I’ve always been proud of my Ghanaian heritage. Before coming to Ghana, I was excited about coming “home” and being amongst “my people”.
Nevertheless, one of the things that I have found annoying is being called an “Obroni” at EVERY GIVEN OPPORTUNITY.
Now before I continue, let me make this clear, some folks actually use this term towards me as a form of “endearment”, however, there are times when it is used in a negative manner. I personally DO NOT see how calling me a white person (it is often used in this manner), when I am clearly black, is supposed to make me feel great, but such is life.
On air (radio), the nickname “Afua Tumtum Broni” has been given to me. Afua is my Ghanaian name meaning Friday born, and “tumtum” means black, “’Broni” white person. In short, Afua-black-white person. Personally, I absolutely hate it, however apparently such a nickname is a “hit” amongst the locals here in Kumasi. (Just for the record: I have zero issue with white people, but I have an issue with being referred to as something that I AM NOT.)
Being born and raised outside Ghana has meant that I have been blessed to be around people of different cultures and races. I am also obsessed with travelling, and I’ve previously been to countries/places such as Morocco, Germany, Miami, Greece, Tenerife etc. Due to this, I have been exposed to various types of living, and conditions. My upbringing, and different environments have shaped the smart-thinking young lady, whose blog you are reading today.
The average Ghanaian, who has not had the opportunity to travel outside of Ghana’s view points on various things will most likely differ to mine. This is due to their environment, as well as what I call the “typical African mentality”, were the excuse of “African Culture” apparently means that an African should not have a viewpoint that goes against “cultural” norms. So far, I have found that Ghanaians who may not have travelled outside the country, but listen to “foreign” music, read or watch such TV programs, seem to have an open mind on various issues. This is because they do not limit themselves to only doing, listening, or being solely all things African.
For the almost 5 months that I have been here, I’ve been based in Kumasi. I speak Twi (I’d say that I’m 75% fluent). However, even though I communicate to the locals in Twi & my complexion is now 2 shades darker than it was before I arrived, they STILL REFER TO ME AS “OBRONI”.
Let me give you a few examples of when I have been called Obroni or mocked because I am apparently “not from here”:
- I was buying credit from a stall & conversing with the lady who sells the credit. She warmly invited me to sit down. As we continued talking, a young man came. He laughed and asked the lady, “can you even speak English & you’re here forcing yourself to talk to her?”I responded to his ignorant comment and told him that I could speak Twi, in Twi. He then tried to mock me by saying that how I pronounced certain things was not “proper”. I decided to ignore his presence, while the woman went back and forth with him saying that I could speak it very well, unlike her grandchildren who live in Germany. – Although this scenario seems small, for someone who is not as thick skinned as me, this could have dented ones confidence. It also made me understand why some people are not interested in visiting “their roots”, as sometimes you are not regarded as “one of them” and are mocked.
- The topic for 1 of my radio shows recently, was “If your wife was in labour, would you be by her side, or stay in the waiting room?” 50% of the callers said that they would be by her side, while the other 50% said that they would not. The last caller is often asked to give advice to everyone on the topic that we have chosen for each show. On this occasion it was an “elder” that called. He stated that it wasn’t necessary for a man to be present; as that could even make him lose the sexual attraction that he has for his wife. He also went on to state, “If we keep on listening to these white people, and doing what they do, it will not help us or our nation at all”. This was obviously a dig on my thoughts on the matter. Nevertheless, I did not interrupt his speech. When the call was over, the host of the show asked me if I had heard what the “elder” had said. I made it known that I had, but that I did not agree with him. I was then told that “here when an elder talks, you have to be quiet and listen. You can’t disagree”. – Personally, I find that ridiculous. Everyone has an opinion. An opinion IS NOT A FACT. If I have acknowledged your opinion and then politely stated that I do not agree, what offence have I caused? Again, this is a typical example of how in “African culture”, even when an “elder” is wrong, you CANNOT CORRECT THEM OR EXPRESS YOUR THOUGHTS as it is something that you “DO NOT” do.
- I accompanied my sister-in-law to a local food stall, so that we could buy ingredients to cook dinner. As I sat on a bench next to the food stall, a lady came over waiting to be seen to. “Is your hair natural?” She asked me inquisitively. “Yeah”. “It’s nice, but she obviously isn’t from here, with the way that she has her Rasta hair!” She turned & said to my sister in law in Twi, as if I did not understand what she said.
- I won’t even drag this point out. About 3 weeks ago a lady told me that I wouldn’t be accepted in her church because of my “rasta” (dreadlocks), as Ghanaians in her church don’t do “such a thing”.
Those judgemental “church goers” ay! I am sure that it says in the bible “Thou shall not judge”, but anyway, I’ll leave my thoughts on that for another post……. perhaps…
Granted, I understand that sometimes when such things occur, people do not mean any harm. However, it is annoying coming from somewhere where you feel that you have to work a million times as hard to get somewhere, to now being in a place that you identify as “home” and folks still don’t even see you as their own. What a world ay!
So, if you are a Ghanaian from abroad and you are planning to go to Ghana for sometime or even for the 1st time, expect such things to happen to you. It may not happen often, but it will surely happen (depending on where you are staying).
I’m just hoping that the good lord will continue to bless me with patience, and the ability to keep my beautifully lipstick-coloured mouth shut when someone feels the need to belittle my opinion, or me, because “I am white”. I did not ask to be born elsewhere, nor did I ask to be fortunate enough to travel to various parts of the world, and view the world from different angles. However, that is the case, and due to this I may not share the same “African” views as you.
THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME LESS AFRICAN/ GHANAIAN THAN YOU!