In elementary school, I grew ashamed of the African heritage that sprung from my father’s Ghanaian homeland. Every day seemed to bring with it a new snide remark from fellow classmates. Either, I lifted rocks for exercise, had too big of a nose, or was an “African booty scratcher.” As I absorbed these remarks with smiles and giggles, I came to despise my heritage more each day. All the while, my father shared story after story of Ghanaian heroes such as Jerry John Rawlings who overthrew two corrupt governments before solidifying Ghana as a democratic state. Why couldn’t I muster up even a little of Rawlings’s courage to stand up for my own heritage? Instead, I did everything I could to fit in. I pulled down my pants as soon as I boarded the school bus. I tried to pierce my ear. I incorporated as many curses as possible into my vocabulary. My nickname during those years embodies my efforts to reverse my heritage. I went by Emawk–Kwame spelled backwards.
I continued to suppress my heritage throughout middle school, but as a freshman away at boarding school, I finally began to embrace the very culture I had tried so hard to reject. Surrounded by boys from privileged backgrounds and WASP society, I spent hours in the weight room, on the basketball court, and on the track trying to harness my physical prowess in order to prove I belonged. Thankfully, my teachers took a sincere interest in my cultural roots, and it was through their eyes that I began to see my own heritage anew. Conversations with my teachers challenged me to engage my heritage and read about these heroes my father had spoken of during my youth. Kwame Nkrumah’s passion for uniting the countries of Africa sparked my interest in the African Union and its goal of creating a United States of Africa. J.J. Rawlings’ pursuit of justice in overthrowing corrupt governments in Ghana led me to investigate corruption levels within his own administrations.
In college, coursework studying African politics, American foreign policy, and African cultural continuum in the United States helped answer some questions and guide me in framing more. Follow-up on past research confirmed that African émigrés to the United States needed to be more involved in US foreign policy concerning Africa. Work with African-American elementary school-age students convinced me of the need for a connection between African-American youth and their peers on the African continent.
Now, I find myself in graduate school studying Public Administration as I bring more shape to my ideas regarding African émigré involvement in US foreign policy and connecting African and African-American youth. My postings will let you in on the development of these ideas. I will look at a wide range of issues, including the following: private equity investments, incursions by Chinese companies, political elections, governance, US foreign policy, and the development of African and African-American youth. Feel free to comment on my posts. I want this to be an interactive process as I plan to learn an incredible amount in this process, and pray that you do as well.