Growing up with heavy influence by my (mainly Nigerian) sistas, I'd like to share my cultural musings with you from a Jamaican/Guyanese P.O.V. I, personally, love the cultural melting pot that's going on, though some may not agree. Last year, I visited Ghana for my birthday. To me, it meant sunshine, food, education, but you'd be surprised how many times this conversation occurred:
Them: You're going Ghana? I didn't know you were Ghanaian.
Me: I'm not.
Them: So what are you going to Ghana for?
To which I'd say, ' Oh, you're not English. What are you doing doing here then?’
I expected that small-mindedness from my parents’ generation. Is it ignorance or a fear of the unknown? Rebellion against the multi-cultural world we live in? Or is it purely an attempt to retain our identities and culture without it being watered down? Maybe it's a mix of all of these things, though we're not as dissimilar as we may think.
You call it plantain; we call it plantin (though the adding salt to it will never make sense to my sweet taste buds). Speaking of salt, there's another commonality: high blood pressure. You have yam pounded, we have it whole with ackee and salt fish. Ghanaians are on banku, we've got our cornmeal, but tilapia and escoveitch fish are essentially the same dish.
I'm sure that 'malt' should be THE continent wide drink of Africa. There's not an Af household I know of without a crate of the stuff stashed somewhere, meanwhile, while us Jamrocks appreciate supermalt, pass us a dragon stout, Red Stripe or Guinness and we're bredrins for life!
There is only one mystery that defies me. Why is it that when you're offered stew, you're offered chicken or meat (pronounced mit)? What, because chicken isn't a meat all of a sudden? And what is meat? Beef, lamb, goat, veal?! Boy whatever it is, it tastes good! Answers on a postcard anyway!
Even though it's just a comical look at food, and I’m fully aware of the complexities of this subject, you can see, there's nothing to be scared of! We inhabit some of the most beautiful, culturally rich countries in the world and we should delight in, not shy away from proudly sharing our histories and our futures. I'm on it, if for no other reason than knowing that I can bop into one of my many 'aunties' households, pronounce 'Ebi n pa mi' (Yuroba for I'm hungry!), and I'm sorted with a plate of Jollof quick time!
One thing I know for sure is that I'll be donning my kente cloth and jamming to Mz'bel come Saturday! Not because I’m a culturally inept 2nd generation Brit, but because I delight in any forwardly progressive, stereotype changing, celebratory exhibition of my blossoming, powerful, black people. Ghana Independence means I'm honorary Af for the day. Head tie and all!