From A White Girl To Ghana and Ghanaians

Spoken Word poetry – Foreigner. Lyrics below. Written by a white girl who spent eleven years in Ghana, West Africa.

Foreigner
When my father first arrived in this country,
He waved at a little boy
And the boy came.
He didn’t know that to wave like that
Was a summons.
When I first arrived in this country
I’m sure I was confused
Maybe scared
But I can’t remember any of it.
It feels as if I have always been here
In this place.

But the children when I was nine knew differently.
They spoke about me
Because they thought I couldn’t understand
But I could.
I listened to them saying many things about me
With many words
But all I ever heard was
“foreigner, foreigner, foreigner
Yevu, obroni – you don’t belong.”

I didn’t believe them though.
Inside of my white heart
My blood flowed thick with Ghanaian.

I went to market
And all the women wanted to hear me speak
“Eh! She hears our language!”
All the taxi drivers wanted to marry me.
“She is young!” my mother said,
But inside their thoughts they were thinking
“Look at the skin! She has money.”

I tried, when I was very small,
To change the colour of my skin.
I wanted it to be black,
Beautiful native black
When I grew older I stopped trying
But I didn’t stop wanting.

When I first came to this country – your country –
You welcomed me.
Every time I meet someone new
They welcome me again.
They think I am an amedzro,
New and touring and bringing money to the country;
But my friends when I was twelve knew differently.
They spoke to me because they knew I could understand
And I could.

So I found myself becoming a bridge
Between the white and the black,
America and Ghana.
I spoke with two tongues and two minds
And I behaved as two persons
Separately identical.
I didn’t know my own self
And I was confused,
Maybe scared,
Because the people on the road looked at me
Like I was amazing
And with every look I felt
“foreigner, foreigner, foreigner
Yevu, obroni – you don’t belong.”

I didn’t want to be special.
But how can a white girl in Ghana
ever walk on the road unnoticed?

So I decided to try belonging in a place
Where everyone looked like me
And it felt like it was working
But the people when I was fifteen knew differently.
“African girl” they called me
And I tried to tell them that “look at my skin!
Does it look black to you? I am not African.”
But they were not fooled.

Oh, and even my own heart
When I was eighteen knew differently.
My skin was white, yes,
White like fufu before the soup is brought;
But my heart was with Ghana.
Every day I woke up thinking
How the sun will rise in the morning in the village
And everybody will be sweeping the compound
And going to fetch water
And the schoolchildren will be taking their baths
And the bell will be ringing that
“The world is awake! Akuviator, all you lazy people, wake up!”

But I am older now
And that world is far away
And sometimes even I forget that my heart is still Ghanaian.
I don’t know my own self
And I am confused,
Maybe scared,
Because I can’t remember anymore
Why I decided to leave Ghana.
“Foreigner, foreigner, foreigner” They said
But I always wanted to belong.

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