My Experience at the Kente Cloth Village
After visiting the woodcarving village outside of Kumasi, the next stop was at the
kente cloth village. Wherever there are sellers, you are treated as a celebrity.
People mobbed the bus to sell merchandise and get a glance of us. The mothership
(bus) might as well say "Rich Dumb Americans" on it. While walking to the kente
cloth shop, kids flocked from every direction with memorabilia or begging for money.
It's a horrible feeling to decline, but you have to—you can't help everyone. Out
of nowhere, a little boy (probably 3) takes my hand and walks with me. All I wanted
to do was hold him and take him home with me to rid him of his poor conditions,
but I had to be realistic. Before entering the shop, a boy named Kofi grasped my
hand and introduced himself. He asked for my name and how to spell it. When leaving
the shop, Kofi approached me with a threaded bookmark that read "Felicia."
I was overwhelmed. Kofi remembered how to spell my name and created
the lovely bookmark within 15-20 minutes and didn't ask for payment. Although I
knew he really expected compensation, it was the thought that mattered to me. I
genuinely gave him some money.
Unlike most Americans, these children have to be skilled in crafting and bartering
in order to survive, especially at ages as young as 4 or 5. My celebrity status
made me resent my skin color and privileged life compared to the children that surrounded
me who deserved a better life and so much more.
Interacting with the School Children
In our visit to Ho, we met Crafty, who creates woodcarvings and many more items
with his skills. On our way to Crafty’s studio, my heart was consumed with joy at
the sight of the school children. This was my first interaction with children in
Ghana. They were overwhelmed and excited to see us. Most of the group took pictures
of the school children and then showed them their photo on the camera. I’ve never
heard so much enthusiasm and laughter as they looked in
amazement at their pictures. There was no need for spoken words
between me and the children, especially because the children did not speak or understand
much English and I did not know their language. We both smiled and shook or high-fived
each others’ hands. The children seemed fascinated by the color of
my skin when holding my hand. Rubbing my hand, they appeared as if they were searching
for the color which matched theirs. As we needed to leave, the children followed
our every step behind the barbed wire surrounding the school. I longed to stay and
play with the children, but I had to follow the group to Crafty’s studio. The children
made my day for me. Their happiness really touched my heart that day and I will
forever remember that moment.
The children were very embracing of our social otherness. Even though the school
children seemed sheltered from people of my skin color, they openly embraced me.
I wish the world could be more open-minded like the school children and embrace