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by Farida Dawkins, at 07:18 am, January 25, 2018, Culture, Opinion

Just because I’m Ghanaian-American doesn’t mean I have to speak ‘Twi’

Welcome sign with Twi and English inscription hanging at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra

I’m a self-professed Ghanaian-American.  I was born and raised in New York City, nevertheless, my parents are proud Ghanaians and that is, of course, my cultural lineage.  Whether or not you agree with my sentiments is your preference.  I believe it’s imperative to have knowledge about your history and while I understand not everyone has this information, I find it fascinating to be aware of the tribes both of my parents hail from – Chamba and Kotokoli respectively.

Ghana is synonymous with the Asante people and I understand the reason being that the Ashanti kingdom has withstood the test of time; its origins can be dated back to the 5th century and it belongs to the largest ethnic group in Ghana. Respectfully there are a number of additional Akan tribes that inhabited  Ghana such as the Akuapem, Akwamu, and Akyem, Agona, Kwahu, Wassa, Fante and Bono.  Though the British took control of Ghana in the late 19th century it wasn’t until March 6, 1957, that Ghana became independent from the British.

It’s essential to mention the Northern region of Ghana which includes the district of Chamba and neighboring Togo. There is an influx of residents travelling from the beforementioned to establish their life in Ghana as well. Safe to say, Ghana is a conglomerate or a melting pot of unique tribes and cultures. Very reminiscent of my native NYC.

Now to my main point.  I highly respect religions and cultures different from mine. Variety is the spice of life and I won’t claim superiority to another in the name of tribalism.  So why is it that when I proclaim not being able to speak Twi I am met with confused stares and small gasps? I mean, it is apparent that there are a plethora of other languages spoken in Ghana including Hausa which I do speak.  So why is it a makeshift prerequisite that I speak Twi?

Forgive me to sound harsh but there seems to be a bit of tribal hierarchy going on.

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