivals. Different groups have different
events as rituals according to their region’s specific
traditions. As the country becomes more and more Christian,
and westernized, a lot of these traditions are not being
kept alive nor passed down to future generations. Unfortunately,
It is called “progress and development.” I feel
tradition and culture is what makes people unique and special.
But, what can I do? Change a whole cultural transition by
I have met a lot of folks from other places. I know several
Liberian refugees (their country is currently having a civil
war) who emulate their stereotype of African-Americans.
That is not a compliment since their only example of African-American
culture is the hip-hop videos. I think it makes the youth
feel modern and tough.
At the marketplace, the Ghanaians over-price foreigners,
there are no set prices. It is a bartering society where
prices fluctuate daily so they all want to charge high prices.
They all think Americans have money. The impression comes
from U.S. media giving the impression on news and radio
that all citizens are wealthy. This is one long adventure
and that is how I am treating it.
weighing the pros and cons, I have decided to extend my
stay here. I made that decision based on the fact that I
am finally adapting to the momentum out here. It has taken
a while because everything is so different. But I can stand
the time. It is not all bad. The weather is tropical and
most of the people are friendly. There is good and bad everywhere,
including my home in New York. The university likes my work
and I have other opportunities out here. I am meeting a
lot of positive African-Americans over here who are trying
to uplift the society over here. The nightlife is wonderful,
especially the parties in Accra (the capital). Everything
is inexpensive here, so you can go to several locations
in the same night. No shootouts, no fighting, cold winters,
and police harassment. There are also beach parties every
Sunday if I feel like staying in Accra the entire weekend.
I am focusing on my art, both graphic and painting It is
challenging with the strain on my time from both teaching
and traveling. After the summer I will return. I do miss
home, but who knows when I will have an opportunity like
this to travel again? Once I come home, it is back to the
grueling industry rush of trying to do five things in a
New York minute. This is good therapy. To work and travel,
the perfect combination.