Guinea is a west coastal country of Africa with a population of 12.4 million. The sovereign state is a republic with a president elected directly by the people. Guinean people belong to 24 ethnic groups and while French is the official language more than 24 indigenous languages are spoken. Guinea is the world’s second largest producer of Bauxite.
When Herstun asked me to recount my experiences and feelings about Guinea, I decided that I wouldn’t start by saying —
“Oh, how I love Africa !! It’s sooo amazing!! It feels like home!!”
— Or any other cliche phrases black people use at times when visiting the motherland.
One reason is that I’m not just visiting Africa —
I’ve lived here for almost 3 years now —
with that comes a lot more than what those cliches actually capture.
Don’t get me wrong —
as an African-American,
I have felt like Guinea is a second home at times.
I’ve felt the loss of the people and family that I was stolen from —
The culture that was denied and nearly eradicated —
The language that rolls from my tongue so naturally,
and the land that sings to my soul.
I do love it here.
But that makes it sound like that’s all it is —
I think because we have associated the word love with ease.
It sounds as though everything is peachy for African-Americans here.
However, that’s not always the case.
Like everything in life, Guinea is as complex as the United States, if not more.
There are good, bad, and ugly days here also.
I’ve come to know Guinea and its people these past few years.
I have eaten rice with sauce for all three meals of the day.
I have danced until the roosters crowed 5 am in the morning.
I have sweated and laboured in the unforgiving heat of the Guinean sun with students determined to obtain an education.
I have helped bury a sister, brother, uncle, child, and mother more times than I can ever recall doing back home.
I have sat up late nights feeling completely helpless because the sickness my little brother is battling may indeed claim his life and I can do nothing about it due to the lack of resources.
I have taken janky taxis on terrible roads.
I have gazed on the unblemished and uncorrupted view of the stars and moon.
I have —
I have lived in a tongue older than my own.
Yet, a language just as true to my soul.
I even have a different name in Guinea —
Through it all, I have come to realize that Guineans are very much like my people back home — beautiful, strong, creative, generous, loud, social, and loving.
Despite the centuries of separation,
one can still feel and see that similarities in —
Similarities in life.
— along with —
And you have a social culture that transcends the great boundary of the Atlantic Ocean.
Like black folks at home, Guineans talk loudly, love deeply, and give unconditionally.
And also like us, there are family feuds, conflicts between groups of different cultures and geographical areas, a rise in materialism amongst the youth, and moments of jealousy between the haves and have-nots.
Still, overall, Guineans are people that value relationships above everything expect God.
Moreover, they have the unique and almost uncanny ability to recognize a truly genuine connection and they make the extra effort to build a relationship after it is made.
So I have developed a strategy over the past few years.
To the best of my ability, I take myself and my Western perspectives out of the equation.
I give my all into getting to know and learn from the people of my ancestors while making a real and lasting connection.
So over the next few months, I hope to share some of my thoughts, experiences, insights, frustrations, and love that I have for Guinea and West Africa.
These will come in the form of journal entries, poems, pictures, and random reflections made by me during my time here.
Hope you enjoy,