Nyame Nshira Wo (God Bless You)

(Kamau Grimes poses with a Ghanaian street vendor in front of Cape Coast Castle)

The MPAGE 2012 program was single-handedly the most well rounded and amazing experience of my whole life. I always told myself that if I did not study abroad during my undergraduate years that I would sincerely regret it. I thank God and Dr. Cynthia Hewitt that I can live my life with no regrets, and that I was able to embody the principle of Sankofa, returning to one’s roots.  Before MPAGE I had never been outside the east coast let alone Africa. After living in Ghana for a month I can now saw that I am a global citizen.

(Brandon Bates, Emmanuel Saint-Ange, and Kamau Grimes practice Yoga at the Pan-African Student Summit)

I sincerely doubt that my experience in Ghana would have been half as complete without the MPAGE program.  We were integrated into so many aspects of Ghanain culture.  We went from city to city and from town to town. We connected the dots between pre-colonial Africa to modern day Africa. We went from meeting the queen Mothers in the village of Gomoa Darhom to Accra’s number one hip-hop radio station, 107.9 YFM.

We went from walking on a canopy bridge at the top of a rainforest to a Gala held by prominent African-Americans living in Ghana.  I met Dr. James Small, who was a close friend and colleague of Malcolm X as well as Dahveed Nelson who is the only surviving member of the acclaimed Last Poets.  Along with these noteworthy gentlemen, I was also able to meet many other African-Americans who now live in Ghana. This is inspirational, as I believe it us up to Africa’s children to return home and restore her to greatness.

There is even organization designed for African diasporans to comfortably assimilate to African culture during a visit or a move. All Diasporans should visit the African Union Diaspora Africa Forum in Accra located right by the WEB DuBois house for more information about integrating easier into Ghanain life. 

(Students gather outside of the Diaspora Africa Forum)

One of the best experiences of MPAGE was the family bonding that came from living with the other MPAGE participants. Many of us did not know one another beforehand, but now we will forever be connected. By our once in a lifetime experience    I love all of you. Roman, Jordan, Kobi, Khadijah, Borley, Brandon, Albert, Robert, Jomo, Emmanuel,  Dr. Hewitt, Dr. Livingston, Dr. Rice, and my Ghanain family  HAJJ, Abdul, Emmanuel, Ibrahim, Florence, Gifti,  little Kofi, Festus and Gabriel….. God Bless You … Nyame Nshira Wo.

Written by Kamau Grimes

Atlanta, Georgia, August 7, 2012

Work it Out

The main theme of Morehouse Pan-African Global Experience (MPAGE) is to explore Pan-Africanism as a cross-cultural dialogue. During MPAGE 2012, students had the unique opportunity to create music with very talented Ghanaian/Nigerian artists managed by Umar ‘Hajj’ Mohammed, founder of MOC Pan-African Multimedia company and MPAGE’s site coordinator. Music is the entity that transcends all boarders, cultures, and ideologies. By creating music with our West African peers MPAGErs were able to bridge a gap, bring our worlds together, and literally participate in a cross cultural dialogue with music as the language. The song is not solicited or sponsored by MPAGE or its directors. It was an independent project that manifested because students fully immersed in Ghanaian culture. They met musicians and one day recorded ‘Work it Out’. It was even played on the Sunday night show of Accra’s number one radio show, Y107.9 FM. Check out the product of this experiment.

 Written by Kwabena ‘Kobi’ Ansong

Atlanta, Georgia, August 13, 2012

Royal Toe

(Royal Toe logo based off of Jordon Nesmith’s sketch)

During the Pan-African Student Summit, I was privileged to meet two students with an idea that was beginning to take off before my eyes. The students, Isaac Attrom and Harry Kofi, had a vision to revitalize the world of footwear by introducing their own line of sandals with a twist. These shoes would feature durable and comfortable souls and several variations of straps. The twist is that these sandals would be coupled with a plethora of very stylish kente patterns.

(The original sketch that inspired the logo)

I was honored to be asked by these two gentlemen to sketch a few of the shoe designs for them as well as sketching an alternate logo for their company, Royal Toe, which helped inspire the logo they’ve come up with. Through this enriching collaborative effort, I was able to experience Pan-African unity first hand.

Written by Jordon Nesmith

August 10, 2012, Baltimore, Maryland

An Education Observation

(Mohammed Joseph discusses education issues of Gamao with the dean)

The common justification for low academic achievement levels in the United States is a lack of resources. I never agreed with this notion. That is not to say that the lack of resources is not an issue, because it is, but the major problem I see is the lack of educational value. In Ghana, it is completely the opposite.

 (The only computer in all of Gamao, a community of over 2,000 people)

During my trip to the motherland I had the opportunity to visit several schools throughout Ghana. The school that stood out to me the most was the one I visited in the Gomao Village. Children were packed into small classrooms, 60-70 at a time, with no electricity or running water.

