“It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.”
– Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
A dream of Africa finally came true as I embarked on one of the greatest journeys of my life — visiting the Black Star of Africa. It was the week of my birthday and I was bestowed the honour of representing one of eight Canadian women entrepreneurs selected for the 2018 International Seminar as we ventured on a journey of a lifetime to the gateway of the African continent, Ghana. The Uniterra program (WUSC & CECI) focused on women entrepreneurship where we had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with fellow Ghanaian women entrepreneurs.
The International Seminar was all about building bridges of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as we shared, laughed, and discussed all things pertaining to life, culture, and of course, business. While both of our entrepreneurial journeys facilitated cross-cultural dialogue and insights into the Ghanaian entrepreneurial ecosystem, we also were witnessing the nation that is one of the leading countries in the world with the third highest number of female entrepreneurs.
It was such a humbling experience to connect with brilliant Ghanaian women entrepreneurs who represent a new generation of nation-builders determined to make an impact in community economic development. It was refreshing to hear the Ghanaian perspective on the future of the African continent. As the first African nation to gain independence, the former president, Kwame Nkrumah, inspired generations of Africans to understand the importance of economic self-sufficiency.
In the midst of international revolutionary movements of the 1960s to 70s, Ghana would be a shining Black Star and establish a standard of pan-African leadership inspiring other nations to follow its example. The level of emotion is indescribable as my journey came full circle. I paid my respects to this powerful pan-Africanist figure of our history and promised to continue building on the blueprints he established.
(Courtesy of Munzungu Nzeyedio)
It is with the utmost honour and pleasure that I tell the story of this momentous journey that took me out of my comfort zone and brought me to an environment filled with memories to last a lifetime. The International Seminar provided the opportunity to enhance our entrepreneurial knowledge with business symposiums, followed by a two-week guided tour to uncover the beauty of Accra, the capital city of Ghana.
As a student of history, it was simply a blessing to visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park/Mausoleum and the Black Star Gate/the Independence Square in celebration of Ghana’s powerful political legacy.
Although my travels were mainly in Accra, I was still able to experience the Ghanaian lifestyle in the capital city brimming with lights, karaoke, music (azonto for days), kente cloth, and of course, culinary delights. A key highlight on the journey was a trail walk travelling deep into the Kakum National Park and marvelling at West Africa’s greatest natural treasure.
Our tour guide was top notch as we witnessed luscious green pastures, the song of the birds blessing the rainforest, and gained knowledge on the importance of preserving it’s unique biodiversity for the next generation. As we walked across this magnificent rainforest, our knowledgeable tour guide referred to the rainforest as a “pharmacy” with countless medicinal plants for optimal well-being.
Our visit to Elmina Castle was a moment of spiritual reconciliation and understanding of the history of African enslavement. As we entered the oldest and largest slave castle in Ghana, I had to prepare myself in mind, body, and spirit to uncover the dungeons where men, women, and children were held captive. In all humility, I released all of my tears of hurt, anguish, and despair as I felt the pain of the ancestors throughout the castle.
As we walked to the peak level of the castle, I could see the waters roaring on the sand and other slave castles right across from our location. In many ways, I began to reflect on this moment in our history as a crime against African humanity and where the wounds of our past have yet to be fully healed.
After a moment, I felt a sense of peace as a whisper from God expressed these words: It is well, my daughter.
A spirit of entrepreneurship permeates Ghanaian life where the people are all about handling business the African way. I gained a tremendous wealth of knowledge on the Ghanaian entrepreneurial ecosystem and insights on opportunities to invest in back home. The nation of Ghana presents both challenges and opportunities in offering insight on how Ghanaian women are contributing to local, national, and global economic affairs.
A lesson of importance resides in understanding the power of entrepreneurship as a key driver for economic growth and empowering women with the tools, resources, and financial support required to contribute to the development of the African continent. There is a uniqueness in this nation that is simply shining with a richness in land, culture, and history. Ghanaian hospitality is like no other with humility and kindness, which makes you feel at home in a country filled with an innovative spirit of resiliency.
The nation of Ghana has a special place in my heart as it shines bright like a Black Star for the world to see it’s majestic beauty.
Final Word: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” ― Frantz Fanon