© 2017 by The Black Narrative, London, UK

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“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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KWAME, 20 - Ghanaian

 

Where are you from?

I’m from Ghana, specifically from Kumasi, repping Asante region! (laughs). Growing up in Ghana, even if it was a challenge, I didn’t see it that way, because I was centered in Ghana. It’s not like I was travelling outside to see what is going on in other sides of the world. So everything, my whole life over there, everything I was doing was towards my future. Everything, I took it seriously. My studies, every opportunity I got, I took it very very seriously. I was actually dreaming of doing dentistry, because all my friends wanted to be in the health profession, doing this and that, so when I was growing up I said: Dentistry. But as time went on, I was like “No, I want to be in the health profession, but maybe let me try Medicine.” 

 

What was it like growing up?

Growing up in Kumasi was fun, it was much fun, I’m not going to lie. Everybody around me had  a sense of motivation, everybody around me was actually ready to achieve. It was actually very competitive in class, so you couldn’t play with your studies. They would position you in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th  and so on, and every single person had their own position and their own target. So you knew who was your competitor. In class we would be seeing people’s grades like, “yeah, I beat you!” That was motivation; it was healthy competiton to be honest. It’s not like it was unhealthy, everyone was hoping for eachother’s success, it’s not that people would wish on other people to falter. That really inspired me, and I’ve also been inspired from seeing the graduation pictures of my friends, the videos and they’ve been doing amazing, getting 1st class and that.

 

What is the best thing about your culture?

What I love about being Ghanaian is that, my culture, it has discipline. When I say discipline, I mean growing up, it showed us respect. Your parents or the people you are growing up with that are raising you, whenever they see something about you, they will correct you and put you on the right way, whether it’s a family member or not, they will make sure that they correct you. One thing about us Ghanaians is that if, let’s say you are Ghanaian, and I’m an elderly person, I have a feeling that if I put you on the right path, in future, your success will also affect me, because if you are in a higher position in the country, your decisions are going to affect me. They really believe in the youth, that the youth are the future. It helps me to know that there is someone out there that is looking out for me and someone out there that is guiding me. You will never bump into a Ghanaian who will not greet you with a smile. Even if they do not know you, they will welcome you and want to know more about you, so you feel part of them. That’s something that I like about coming from Ghana.

 

When did you become aware of your blackness? Is it something that affects you on a day to day basis?

With me, normally, I don’t really let my background become a big deal for me. My values are a big deal to me, and values don’t have any colour. To be honest, not one has ever used my colour as judgement against me or whatever, because I see myself as not belonging to this country. I live over here, I school over here, but this country is not where I am originally from. So whenever you see me doing my work, doing anything, I always remind myself about where I’m from, about the challenges people out there are facing, and the opportunity I’ve got, so I don’t let my colour or my heritage pull me down; it’s always a source of motivation. If you go to a higher institution in this country and you are competing for a job with people of other cultures, you will see they always say a black person has to work ten times harder to get to that position compared to others. That kind of stuff actually motivates me.

 

How do you think people see you? Do you care?

Majority of people say that I’m actually a caring person. I’m someone who is working hard towards his goals, I’m someone who is focused on achieving something and making a difference in this society. I’m someone who uses every platform that I get, not just big ones but something as simple as a conversation. I want to sell my perspective to you. When people say “I can’t do it” I’m the one to help, them encourage them and motivate them. Some people say that I’m smart but I don’t want to say that, or it sounds like I’m bragging (laughs). I see myself as improving consistently, it’s something I’ve been working on from way back. I always look to something higher for myself, even if it’s challenging, I get closer to my goal. I feel like I need to be building on top of everything that I do. 

 

What are your hopes for the future for yourself?

I’m always scared about the future, I’m not going to lie, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I always think that if today I have an opportunity, I need to use today in the best possible way. Whenever I set my goals, the goal that I set today, I need to achieve it. You don’t know how the job market is going to be by the time I graduate – if it’s going to be very competitive, If I’m going to have to struggle to find a job. So I make sure that I use today to the best of my advantage. So even if I don’t finish well in Uni,I have set up my own business which I can use to feed my family.

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August 11, 2017

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