‘I am proud to celebrate my Ghanaian heritage’
Kwame Abayateye, a second year pupil at Abingdon School, talks about the pride he feels for his Ghanaian heritage and reflects on the beauty and significance of his culture.
Growing up, my grandparents always regaled me with stories of their youth in Ghana. They were born and raised in Tafo, a small town in the eastern region of Ghana. Money was scarce, but they were resilient and determined to make a better life for themselves. Their experiences and their culture have influenced my life in many ways, and I am proud to celebrate my Ghanaian heritage. In this article, I will share more about my personal journey and the rich history and traditions of Ghana. Join me as I explore the beauty and significance of my heritage.
As a young Ghanaian, I have always been deeply connected to my roots and heritage. Every year, I make a point of visiting my family in Ghana, where I am reminded of the beauty and strength of my culture. My grandparents, who share stories of their hardships growing up and the progress that we as a country have made, are a constant source of inspiration for me. Their stories remind me to be grateful for what I have and to continue pushing forward, no matter the obstacles. Growing up in England, I have been privileged to have access to numerous opportunities and comforts, including my education at Abingdon. However, my trips to Ghana always serve as a humbling reminder of my blessings. I witness firsthand the challenges faced by many Ghanaians, such as the lack of access to clean water, adequate healthcare, and stable employment. Despite these challenges, Ghanaians continue to persevere and build strong communities based on kindness and respect. My Ghanaian heritage has also instilled in me a deep sense of pride and appreciation for my culture. From the rich and colourful traditional Kente cloth to the vibrant music and dance, I am constantly reminded of the unique beauty of my Ghanaian background.
Kwame holding a traditional Kente cloth
It is through these cultural traditions that I have been able to connect with my family and form lasting relationships with others who share the same love for Ghana. One of the things that stood out to me during my visits was how my grandparents would explain the struggles they faced when they were young. They would often speak of their experiences of growing up in a time when there was little to no opportunity for them. They had to work hard to provide for themselves and their families, with no access to the luxuries that I now enjoy. It made me appreciate the sacrifices they made and instilled in me the importance of hard work as a means of achieving success. My grandfather's arrival in the United Kingdom was marred by discrimination he faced as a black man in a country that was not welcoming to people that looked like him. The sign 'No Irish, no dogs, no blacks' hung above the rooms for rent where he sought shelter. The words etched in black paint screamed exclusion, yet my grandfather did not let it dim his hope for a better life. He persevered, working hard to build a life for himself in this foreign land. He soon was introduced to my grandmother, who was also from the Greater Accra region in Ghana. They formed a bond that would not only lead to the birth of my mother but also the preservation of our Ghanaian heritage in a foreign land.
Growing up, my family instilled a strong pride in our Ghanaian culture. From the food we ate and the clothes we wore, to the stories we were told about our ancestors, our culture was always at the forefront of our lives. As a child, I remember being taught how to make fufu, a traditional Ghanaian dish, and being dressed in kente cloth for special occasions. As I grew older, I began to realise the beauty of being Ghanaian. Our heritage is woven with a rich history and culture that can only be fully appreciated through a deep understanding of our traditions. I began to take an interest in learning about my ancestors, their customs, and their struggles. I learned about the great Ashanti Kingdom and its significance in Ghanaian history, the strength of the people during the transatlantic slave trade, and the resilience of Ghanaian people in the face of colonialism. I was inspired by the story of Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother who led the uprising against the British in 1900, and the role of freedom fighter Kwame Nkrumah in leading Ghana to independence in 1957. And I have enjoyed sharing this heritage with my friends at Abingdon which, as a school, is both welcoming and culturally diverse.