Any light the students received came from the sun. Three to five textbooks shared amongst an entire class of over 30 students. The school’s recreational facilities were usually trivial or nonexistent. There were no bathroom facilities in the entire village, let alone the schools.

(Outdated textbooks for about 70 students in a Gamao classroom)

Most parents lack the finances to send their children to better, private institutions. They must make do with the limited resources in their community.

What is even more shocking than the actual institutions, were the opportunities that existed after graduation. After speaking with the Queenmother, who leads the community alongside the chief, she explained that the Gomao community had an unemployment rate of 100%. Not one individual in the entire village had any form of employment. Any type of agricultural surplus is used to trade for other agricultural products. The lack of resources and opportunities is truly apparent in Ghanaian society.

(MPAGErs address a group of students at Cape Coast International School)

On day 25 , August 5, 2012, we visited Cape Coast International. The visit was extremely eye-opening. We discussed Black American stereotypes of Africans and vice-versa. One student raised her hand and very warily asked, “Is it true all the blacks shoot and love drugs?”

(Cape Coast International student takes notes on MPAGE’s discussion)

The same issues existed at the Cape Coast International School as the Gamao schools. I was extremely humbled and amazed at some of my observations and conversations that I experienced while in Ghana. There is plenty of work to do and I’m elated that MPAGE and her alums remain active in the struggle against poverty and its effects on the human race.

Written by Mohammed Joseph

Atlanta Georgia, August 9, 2012

MPAGE visits Accra’s hottest Hip-Hop Station

Y 107.9 FM is the hottest hip-hop station in Accra. On day 22, Kamau Grimes, Emmanuel Saint-Ange, Khadijah Aleem, and myself traveled to Accra to be featured on the Sunday night radio show hosted by Kobby and Christine. We had a very insightful discussion about our MPAGE experiences and the meaning of the program. Also, we were able to debut a song that featured a few MPAGE students and some of Hajj’s (MPAGE site coordinator) artists. Below are a few photos:

(Emmanuel Saint-Ange, Kamau Grimes, and Khadijah Aleem in the studio)

(Kobby spins on-air)

Written by Kwabena “Kobi” Ansong

August 2, 2012, Accra, Ghana

 

Obama’s Effect on African Male Identity

(Robert Shannon does some shopping in Kumasi’s cultural market)

Robert Shannon is a graduate of Morehouse College and an intern with Identity Orchestration Lab in Atlanta, Georgia. He participated in MPAGE 2011 as a student and joined MPAGE 2012 for about ten days to continue a research project that initiated in 2008 with Dr. David Rice.

I went to Ghana to continue research that is over four years in the making. The objective was to gain global insight to the social/psychological impact of Barack Obama’s presidency. It started when Obama won the Democratic Presidential candidacy in 2008. At that time Dr. David Wall Rice and the Identity Orchestration Lab sat down with a group of African-American college-aged males on Morehouse’s campus to discuss the significance of Obama’s election. From this dialogue the students expressed what they saw as a new sense of visibility that black males would acquire. Barack Obama added a new dimension to the stereotypical black male image.

(Two Ghanaians that Robert Shannon interviewed in Ghana)

Fast-forward four years to the end of President Obama’s first term. We sat down with another group of young black males to discuss the effects of the first African-American president. Though the first group spoke of a new black male visibility, the second group expressed what they saw as a new black male visibility within popular culture, but also the consequence and the role it plays in identity negotiation of black males. The data collected from the first two sessions gave great insight in the significance of the United States’ first African-American President on the identity of young black males, however; in Ghana the identity orchestration lab was able to explore this phenomenon on the next level. The impact of President Obama’s Presidency on the Identity of college-aged males in Africa is something that has yet to be explored, and there is much excitement and anticipation of what the research will yield.

(Dr. Rice lectures students in the Cape Coast MPAGE home)

Written by Robert Shannon

Atlanta, Georgia, August 1, 2012

Jogging ’round Ghana: iPhone x Instagram Photo Essay

MPAGE 2012 participants got it all: abundant knowledge, priceless networking, inspiration, firsthand glimpse into one of the world’s fastest-developing economies, new families, new homes, and tons more. What could students possibly have missed? Maybe some…fitness?

(Mohammed Joseph stretches for a run through Cape Coast’s Eguasi neighborhood)

(Mohammed Joseph, Kamau Grimes, and Borley Quaye stroll along the Cape Coast highway after a morning run)

(Kamau Grimes leaves footprints as he jogs across an Accra beach)

(Gorgeous Accra home spotted during a beach run)

Written by Kwabena ‘Kobi Ansong

Atlanta, Georgia, August 6, 2012

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