Ghana- Filled with dance, loud music, spicy food and positivity. My life in Ghana as an American was an extraordinary experience. When I first arrived I lived on bananas, bread and uncertainty but as the weeks went by and I let go, the culture, the people, the food and the music opened my heart and my eyes. With my husband (then boyfriend) as my guide, I danced to Afro beats till 2am and spent afternoons with his family talking over an open fire, spicy peanut soup cooking.
Now that we are in the States, I do what I can to keep his culture alive in our home. Below are a few ways we are doing our best to live a culturally diverse life.
Food: Soup. Fufu. Stew. Rice. Repeat. Primarily in our house, we eat Ghanaian style which typically is a soup or stew with a starch on the side. On Tuesday afternoon’s our house is filled with the smell of hot spicy chilis, peanut soup and ginger or spicy tomato stew; red palm oil dominating the air. We eat these meals with our hands and family style (all in one bowl), as you would in Ghana. Tip: try adding some spice to your cooking. Curry, Cumin and Smoked Paprika. My favorite: Egg Stew and Ga Kenke (fermented corn dough). Eric’s favorite: Banku (fermented corn and cassava dough) and whole fish. Aurelia’s favorite: Ground Nut soup and fufu (dough made from boiled cassava and plantain).
Music and dance: Music has the power to transform us, move us and bring us to a different world. In my house, music is almost as needed as food. Right now I am loving a French Cafe playlist on Spotify- it brings me to Paris as I sip my morning coffee. In the evening, it’s a choice between African Hip Life and Latin dance music as we cook. Ever tried stirring some boiling soup while shaking your hips to Shakira? If ever looking for an afternoon activity, put on some loud music from another land and DANCE! Our favorites: Nico and Vinz, Sarkodie, P-Square, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, Moana Soundtrack.
Language: We speak a mixture of English and Fante (language of the Central Region in Ghana.) It’s incredibly important to us as parents that Aurelia embraces her Ghanaian culture and language. She is quickly picking it up and I am slowly introducing Spanish as well. I am not fluent, but I can hold a conversation and am teaching her word by word. Right now she can answer, “How are you?” in 3 languages, say hello in 5 and is on her way to being trilingual. Our tips: If you live in a bilingual home try and have one parents speak English and the other speak the other language. If you remain consistent than your child should pick up both languages. If you do not have a bilingual household, I welcome your advice and thoughts on this. Right now I am teaching Aurelia one word each day and repeating words that I know in English and following with the other languages. Example: Typically I ask her to say, Thank you. Gracias and Medase (Fante).
Travel is the most essential part of keeping our lives rich in culture. Check out the article on how we manage to travel on a small salary. When I travel, I love to dive into the culture and local scene. There is nothing quite like dancing in the streets of Riomaggiore or getting lost in the sea of trinkets at a market in the hills of Thailand. So, I have decided that while home, one night a week, we will travel around the world and learn a new culture using food, music and language. Where should we visit first?