Photo Diary: Ghana with Agyeiwaa Asante
Last year, Round House Literary Apprentice and School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play Assistant Director, Agyeiwaa Asante, did some multitasking. She traveled to Ghana to research the show…and to visit her family! During her trip, she kept a visual diary of her travels, providing an intimate, inside look she is now sharing with Round House audiences. Follow her journey below. The following entires and photos by Agyeiwaa Asante.
I’ve come to realize that how you get to experience things has a lot to do with what part of your life you’re in. A trip to Disney World when you’re eight is going to be quite a different experience than at 18. And that sums up my relationship with Ghana as well. Though I visited many times as a child and lived there from 12-16, it was a wholly different experience going back in December 2018. For my cousins and me, this was our first year traveling together as “adults.” This meant our outings weren’t limited to distant relative visits and our grandfather wouldn’t be calling us as the sun set at 8 PM, letting us know he’d be waiting up for us (as young American women couldn’t be out too late).
My grandparents and the view outside of their home in East Legon. I grew up here, and it keeps you close to a lot of the fun and activity!
Accra, Ghana’s capital, is the country’s hub located right on the coast. With all the energy of DC, LA and NYC in one place, it gets pretty hectic and crowded this time of year, when everyone who’s travelled abroad finds their way home.
Ghana got its first mall in 2008 and it’s become a central area for community events. It also holds our first major cinema (where Black Panther
premiered last year with a parade accompanied by drums and dancers). Though my family did miss that, we got to experience “The Village,” which hosted events throughout the week such as local movie screening and a Paint and Sip, although visual art has never been my forte.
The creative scene in Ghana has experienced a major boom of late, as the internet and social media have done amazing things for Ghanaian artists throughout the diaspora. Mhoseenu Design Studio has become a destination for this burgeoning community. They hosted the Quest 2 Quest networking event with a panel of creative entrepreneurs throughout the diaspora with Ghanaian roots, including former Miss Maryland 2018 Mame Adjei and photographer Jsohua Kissi. They discussed how to bridge the gap between the diasporas, and if success only counts if acknowledged by an international platform.
Accra nightlife is another aspect of the Ghana lifestyle I missed out on as a kid. This time of year there are back-to-back concerts starring the biggest up-and-coming artists in Ghana such as King Promise, Sarkodie and La Meme Gang; even Nigerian-American artist Jidenna headlined a concert. Although it often feels like international artists don’t tend to make many tour stops on the continent, West Africans make it a point to showcase their own.
The real family time came from a three-hour car ride down towards Cape Coast. We made our first trip to Kakum National Park, a very popular tourist and field trip destination in Central Ghana. A protected tropical forest hosting many endangered species, it’s most known for its 1,150-foot canopy walkway. It was my second time on the walkway, and it was a lot less traumatic than doing so with a bunch of screaming teenagers trying to make it as terrifying as possible! But it makes you feel small in such a good way.
After Kakum, we made our way to Cape Coast Castle. It’s one of the more well-known slave castles built along the Gold Coast by European traders, and was once a Portuguese trading post. I admit, I always have problems documenting the experience when I go. I feel such a strong collision of the present and the past. How different my own life would have been just based on when I was born. But it’s always a strong reminder to take full advantage of the opportunities I have now. “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”