As part of Black History Month, I’m sharing my personal journey back home to Ghana. This meant so much to me because it meant reconnecting with my African roots and heritage after almost five years. I share this to inspire and to reflect on the rich history and values of black people all around the world.

The humble beginning

I grew up in Kumasi, the second-largest city in Ghana. Growing up came with priceless memories that still linger in my mind. I remember when my friends and I would not go home after school, instead playing soccer for four hours on the school compound with a ball made out of used papers and Sellotape. We would build goal poles with bricks and play until the sun went down. 
I also remember times when I would ride the commercial minibus known as “Tro tro” without having money to pay (I’d spent all my money on chocolate). Almost always, a good samaritan would pay for me. It was always a joy to get home to eat my mother’s delicious Jollof rice. It would help me totally forget about the bruises on my knee from playing soccer!
I left Ghana in the later stages of my teenage life. Although I heard all the good things about Canada, it was a tough decision to make. Leaving behind a caring family, dependable friends, and a fun-filled teenage life was nothing short of challenging. But as we say in Akan, “Anoma anntu a, obua da,” which translates to “If a bird does not fly, it goes to bed hungry”. So I flew.

The Canadian story

Turning a new leaf in Canada meant new beginnings, new lifestyle, new culture and new system; in fact, new everything! Change isn’t easy, yet I had to adapt. From working 17 hours a day to being called a refugee, Canada came with its ups and downs. 

I remember someone once told me not to call him “bro” because we aren’t the same race and look nothing alike. I hadn’t expected the journey to be smooth or easy; I just didn’t expect it to be as rough. 

I cannot forget the good moments, too, like when I joined Competent Boards as a start-up company with only four permanent employees. I’ve seen it develop so far that we have 20 employees now. Or the times I have had the opportunity to give spoken word poetry to numerous audiences. The Canada story has not ended; it has just begun. 

The return

In December 2021, I decided to go back to my roots. After almost five years, I had the chance to see family and friends. Although that fun-teenage life had ended, it was still worth every minute.

 I toured the country and took part in a few humanitarian activities. It felt so good to be back and see the place that made me. It did not take long to reconnect with the land. As we say in Ghana, “if you are born unto a mound, it does not take you long to grow tall.”

My reflection

Although I sometimes fear losing my African heritage by being surrounded by western influence, Canada has given me a good taste of multiculturalism. Life is a journey, and from my perspective, it is like Canada’s weather. Sometimes it is too cold, sometimes it is too hot, sometimes it is too windy, and sometimes it is just perfect. We are all in a hurry to get to our destinations, but sometimes it is worth the pause of reflection. In my case, it was reconnecting with my roots. 

Paa Boateng is the Client Relations Lead for Competent Boards. Follow him on LinkedIn

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