“Never complete. Never whole. White skin and an African soul.”

If I pulled out that dusty old dictionary of mine and looked up autumn, I’d find it is a noun defined as,”the third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves fall, in the northern hemisphere from September to November and in the southern hemisphere from March to May.” The words in the definition just aren’t enough. What about autumn’s almost indefinable beauty? What about autumn’s colors, its cool, sometimes cold nights, and its warmer mornings? What about a perfect autumn day? Well, I’ve got that one covered: today is the perfect autumn day. The sun is bright. The sky is deep blue but has a few wispy clouds for contrast. The air is warm, long sleeve shirt warm. A slight breeze is enough to drop the brown leaves off the boughs of the oak trees. They slowly flutter to the ground as if they know their time is done. Today is a day to be out and about.

I met two former students the other day. We did the pleasantries and caught up with one another. I met one’s baby and another’s nine year old. They asked what I was doing to stay busy. I described my life as a sloth and I mentioned traveling. They wanted to know where. “Africa,” I told them. “Wow,” was the response from each of them and both mentioned how exciting Africa must have been. I told them about the elephants. Seeing those elephants was nothing short of amazing for me, and they thought seeing elephants had to be the coolest thing.

Those conversations got me thinking. Elephants and game parks aside, going back to Ghana is almost commonplace for me. Were I to go to Mali or Botswana, I would think of each as an unbelievable trip to Africa. Ghana is going home. It is familiar again. I get to see my former students, and we are at ease with each other, the sort of ease which comes from years of friendship. I am not surprised by what I see. The rooster wakes me up, but I can always go back to sleep. I enjoy goat and Guinea fowl as much as beef or chicken. I know Ghanaian food is spicy hot and best eaten with my hand. I am adept at noticing and walking over deposits left by goats and sheep on the streets, the walkways and in the market. All the smells are Ghana to me. Ghanaians smile at me, and I smile back. I even greet them in Hausa and a bit of FraFra.

Though Bolgatanga is bigger and far busier, I just think of it as home. It being in Africa is merely serendipitous.

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6 Comments on ““Never complete. Never whole. White skin and an African soul.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    We had our first snowstorm here today, most of the snow is gone again but we’ll get more already tomorrow. The dogs and I were out walking in it for two hours while I waited for my car to get new brake pads, as long as we were out of winds reach it was quite nice.

    Yes it must be cool to see wild elephants, the ones in a no matter how great zoo are a bit sad to see. Still, as long as we have some there we wonä’t eradicate them from the earth which we most likely will in the wild.

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I would not be happy with snow on the ground. It is far too early. My sister in Colorado will often have had snow by now. She can have it.

      I just got new brake pads as well. I went for an oil change and they had to break the bad news.

      I couldn’t believe I was so close to all those wild elephants. It was the most amazing sight.

      Have a great evening!

  2. Bob Says:

    Today was cloudy and cool. Hopefully, temperatures in the 80s and 90s are now just a summer memory. As a Cleveland Indian fan said Wednesday night that, “After the World Series winter can begin”. 🙂 he probably said it after, “Wait until next year”. 🙂

    Although there have been victory parades in Chicago in the past for the Bears, the Blackhawks and the Bulls, this one must have been very sweet.

    Africa is such a huge continent it’s hard to make generalizations about. Your Africa is Ghana while others will have a different experience in Egypt, or North Africa or South Africa. No elephants in Egypt. A New England winter is a very different experience than winter in Dallas or LA. Your Africa feels like home because it was for you in your youth.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I understand the winter reference. Baseball is the game of summer. November is leaning toward winter and basketball and hockey.

      Wait until next year was the Sox’s mantra this fall. They do have hope as the team is, for the most part, quite young (not Pedroia or Buchholtz).

      I didn’t make any generalizations about Africa. I was talking specifically about Ghana and my feelings about being back there, about it being so familiar despite the years since I was first there (46).

      I have also been to Morocco, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Liberia, Senegal and Benin so I have a view of a variety of countries and cultures. Morocco was more Arabic than African as I suspect is the same for most of North Africa.

      • Bob Says:

        I misunderstood your post about Africa. I was not aware that you had visited so many other African countries. It seems like the Rangers are perineal bride’s maids in the American League. 😦 Wait until next year was my baseball mantra since I was a boy. First with the Brooklyn Dodgers, then the Mets and finally the Rangers. The Dodgers won only one World Series in 1955, the Mets in 1969 after I left NYC and the Rangers since 1972. Winning seems strange for me in baseball. At least the two oldest and most iconic ballparks have hosted the big show. Unfortunately, now I would have to hock my only son to be able to afford to buy a good seat in either park during the regular season. Between the ticket price, the parking and the food a night at the old ball game can easily exceed a ‘C’ note per person. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        When I lived in Ghana, I traveled almost every vacation to another country, even rode a camel in the Sahara. Morocco was 6 or 7 years ago.

        Wait until next year wasn’t always possible to say with the Sox. The fear was they would be as bad next year and on and on. It wasn’t until the mid-60’s that we could have a glimmer of hope.

        Fenway has the most expensive seats in baseball though the bleachers are still a good place to see a game, and you won’t go broke until you count in that parking you mentioned and the food. For day games, I’d park in Braintree and take the T to the park.

        I do splurge on a game every year. I even buy good seats!


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