Opinion | Jan 17, 2019

Full-Circle Festival and Good Publicity for Ghana

As a regular listener of the Ebro Show on New York City’s FM 97.1 (Hot-FM) Radio Station, my two preteen boys forced me to do so, every morning while I drive them to school – well, the older one just turned 13, though I keep insisting that until I get used to him being a “freshman” teenager, he shall remain a 12-year-old to me – I am quite familiar with the very identical voices of Ebro Darden, Peter Elliot Rosenberg and Laura Stiles (I hope I have her last name spelt correctly). I normally listen to Hot 97.1 for a little over an hour every weekday morning, while driving Papa Yaw Sintim-Aboagye, my favorite maternal grandfather’s avatar, and my dad and namesake, Nana Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, III. Well, sometime early December last year, Ebro, the lead co-host of the eponymous “Ebro Show,” I suppose that what it is called, began talking about his impending visit to Ghana, and how he was eagerly waiting to visit such historically apocalyptic places like the Cape Coast and Elmina castles.

I could not feel prouder to hear Ebro and one of his pair of cohosts mention his impending maiden visit to Ghana every morning last month. And whenever the name of Ghana would come up on this show, I would quickly hush up my boys and ask them to pay sedulous attention, as Ghana, as far as I was concerned, was the most significant country on the African continent, if not the entire universe, followed by South Africa and Ethiopia, in that order. Nigeria is equally significant, of course, but Ghana is simply special and fantastic. I also recall, not very long ago, commenting to a Jamaican-born neighbor that he looked strikingly familiar like one of my relatives back home. Another Afro-Caribbean native – I believe he was from St. Kitts or some such place – interjected, Finley just happened to be passing by: “Who do I resemble?” to which I promptly snapped in jest: “Well, with your oversized African nose, of course, you definitely must be a Nigerian.” And then almost apologetically, I said to Finley, that is his real name, by the way, “You know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Nigerian, except that Ghanaians are simply special.”

I also quickly remembered that tourism jingle which says that “Ghana is the Gateway to West Africa,” and quickly remembered, as well, this stinging Nigerian riposte: “Well, Ghana maybe the Gateway to West Africa all right, but guess what? Nigeria is still the Destination!” I almost always laugh at the latter salvo – after all, who wants to truck with the Boko Haram? Anyway, I was elated to no mean measure to learn that, indeed, the occasion that took Ebro Darden to Ghana had to do with something called the Full-Circle Festival, an annual event that was started not quite long ago, one that aims to afford the opportunity to some at least partially African-descended moguls and celebrities to briefly return to their roots from time to time. Which is all hunky-dory by me, being that I have spent nearly 35years here in the United States specializing in African-American Studies and getting to know our brothers and sisters here in the Diaspora.

Anyway, three decades ago, an African-American classmate of mine by the name of Monique Chambers, in a journalism class at the City College of New York, who felt miffed by my constant reference to Black people in the United States as “African-Americans,” did not hesitate to let me know that she was not an “African”-American but simply an “Ameer-rikan.” Monique went on to point out that other than her chocolate-brown skin, which was not even dark enough, she had absolutely nothing in common with “You spear-chucking and bone-pierced-nosed Africans.” I simply walked away from her with deeply hurt feelings. You see, like yours truly who belongs to multiple ethnic groups in Ghana – now don’t tell me about this bizarre DNA thing – Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg are both proudly half-Jewish and half-African-American and, by logical extension, half-African. Laura Stiles, who claims to be of Guatemalan descent, or Latina-American ancestry, is fully convinced that there is absolutely nothing African in her genetic makeup – not that it would matter anyhow, as there are far more of us Africans and half-Africans than the rest of the missing and hoodlum pack out there.

Paradoxically, there is also some truth in Ms. Stiles’ stance; and it is simply that, as the old maxim goes: “You can never go back home again.” Thirty years of hardscrabble existence in the racially segregated human jungles of the United States makes me often feel like a total stranger to the land of my birth, where my navel cord was also severed. But, of course, this feeling is apt to be significantly different for a homegirl or homeboy who has been out there in the freezer-cold world out-west for the past three centuries or more. “What, really, is Africa to me, other than the constant reminder of my Negritude by Mr. Trump’s Alt-Right America?” (See “Akufo-Addo Holds Breakfast Meeting with Top American Celebrities” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/30/18).

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
January 9, 2019
E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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