Growing up in the UK there was always this idea that Africa was this place in the world that was for us and by us. It was our true ‘home’, the place that we had been taken from and that we should all return to.
As I got older and began to understand the lasting impact of colonialism, I learnt that Africa wasn’t this idyllic place where black people all lived in harmony with each other, but a place of complex reality. Still, going to Africa and connecting with my African heritage was something that I had always wanted to do. Twenty-seven years later when the opportunity came I took it, and in the month of October during the middle of a pandemic I found myself sweating and beating off mosquitoes in the Ghanaian heat.
My aunt Sharon hosted me in the family home in Accra. It was the first time I’d met her, but I wasn’t at all nervous. She was younger than me, which was a surprise, she was sweet, fashionable, ambitious and very welcoming. She taught me recipes and introduced me to her friends and my extended family and I discovered what deep down I had always known: home is not a place but a people. I wrote about my experience afterwards, blogging about what I had learnt. Sharon read the blog and told me that she enjoyed it, at which point it occurred to me that for as long as I had been thinking about ‘returning to Africa’ I had selfishly never stopped to think about the people I would be returning home to.